This article in the Age has prompted some serious debate.
So here’s my own two cents.
I have to admit to sleeping with all four of my babies in the first few months of their tiny little lives.
It was not a conscious decision to sleep with my child for bonding or attachment parenting purposes (although that was a benefit.) It really was as simple as this – It’s 3 am, baby is fed and dry, and cannot settle because new babies don’t know how to settle themselves yet.
I would pop my baby on my chest, and once they could hear my heartbeat they dropped off to sleep with no trouble at all, and I dozed.
Because I know.
Because I sleep like every single other mother; with some level of consciousness on my child. In the same way that I can hear my child retch in the middle of the night, 3 closed doors away, and be in their room with a towel before the vomit hits the pillow.
I can do that, and have done many times. I bet all mothers can. It’s a Mummy superpower.
Because I am a mother. Because we are innately, biologically, connected to our children and a mothers’ “I just know” is enough.
I am sure that the mothers in this news story, that have lost babies as a result of co-sleeping, probably thought they knew too. I am devastated for them. However, we do not know what other risk factors were involved. Maybe I’m just lucky that I didn’t suffer the same fate.
But I don’t believe in luck, I believe in being smart, and being sensible and minimising risk. Some would say that not co-sleeping is how you minimise the risk.
Perhaps.That would be one way.
In the same way that never driving a car minimises the risk of ever having a car accident.
When I was co-sleeping I personally knew that I was incapable of really sleeping whilst my baby was in my bed. I also knew that my husband was absolutely capable of rolling on bub and not feel a thing, so I was acutely (acutely!) aware of that. I slept between husband and bubba every single time. There is no way I would let him sleep with baby, ever.
I don’t know how to explain this other than to say that I was not really asleep. Not really. Not like I sleep now that my children are older. Having a baby means a mother is switched on 24/7. I absolutely believe that a Mothers consciousness is always tuned to her child, even in sleep.
It makes sense to me that this sense of maternal awareness would be a biological requisite.
This news article, and my understanding of this maternal awareness, sent me on an internet search to find out if there was some actual scientific information on my theory. And there is.
Dr Sears describes my maternal awareness as “Nightime Sleep Harmony”
“Director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory of the University of Notre Dame, showed that mothers and babies who sleep close to each other enjoy similar protective sleep patterns. Mothers enjoy a heightened awareness of their baby’s presence, what I call a “nighttime sleep harmony,” that protects baby. The co-sleeping mother is more aware if her baby’s well-being is in danger.
Babies who sleep close to their mothers enjoy “protective arousal,” a state of sleep that enables them to more easily awaken if their health is in danger, such as breathing difficulties.”
It’s an interesting idea that makes total evolutionary sense.
Having said that though, if you search long enough on the internet you will always find supporting evidence for any argument. There is always good evidence for Pro or Con in any debate.
The point is this. You are the parent, you know what makes you comfortable, and only you know what is right for you and your child.
Be at peace with your decision, and allow others the judgement free liberty to be at peace with theirs.
Would I do the same thing now, knowing that the Coroner has ruled co-sleeping a SIDS risk?
I do not put some professionals opinion above my own maternal judgement. And in this particular instance, I specifically do not put a males’ professional opinion above my own maternal judgement.
I know that I am capable of ‘nightime sleep harmony’ and I know that I don’t regret one single second of my co-sleeping experiences.
They are some of my most treasured memories.