Dear Moms and Pops,
So often we, as doulas, find ourselves tiptoeing around the topic of co sleeping and bed sharing between parent and child. It’s a hot topic, often sensationalized in the news. It is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and some experts list the practice as a risk for SIDS.
On the flip slide, mothers (breastfeeding women in particular) often feel an instinctive pull toward the practice of sleeping near Baby. This urge is as strong and real as holding your hand out to protect a child at a sudden car stop, as smelling the top of Baby’s sweet little head, as the way you move through childbirth — intuitively and involuntarily.
What’s more, there are many well-respected experts — doctors, biologists and behaviorists — who believe that there are actually health benefits to sharing a bed with Baby. And the AAP recommends room sharing at the very least — proximal but separate.
Because of the strict guidelines for safe sleep, it’s difficult for a postpartum doula to come in to your home and legally recommend sharing a bed with your baby. We’re not even supposed to condone it. Kind of a bummer for me personally, because I want to support all of your parenting choices.
Also, I slept with my babies. I loved it. And it really scared me and confused me when my instinctive choice was shamed by nurses or other health professionals. On the flip side, it meant everything to hear that a doctor, nurse or doula supported my decision. Some of them helped me find safer ways to co sleep and made suggestions that helped quiet the anxiety brought on by the naysayers.
In the end, I relied heavily on the Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper, which turned out to be a happy medium. I still had my children right in bed, at times…thoughtfully and mindfully, carefully and safely. Most of all, lovingly.
As we delve into sleep at the blog and as we launch our sleep consultation program, which aims to create good sleep habits and gentle independence, I want to acknowledge those on the co sleeping – room sharing – bed sharing spectrum.
I know that you love being near your baby and I know that you do so with care and concern for safety. I know that those horror stories almost always turn out to be a situation in which the bed sharing parent breaks the Safe Sleep Seven — the rules for bed sharing. Usually, the horror stories take place when a family drastically breaks the rules — placing Baby next to an older sibling or intoxicated step parent who smokes.
As a company, we are all about what gets a parent the most sleep. We are also about safety. As a doula, I trust you to FOLLOW THE RULES, do your research, weigh the benefits and risks of any parenting practice and to make the right choice for your family. I trust you to sleep INTENTIONALLY and I trust you to call us if you have ANY questions about your sleep practices or environment.
With much love from your doula,