Should I share my bed?

This morning I appeared on Good Morning Britain as a vox pop about shared-sleeping. I love shared-sleeping and wished I could have spoken for longer about how wonderful it is but I had about 30 seconds at 6am which was aired at 8am. I do not operate at the best mental capacity at 6am for anything.

Shared sleeping is often bagged into one of those attachment parenting things. I hate labeling parenting as anything other than parenting so I see it as once of those getting a good nights sleep things.

It isn’t just about my energy levels the next day but about what is best for my children. They have lived inside of me for 9 months and that separation process is a slow one. They will be more confident and happier to sleep on their own if they’ve been kept close for the first few months.

There are risks involved in shared sleeping as much as there is with anything to do with a little person who relies on you for everything. These are common sense things such as not drinking, not taking medication, moving pillows and duvets away. I never share the bed with either of my children if one of us are drunk, it is simply not safe and that is very obvious. As I am breast feeding, I don’t drink very much these days any way.

The positives though are that you get a great bond with your child, they transition to their own room better in their own time, you can respond to their cues instantly and you have the energy to meet your children’s needs the next day.

We have a lovely set up in our room, which makes shared sleeping very safe and sadly this didn’t get the chance to be expressed on TV this morning. The cot has one side down and is up against our bed so while my daughter is in arms reach and contact with me throughout the night, she also has her own sleeping space.

This works wonderfully until about 1am when she gets a feed at which point she decides that 6 inch gap between us is too much and needs cuddles. I can do so without the tears of transferring her back to the bed or risking her safety.

I always wondered why I never really rocked or bounced my children to sleep as I have known others to do and it’s because they have been allowed to get the comfort they need through the night and know that I will be right there.

It hasn’t been a easy road to this confidence about shared sleeping. When I had my first son I was told I would smother him or make a rod for my own back. It didn’t take long to realise that ‘make a rod for my own back’ was often said through sucked teeth and really meant “you’re doing something that I don’t like with your child”. In this case I was told how we would never get him out of our bed, that my husband would hate shared sleeping and I would regret it.

The opposite was true. My son went into his own room at around 1 year old and there he has stayed. It has been commented on how well he goes to bed and how happy he is there. When discussing my husband’s thoughts yesterday, as I had until now not actually asked him his thoughts because it just seemed so natural and normal to both of us, he said he felt a stronger bond to the children and it was great that no one else was woken by the night feeds. So it is fair to say he is very supportive of sharing the bed.

In fact, some of our nicest mornings are when my son wakes and comes and crawls into bed with us. We have four in a bed and some wonderful family memories.

***

The safety of home birth was in the news again today. I will be later comparing my experiences of home vs hospital from both my lovely births.

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