January 19, 2009

Thoughs on Bed-Sharing

Of a group of about 13 or so moms, it appears that I'm the only one who doesn't sleep in the same bed as her baby. This practice is known as bed-sharing. According to my crazy pre-natal yoga teacher (crazy because she was the friggin' breast-feeding police), bed-sharing and co-sleeping are NOT the same thing. Bed-sharing, as the name implies, means that baby sleeps in the same bed as his/her parents. Co-sleeping means that baby sleeps in the same room as his/her parents, in say, a crib or a bassinet.

So my thoughts on bed-sharing? I DON'T GET IT. I don't get it for the following reasons:

1. Smothering Baby
Although many moms do this, I would be totally freaked out about parents smothering their babies to death if they happen to move around a lot in their sleep. The two times that PK slept in the same bed as me completely freaked me out, and I had nightmares for months of smothering her to death.

2. Bed Size
Most people have queen-sized beds, and I have trouble seeing how sharing a bed with a baby AND your spouse can possibly be comfortable. And if you have a king-sized bed, wouldn't you want to enjoy that extra bed real-estate without having a kid between you?

3. Privacy
Couples with good marriages still like to get it on. How can you possibly get it on if there's a baby in your bed. I guess there are other places around the house for such happenings, but wouldn't a bed be more comfy?

4. Sleeping Through the Night
Most of my mom friends say that PK sleeps through the night because she's formula fed. And when I say sleep through the night, I mean sleeps 8-10 hours straight - no middle-of-the-night wake-ups to feed, or feeding while sleeping. That may very well be the case, but I'm pretty damned sure that the fact that PK has slept in her own crib since 1 week after she was born (she slept in a bassinet in our room for 1 week) probably helps too. I don't see how baby can possibly learn to sleep through the night if the parents get into bed at a different time compared to baby. I would imagine that the baby would wake up whenever his/her parents got into bed.

5. Spousal Agreement
Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I have a feeling that the bed-sharing thing is usually the woman's idea, and that the husbands usually just go along with this crazy-assed idea. After all, no husband in his right mind wants to piss off his new-mom wife. Especially since it may affect how much lovin' he may get. Sure, some husbands may enjoy the whole bed-sharing thing, but I really do think that most guys just cave to their wives' demands.

6. Difficulty Sleeping in Crib
Of course, after a baby is used to sleeping in his/her parents' bed from birth, getting that same baby to sleep in his/her own crib can be a difficult transition. Most of my mom friends keep asking me what I did to get PK to sleep in her own crib. Simple: we put her in her crib really early on!

7. Restless Sleep
The entire week that PK slept in our room in her bassinet was nerve-wracking, because the slightest peep out of her would cause us to fuss over her. I was positively relieved once she moved to her room. We slept better, and I'll bet you that she slept better too. If I were to do this all over again, I'd get the baby into his/her crib from day one.

I may get some angry comments on my anti-bed-sharing stance. I'm sure that as much as I'm against bed-sharing and co-sleeping, there are people who are just as much against putting baby in his/her crib early on. Thank goodness for freedom of speech!


Anonymous said...

Do you get angry comments on your blog? I know I, um, berated you once when I probably should have just gone home and got some sleep, but I think I've been civil otherwise. :)

As for bed-sharing (which I NEVER knew was not synonymous with co-sleeping!) I don't see why you need to have a "stance" at all. Do it if it works for you. If not, then don't! Just because it doesn't work for you, doesn't mean it's a "crazy-assed" idea.

To speak to your points:

1: With Jade, I never worried about this AT ALL. Even when I was asleep, I was very aware of exactly where she was and what she was doing. (I did sometimes worry about whether Michael would smoosh her, but I would've known right away. I rectified this by always having her sleep on my side, not between us. Even after she transitioned into her crib across the hall, I would often wake up a few minutes before she would. We were just in tune, and I've known quite a few moms in the same boat. With Halia, I was a little more worried because I felt I slept more deeply. Having a separate bed from Michael for a few weeks really helped because A) it made sense anyway, so we both could get as much sleep as possible and B) I could leave more space between me and Halia.

2. Again, with Jade, I didn't worry about this. Michael and I were both comfortable with Jade and Michael loved having Jade sleep on his chest. Some couples like to snuggle more than others do. Although I generally like my space when I'm sleeping, we slept in a double bed for the first few years of our marriage and even made do with twin size one week! (Pre-kids, of course.)

3. This makes me chuckle. Didn't you have sex while PK was in utero? What makes you think it would disturb her in the least once she was born?

4. Halia was sleeping 6-hour stretches when she was in bed with me (which I believe is the "scientific" definition of sleeping through the night). I think this has more to do with her own predisposition than with where she was sleeping.

With Jade, I often went to bed around 8 or 9 PM because I needed the sleep anyway. Bed-sharing doesn't have to be all-or-nothing though. There were many times that I put Jade to bed in her crib, but then ended up bringing her into our bed when she woke up later in the night, for whatever reason.

5. I don't know about this. I can only speak for my family. Bed-sharing just kind of happened, it wasn't something we really made a decision on. When I moved Halia from our room, Michael was the first one to think it was too far.

6. At the beginning, neither Jade nor Halia could sleep comfortably on their backs. We all just got more sleep if we stayed together. It took a bit of work to transition Jade (when she was a month old) but with Halia it hasn't been a problem at all. So baby's personality makes a difference. I know the Baby Whisperer would completely agree with you, and I do, to some extent. Except I know that Halia wasn't happy when she got put down on her back on Day 1.

7. I won't argue with you here. Babies may do a lot of snuffling and moving around in the night when they really don't need to be attended to. With mom radar on, it's hard to sleep through that.

The funny thing is that before Jade was born I believed that I would never share my bed with my children. I felt the bed should be a sort of sacred space for the couple. After she was born, the bed-sharing just happened so naturally, neither of us even thought about it. Putting her down to sleep somewhere else felt totally wrong and alien to me, so I didn't do it. And I think that's one of the best things you can do as a parent -- go with your intuition.

Damn, speaking of sleep, BOTH Jade and Halia just woke up at the same time!

Mrs. Shiny and New said...

With my daughter, we put her in her crib in her own room right after we brought her home but the first few days, she wouldn't sleep very long in her own bed. We found that when we brought her into our bed, she slept for longer stretches and we needed the sleep. But after 5 days, she adjusted to sleeping in her own bed without any problem.