A Million and One Reasons I Love Bedsharing

Breastfeeding symbol

Breastfeeding symbol (Photo credit: Topinambour)

Okay, maybe there aren’t really THAT many reasons that I love to bedshare with our now 5 month old ninjababy ( Five months?  How the heck did that happen?!) but when I open my eyes in the morning to see a huge gummy smile … well, my whole day starts off better.  Here’s a few reasons I love it so much…

I’m lazy.  Really, honestly and truly.  I love my sleep.  I breastfeed partly because I have no desire to get up at 2 am and stumble around my kitchen trying to make a bottle.  In the spirit of laziness, we bedshare.  Heck, I don’t even have to roll over to feed the baby, much less walk to a different room and get him out of a crib.  When the baby is in the bed, and the food is only a head turn away…well, all of us sleep better, and my older kids thank me for not being sleep deprived and grumpy in the morning.

We believe it’s the anthropological norm.  Yes, WE.  Not only is TBA totally on board with bedsharing, he actually has me grab the ninjababy early some nights, well before he’s ready to wake up and bed fed.  “From an anthropological point of view, bed-sharing is the norm and is for 90 per cent of the world’s population,” Young says. “It’s only Western industrialised societies that conceptualise separate sleeping as the norm and that’s really only in the last 200 years. Then you have to look at SIDS rates; in China, for example, they don’t have a word for SIDS in the language.”  (Dr Jeanine Young, a spokeswoman for SIDS and Kids, and nursing director of research at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane) (By the way, those who are interested in studying societal differences in child-rearing might want to check out an Online Concordia masters in public health program.)

Ninjababy is adorable.  Truly.  From sleeping like a starfish and pushing his dad and I out of the bed, to waking up to pokes in the eye and “Da da DA!” at the top of his voice.  Ninjababy learned to roll over while laying between us in an early morning dance party, and he’s totally practicing how to crawl while using his dad as the best practice mountain ever.

It helps keep my milk supply high.  I’m committed to breastfeeding until the wee one weans himself, and on demand night nursing helps make up for some of the booby time that he might be missing during a busy day when grass is WAY more interesting than hanging out with mama on the couch.

Do you co-sleep or bedshare?  Do you love it?

When Nursing in Public Isn’t the Problem.


Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

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When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, he asked me “are you going to breastfeed?” I’m sure I looked at him like he had three heads as I told him “Of course! That’s what boobs are for!” I knew nothing about breastfeeding, had never seen it done, and knew no one who had ever nursed a child, but I was steadfast that it was the natural and right thing to do.

Someone gave me a copy of Dr. Sears The Breastfeeding Book at my baby shower, and I read it cover to cover. I practically memorized it. Before my son arrived I knew all there was to know about positioning, latch, supply issues, engorgement, and how to tell if my baby was getting enough milk. I loved that book. Gryphon latched on and was nursing within fifteen minutes of his birth. I never had issues with soreness or nipple cracking, and only experienced engorgement and plugged ducts after going back to work and trying to use a sub par pump. We rocked our nursing relationship!

I was never shy about nursing in public, either. I’d nurse in the mall, at the park, or at a drive in movie. When he was hungry, he ate! I could go out to dinner and nurse at the table and people wouldn’t even realize what he was doing. I nursed in a sling, and with him under my shirt. I nursed in cars with blankets in the window (to keep the sun out of his face, not to keep people from looking in.) “Sometimes” I would use a cover, but only if the top I was wearing exposed my belly. My husband was incredibly supportive of our breastfeeding relationship, and though he enjoyed giving a bottle of expressed milk he never pressured me to wean. The only public place I couldn’t nurse comfortably was in front of my in-laws.

Believe me, I know how odd it sounds. I could (and did) nurse my child in front of total strangers without a second thought. At the in-laws, I wasn’t comfortable feeding my own child in the same room as everyone else. Looking back on it now, I think it’s because it was obvious from the very beginning that they were uncomfortable with my nursing in front of them. As soon as baby Gryph started his hungry fussing I was ushered upstairs, to be alone. I’d perch on the edge of a hard twin sized bed in a hot cramped room so that I could have “privacy.” Even at my own home when they visited I felt the need to cover up or excuse myself to a different room to keep them from feeling uncomfortable. It made ME uncomfortable because THEY were so uncomfortable with it! Gryph weaned earlier than I’d like, and part of the reason was the lack of breastfeeding support. I was being pressured by my mother in law to use formula, to get him on solids, so that she could bond with him. Though my intention was to nurse for a full year, after six months I gave in.

When my daughter arrived 20 months or so after my son, I was determined to do things differently. She nursed exclusively for six months before we even begun solids, and was my first co-sleeping baby. The fact that I nursed my daughter AT NIGHT in MY BED was another reason that my nursing relationship wasn’t supported. Zoe needed me to sleep, and therefore could not spend the night at Grammy’s … therefore breastfeeding is bad. I got better about not leaving the room in my own house when they were visiting, and managed to spend some time with the rest of the family at their house by nursing downstairs wrapped in a huge quilt, but oftentimes felt like an outcast. Once Zoe was a year old, there were numerous comments to the effect of “is she STILL nursing?” and “When are you going to wean that baby?” Zoe nursed for the last time at almost 15 months old, and I was satisfied.

