Friday, August 19, 2011

Why We Co-Sleep


One aspect of attachment parenting that I was hesitant about was bed sharing, or co-sleeping. Before I gave birth I was a pretty heavy sleeper and tended to move around in my sleep. I thought that co-sleeping was too dangerous, at least for me.

On the day my baby was born we were wheeled out of the labor and delivery wing at the hospital and moved into the postpartum wing. I was exhausted after a 29 1/2 hour labor and in a good amount of pain after my hip went out of alignment during pushing since I was unable to use my left leg. (My leg was in an immobilizing brace after a recent injury that left me unable to walk.) All I wanted to do was snuggle with my baby. As soon as we were settled and we were practicing breastfeeding, nurses came in to check us out. They took my baby's temperature as they were taking my blood pressure, temp, oxygen level, etc.

Then the nurse proclaimed that they needed to take my baby to the NICU because he was unable to keep his temperature regulated. It was low and since he was premature he needed to go so they could do further testing. Whoa wait a minute. Premature? I argued that he was only 2 weeks early. Yes, but since he was so tiny, he needed to go. Sure he was small, but he was not tiny! My husband asked what made them think he was premature. According to the records, he was a month early. We argued again but it made no difference. They took him to lay under the warmer. The nurse said they were going to take some blood as well as the blood for the blood sugar test to check for possible infection. She promised she would let us know the results ASAP.

While I waited, another nurse suggest I pump some colostrum so he could eat in the NICU. My husband came back from feeding him and we waited. Hours passed and we heard nothing. I was told to eat and rest. I nibbled. I worried. I did not rest. Finally my husband decided that the waiting was ridiculous and called down to the NICU. They had had the results back for 2 hours and hadn't bothered to call us. My husband was livid. I was on the verge of a nervous break down. After fighting with the doctor on call for the NICU (and were told that we did not care about our son's well being) we agreed to let me hold my baby for one hour. If his temperature stabilized, he would no longer need the warmer. My husband insisted that what our baby needed was his mother, not artificial lights. They disagreed.

Guess what. His temperature regulated within the hour I held and nursed him, and stayed that way. The nurses acted like they were disappointed that they were wrong.

The next day our baby developed jaundice. He was required to spend 24 hours under bili lights and only held when nursing. We were not allowed to cluster feed. We were put on a 3 hour feeding schedule. By this point, I was suffering from sleep deprivation and complete muscle failure. I wasn't able to lift my finger. I could not rest, I could not sleep because I felt incomplete. I did not have my baby with me.

When we were finally discharged and I was laying in my own bed holding my baby, I stared at the bassinet in hatred. I did not want to let go of my baby. That first night I argued that since I was unable to walk, I would not be able to go get him when he needed me. I won and slept with him in my arms that first night and ever night since.

Once I was able to walk again, I refused to put him in a bassinet to sleep. I had become so attached to him and loved making up for the lost time. It has helped my milk supply tremendously to be able to nurse round the clock, even throughout the night.

We are still safely co-sleeping and plan to for quite a while. I've noticed I have new mama super powers that allow me to wake up seconds before he does. I sleep perfectly still and hold him close to me all night. I love it. I'm a co-sleeping convert.

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