2F - Co-sleeping

Many breastfeeding advocates suggest co-sleeping as a technique to establish and maintain breastfeeding.  This stance is contradictory to the advice and guidelines put forth by many medical organizations.  However, despite being advised to the contrary, many parents end up co-sleeping with their children for various reasons.  Some researchers suggest there are different kinds of co-sleeping, some that are safe and others that are not.  

 

Definitions

Co-sleeping means an infant and mother sleep together in the same room.

Bed Sharing means an infant and mother sleep together in the same bed.

Room Sharing means an infant and mother sleep together in the same room without sharing a bed.

 

Bed Sharing is Found to Be Unsafe Under the Following Conditions:

v  The baby is bottle-fed.

v  The household is impoverished, stressful, and/or chaotic.

v  Drugs or alcohol are used by any individual who will be bed sharing.

v  Individuals are sleeping in the bed who are not related to the baby.

v  The baby is not kept in the supine position (on her back, with no pillows).

v  Fluffy or soft bedding is present that could suffocate the baby (pillow-top mattresses, comforters, extra pillows)

v  Sleep takes place somewhere other than a bed, such as a couch or recliner.

v  The bed is a waterbed.

 

Bed Sharing Can Be Practiced Safely Under the Following Conditions:

v  The mother is breastfeeding the baby.

v  The household is not poor, stressful and/or chaotic.

v  No drugs or alcohol are used by anyone in the bed.

v  The baby is kept in the supine position (on her back, with no pillows).

v  Fluffy or soft bedding is removed from the bed (pillow-top mattresses, comforters, extra pillows).

v  Bed sharing only takes place in a bed that is not a waterbed.

v  Measures are taken to ensure the baby will not roll off the bed (put up a guardrail, lower the height of your bed, and/or move your bed against a wall).

 

When practiced safely, co-sleeping has the following benefits:

v  More frequent breastfeeding during the night

v  Babies go to sleep better and stay asleep longer.

v  Increases the restfulness of a mother's sleep, as her child is close by for breastfeeding, and her sleep is not interfered by noises picked up by a baby monitor.

 

Will I roll over onto my baby?

There are cases in which adults have rolled over onto babies while sleeping.  This most commonly occurs by someone who is not related to the baby (a step-parent or mother’s boyfriend) or when drugs or alcohol are being used.  Research on mother-baby co-sleeping pairs has observed that breastfeeding mothers often respond and adapt to their baby’s movements in their sleep.

 

Will co-sleeping interfere with our sex life?

Co-sleeping can help you keep your sex life interesting by encouraging you to find locations other than your bed to be intimate.

 

What if I am not comfortable bed sharing, but still want some of the benefits of co-sleeping?

You can still have some of the benefits of co-sleeping without bed sharing by room sharing.  You can put a crib in your bedroom to have your baby close at night or purchase a co-sleeper, which is an infant bed designed to be placed right next to the mother’s bed.  A co-sleeper gives your baby his own space to sleep in while also keeping him at arm’s reach for easy breastfeeding in the night.