When our last child, Drake, made his appearance I didn’t care what anyone thought any more. I found it silly that something so natural as breastfeeding seemed to creep them out. I fed my child wherever I was, with no cover, without care for who was there or what they thought. I have photos in which I am nursing Drake and my mother in law has airbrushed a shirt on me. I thought it ridiculous and told her so. This is MY child, and this is how he eats. As a funny side note, my husband just reminded me that when I’d start to nurse Drake in my in-laws living room the area would magically vacate. Suddenly everyone had somewhere else to be, or made a very pointed demonstration of “not looking.” I chuckled inside…you’d think after three children they’d have learned to deal with it. Drake is now three, and STILL nursing (gasp!) I’ve been told how concerned she is that he still has breast milk, and how I’m somehow damaging my child. Pfft. He’s the healthiest of all my kids, and I’ll nurse him until he’s ready to wean himself.

The husband and I are trying for baby four at the moment. Will I breastfeed? Darn tootin’. Will I leave my living room to do so? Not a chance. If I can’t convince my own family that breastfeeding is natural, normal and healthy then how am I going to convince a total stranger?


Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Lets Talk About Co-Sleeping

I want to talk about co-sleeping. When I was pregnant with my oldest, sleep sharing wasn’t something I considered doing. I had heard the horror stories of babies suffocated and squished, and to be honest I thought it a little odd to not want your child in his own crib, and in his own room. When baby Gryphon was born, he spent the first few weeks of his life in a bassinet at the foot of our bed. I’d wake when he cried, nurse him to sleep by the glow of an infomercial, and then place him back into his little bed. I actually awoke in a panic numerous times those first weeks, convinced I had “forgot” him and he was suffocating in my sheets!
By eight weeks old, G was a champion sleeper with consistent 6 to 8 hour stretches at night. He was also in a crib, in his own room. I never really felt sleep deprived. He was a mellow, laid back baby. I had the freedom to nap during the day when he did, and Darling Husband was very hands on with the little guy.
Fast forward eighteen months when I delivered my daughter Zoe. G man was 20 months old, an active toddler, but still a great sleeper. I’d put him to bed about seven at night, and he’d sleep through until seven the next morning. Zoe, on the other hand? Not so much.
Z was what Dr. Sears refers to as a “high need” baby. It’s also what my husband called “demanding,” “stubborn,” and “annoying.” The princess wanted what she wanted, she wanted it ten minutes ago, and how DARE you not have read her mind? She wanted to be held, rocked, worn, and with you constantly. Neither the swing or the bouncy chair soothed her long. She was a frequent snacker at the breast, and I swear she didn’t sleep more than two hours at a stretch until she was six months old. I was exhausted. To make matters worse for me, the better half had started a job that had him traveling. A lot. Like, five days a week. I was losing it.
Then, one night, something happened. I brought Z to bed by the light of the tv to nurse, and I FELL ASLEEP! With my baby. In bed. You know what? I didn’t kill her. What happened instead was that I slept. And she slept. And when I woke up in the morning after SIX consecutive hours of sleep, I felt like I could rule the world. I felt like I had discovered some huge secret. Zoe wanted to be close to me. When she was, she was calm and happy. When she wasn’t … well — no one was happy.
I “pretended” that I has fallen asleep nursing her to anyone that asked. And yes, yes … I’ll teach her to sleep in her own crib soon. We all know if I don’t move her now, she’ll never learn to sleep alone. The truth was that I loved sleeping with her. Being woken up in the morning to little pats on the face and smiles was fantastic. Often she would nurse at night and I would stir just enough to give her easier access before we’d both drift back off. I was no longer resentful of my own child!
When three years later our third child Drake arrived, life was even more hectic. My husband was seven months post stroke and still adapting to the loss of use in his right arm and leg. We had been forced to uproot the family and move half way across the country. I had some complications with Drakes delivery, and as a result had severe post partum depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Drake had been born with a clubfoot and was undergoing weekly castings that left him miserable and inconsolable for days Co sleeping was my savior, and Drakes. When it all got too much we’d lie down in the dark together,alone, and comfort each other I didn’t even pretend to want to put him in a crib.
Before we lost our last pregnancy, I had posted on Facebook that I was painting the nursery. That post drew a comment that I really resented. It read “Who are you kidding? Your babies always sleep in your room, and even in your BED!” Needless to say this is a person who has made it clear previously that she disapproves of co sleeping.
If I hadn’t been so upset and unwilling to start a war on my Facebook page, this is what I would have said:

“Why would you expect an infant to be held and loved all day, and then ignored at night? Doesn’t it feel odd to sleep in your bed when your husband (or partner) is away? Aren’t you lonely? In countries all over the world a family bed and sleep sharing is considered the norm. If it works for me, and it works for my family, then why are you so against it?”

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