This is my account of how bedsharing became part of our sleep solution, despite all the warnings from health care professionals. It is not designed to give you advice. We have other articles on bedsharing safety and infant sleep safety.
With my first baby sleep was a shock. Or rather the lack of sleep was a shock. My baby was perfectly happy, as long as I didn’t put him down. In the day, in the night; he was no trouble at all unless I put him down and wasn’t touching him.
I couldn’t put him into the Moses basket without him waking up. I had to get my partner to get out of bed to try to put him in the Moses basket. Still, he would often wake up, and getting him settled and back to sleep began all over again.
6 weeks in and I felt like I was at my wits end. I was awake all night feeding him and trying to put him down. My only solid sleep was the couple of hours before my partner went to work and he took him and I could sleep. I felt like I tried everything, except ‘giving in to bedsharing’. All I had been told about bedsharing from health professionals was how dangerous it was. It took weeks for me to remember the course I did before birth, the one that told me that lots of parents end up bedsharing, even accidentally, and about how to make it safe.
I talked to a friend who was a La Leche League counsellor who gave me books on sleep, and bedsharing. She told me that she had bed-shared. In fact, I realised, I knew I had friends who were bedsharing, but the ‘it’s dangerous’ line made even thinking about it seem wrong.
Making bedsharing as safe as possible
I researched how to bedshare as safely as possible. My partner was nervous about it, and worked operating heavy machinery. He went and slept in the spare room. We dismantled the bed. I had a mattress on the floor and layers of cotton blankets instead of a duvet. I had a pillow, but it was high on the mattress away from my baby. He stayed at my chest height feeding on and off all night. He slept. I slept. It worked. It didn’t feel risky. In fact I felt much better able to take care of us both, because I wasn’t so crushed by lack of sleep.
Baby number two: feeling informed
This continued for the best part of a year. Eventually, when he was older and able to crawl around, he had a separate mattress. It was on the floor next to mine and he came and joined me when he needed to.
When our second baby came along I knew I bedsharing would be a tool I could use if and when I needed it. I did need it.
However, the second time aroundI knew about the risks, and how to minimise them. I was informed, and I felt able to meet my needs and my baby’s needs. My point is not that everyone should make the choices I made. Rather, I think everyone should have the information to make the best choices for their family. That includes understanding the risks involved in all sleep set ups for you and your family. Families also need to know how to make whatever option they choose as safe as possible.