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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Co-Sleeping & Nighttime Nursing

Cosleeping, Nighttime Nursing, and Dry Diapers (?)

It's 3:46 am. About an hour ago, I woke up wondering if our little guy needed a pee. I got out of bed and took him to the bathroom and he cried. Aww, he was so tired and I didn't realize it was only 2:30 in the morning. I'm feeling really awake. This is the time I usually go to bed.

Usually I fall asleep nursing him at about nine forty or ten, and around the time hubby dear crawls into bed, I get up for some *precious* alone time... browse spoonflower fabrics, make new graphics, make connections on SF and Etsy, work on blogging, google ads, etc. Hopefully sometime soon, this will be the time that I make paintings. :X

Lately, each morning he wakes and first thing needs to use the bathroom. (He always has; lately he wants to do it NOT IN HIS DIAPER.) I discuss our "elimination communication" in other posts. Generally I'd really want to call this mommy/daddy potty training because what's really happening is that we are learning when to hold him over something we don't mind him peeing/pooing on... everytime he makes the sound "uh, uh" (poo) or "eh, eh, eh" (pee).

This is tough, but it's also beautiful. The payoff is our son, smiling and proud at such a young age and most pleased not to be covered in pee or poo on his low section, but to have eliminated cleanly... amazing.

Back to cosleeping: we have a great big king size foam mattress from IKEA and love it. (except for the first weeks- my lungs "tasted" like outgassing foam. really did not love that. We even got a hotel for the first few days. I review the mattress here (LINK tba). During our homebirth prep we covered the mattress in a giant vinyl bag (supposedly prevents bedbugs and the fabulous folks in New Zealand have found it may be preventing SIDS). If not for this mattress, I don't think any of us would enjoy cosleeping. We love each other and we need our space.

Also, we hadn't exactly known what cosleeping was or whether we'd do it when we first were planning this bed purchase and during the pregnancy. I learned about a great book called the "Family Bed" that came out sometime in the 60's-80's and was around when we were wee things. My parents in-law (love, love love them!) raised my husband this way and said we'd perhaps get more sleep if we did it. Also, they said their son was really happy to sleep with them, and that it generally went well for all involved. And- the time passes very fast... he won't be teensy for long.

While working retail during pregnancy I saw a couple with a little baby and asked how they were so chipper. They told me they were cosleeping and getting great rest, while their baby's needs were well met.

I started to realize this could work for us and started researching. Right away I found what my mom and other folks had told me- there is a tremendous amount of lobbying (corporate interests) against parents bringing their babies to bed. Those who would profit from sales of sleep products for little ones do not want us to cosleep, unless we buy a special bed called a cosleeper for our babies.

This is so cool. A study has found that breastfeeding mums make milk with higher melantonin levels at night, which it says may lead to longer sleep for breastfeeding babies and aid in the development of their circadian rhythms. So, so cool. I found this study linked from a blog called "breastfeedchicago." The info from breastfeedchicago is awesome- great facts on why nighttime nursing is so special. 

I found a research study from Notre Dame, published around 2004, that totally inspired me and confirmed what I'd been hoping. If I didn't smoke cigarettes during pregnancy (I didn't) or live in a house with cigarette smoke (we don't) and I don't drink (much) and I breastfeed (so pleased to do this) then the study shows we may be safe to sleep, and that in fact, our lil baby dude (LBD) is less likely to experience SIDS. (I've added a picture from the sleep study site of a suggested safe method of cosleeping with baby in bed. This is exactly how we naturally sleep. I tend to keep LBD on the side of the bed. Note the bed is on the floor, and there are minimal objects in bed- no stuffed animals, extra pillows, or blankets.) This research is really neat. I'm glad someone studied it before we had our son.

The idea of our darling boy dying in his sleep (he just cooed as I typed that) after experiencing his birth and taking care of him daily is... well, terrifying. Not much totally terrifies me, but now that we know him, we want to protect him. This drive to protect someone else is new and strong and terrific. I mentioned in our home birth post that I didn't sleep the first few nights- watching to be certain he breathed. (ha, ha, he did, and does, and well! and I really need my sleep!) The Notre Dame study shows that the infant who sleeps (and nurses) facing the mother breathes in CO2 which causes them to breathe deeper and get more oxygen which is obviously beneficial.

