As a new mum, you’ll realise soon enough that you have to wake up many times during the next few weeks and months to feed your baby. Some mums decide to feed their little one on-demand, while others nurse every two to three hours. Whichever nursing pattern you follow, it will require you to wake up several times during the night. Naturally, this makes you want to co-sleep with your bub. Co-sleeping can be done in several ways. You can co-sleep with your baby close to you in a separate bassinet, share the same room, or even share the same bed.
While Red Nose Australia recommends that mums share the same room with the baby and not their bed, other researchers and specialists hold different opinions. Several studies imply that co-sleeping and bed-sharing are common among parents because of their relationship with breastfeeding. There are, however, some pros and cons that you need to look into before you decide what’s best for you and your baby.
- Co-sleeping minimises sleep disruption - It can be highly disturbing for a new mum to wake up through the night and go to a separate room to check up on the baby each time the baby cries. It can also be hard for such mums to sleep because their ‘mum brains’ will be tuned in to listen to their baby the whole night.
- Keeps your baby well-fed and settled - One of the reasons why co-sleeping is best for breastfeeding is because it lets you respond to your baby’s early feeding cues. Your bub won’t have to fully wake up and cry to let you know that they’re hungry. It makes them less cranky and keeps them well-settled. This, in turn, allows you to feed them well and keep up the nutrition. The quick response also allows your baby to trust you more.
- Gives you more time to rest - Co-sleeping and breastfeeding are perfect together because you do not have to wake up completely from your sleep. Allow your baby to lie beside you and rest while your baby feeds. Whenever your baby needs a nappy change or a cuddle through the night, you’ll be right next to them.
- Helps maintain the breast milk supply - Mums who want to breastfeed their babies for a long time are told to nurse their babies often. Co-sleeping with your baby lets you frequently nurse, which minimises any issues of breast milk supply.
- Prevents postnatal depression - Giving birth to a baby can be a difficult and traumatic experience. Whether it’s your first baby or not, you are always at risk for postnatal depression. However, keeping your baby next to you brings you positivity and bonding, preventing negative emotions.
- Engages your partner - Co-sleeping in the same room lets your partner care for the baby with you. Sometimes, at night, your partner can bring the baby to you from the crib instead of you having to get up all the time.
- SIDS - One of the main reasons why several health professionals discourage co-sleeping in the same bed is the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). SIDS in babies is known as the unexplained or unspecified reasons that result in a baby’s death.
- Co-sleeping and older siblings or pets - Co-sleeping with anyone other than their parents can be extremely unsafe and dangerous for babies. Avoid co-sleeping if you have older children or pets in the same room or bed.
- Alcohol and drug consumption - Parents who have consumed alcohol or are intoxicated with drugs are more likely to face accidents with their babies through the night.
- Sofa-sharing - Sharing a sofa, armchair, or beanbag increases the risk of accidents and is highly discouraged.
- Obesity - Obesity in parents can leave less space on the bed, causing problems. It becomes harder to feel where your baby is and can cause you to roll over onto them accidentally.
- Overheating - Co-sleeping carries the risk of overheating or covering your baby’s face, which can lead to death.
- Problems in the transition to the room - Co-sleeping makes it harder for babies to transition to a room or bed of their own. However, sleep training and other methods help with transitioning and maintaining regular sleep patterns later on in life.