Perk: Our LBD also enjoys easy access mommy milk bar- all night nursing could happen. It's kinda up to him this way. He starts to make noise, or as of a month ago (4 mo old now) starts to sorta smack my breast, and I roll toward him and he latches. It's amazing how simple nursing is when we're all sleepy. Because of his nursing, frequent rousing, and noises, I'm not even slightly concerned about rolling onto him. Probably around month three I turned onto my belly for the first time since about 28 weeks pregnant. It just didn't occur to me that I could until recently, and I don't usually do this when he's in bed. I say all that because someone recently said, "hows your sleep, mum?" and I said, "fabulous, the little guy and I get great sleep and barely wake to breastfeed nights because we put him in with us," and she said, as so many folks have been programmed to say, "won't you crush him, or roll onto him?" Shew, I hope not, but I seriously don't think so. We discussed with our pediatrician that if we went to be inebriated the LBD should not be in with us.

Anyhow, the access to milk without having to get up is nice for him, and for me, and I just heard about another major perk. Following this paragraph is a quote from breastfeedingbasicsdotcom article on "night waking, or will i ever get a good night's sleep again?" This article discusses how breast milk gives our babies more growth hormone during the nighttime. Our baby is 28" at four months, which places him at the 98th percentile (actually above it, not sure what that means... except that we already need a new carseat by 29") and we've been wondering how in the world we have such a big kid. We are both just above average height but were normal/light babies. Perhaps it's all the nighttime nursing... or the hormones in our food? Maybe it's the excellent prenatals I've been taking. More on food in another post, some other night.
So what is a ‘normal’ sleep pattern for a nursing infant? Anthropologists have found that in cultures where breastfeeding is common, babies nurse frequently during the night and sleep close to their mothers. The low fat and protein content of human milk, and the small size of a newborn’s stomach, indicate that human babies were meant to feed frequently during the day and the night.

The more I thought about all that, and how "successful" humans are on Earth, and how we have been sleeping together for all of time (and how many people on Earth still do), the more I knew this would be something we would feel good about. Indeed, it has been a really treasured experience for all of us to cuddle at night, to wake sprawled, seeing our LBD sprawled in a position exactly like ours, and to feel such closeness to someone whose needs are entirely our business... not to mention feeling happy and somewhat proud of ourselves when people ask how we are sleeping. So well.

Love, love, love.

Check out this article from HuffPost
And this one, the Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab
And go here if you want to go directly to the "safe" sleeping guidelines
And this, (source for image below) Mommypotamus on sleeping with baby

OMG just found this image (see below) when searching for the recommended position for family cosleeping. Yowza. So scary. I hope it is a joke, but I'm certain it's not. This reminded me though of another thing we did to be safe.
Is Co-Sleeping

We did away with all extra pillows (during pregnancy we had about seven pillow "friends" in with us for comfy positioning) and extra blankets (I used to sleep with heavy, thick quilts, thermals, and switched them out for one fleecy blanket). We just keep two pillows in the bed and lay the LBD at a level lower than the pillows. (where the breasts are anyway!) We even only use a sorta flat mattress pad (and thank goodness for it, because [warning TMI] between leaky boobs, baby poo, and the occasional stray baby pee, our bed is wet a lot. :P )

Another mom I talked to who cosleeps and practices elimination communication (in her case diaper free bed time, and NO we are not there yet) said she sewed together two big wool blankets to make a mattress pad. I really like this idea- warm, absorbent, and natural.

OK, let's end on a more positive note. I found this image, too... hahahaha!

Disclaimer: This information is purely for educational purposes and is NOT meant to be SIDS prevention advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Let the Love Grow and MommyNaturally does NOT make ANY claims that any of the information or opinions presented here are considered to be SIDS prevention advice or medical advice.

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