I believe that co-sleeping and breastfeeding stand in the way of a child sleeping through the night within the first few months of life. There. I said it. Before I had children, I thought that those who woke up at night did it because they slept away from their parents and were scared or lonely. And that those who slept with their parents felt safe and secure, and slept all night. Now? I think that some children sleep all night, and some don’t. And, I also think that breastfeeding them and cosleeping doesn’t help.
Why? Because breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful thing a baby can experience. At once, he gets warmth, love, nourishment, skin to skin contact, and so much more. Remember when you were madly in love with your partner and you didn’t live together? You probably checked your phone for texts at any time of the night, didn’t you? Imagine knowing for sure you have a love note waiting for you, with all the accompanying feel good hormones. Would you wait until morning to read it? Yea. Me neither!
Despite that, I co-sleep and breastfeed on demand, all night. Yes, this means that, 2 boys later, I have not slept through the night since 2010! There are many reasons why I do this. I could list them all, but instead, I’ll give you a glimpse into the life of a breastfeeding, co-sleeping mother. Not every night is like this, but most are. Sometimes, he has a cold and can’t nurse efficiently. Sometimes, he wakes up for seemingly no reason and won’t fall asleep for a good hour or two. But in every situation, I’m high on breastfeeding hormones, I don’t need to get up and stumble to get to my baby, and I still get enough rest.
This is my life, nearly every night…
It’s 7 pm. I’m tired from running after my children all day, tidying up the same rooms over and over, and washing mountains of dishes from breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. My little one is getting fussier, since it has been about 6 hours since he last napped.
We go to the bedroom, I shut the curtains, and we slip under the warm blanket. The bedroom is completely dark. My baby starts laughing — he knows what’s coming. What a sweet sound, I can’t get enough of it! I’m so grateful I don’t have to make him cry it out.
I lie down, and he props his little legs on mine. His head rests on my arm. He quickly latches on, and I can hear his breathing slowing down. I can’t see a thing, but I know his eyes are now closed. As his belly fills with milk, my soul fills with joy as oxytocin and other wonderful hormones engulf me. I close my eyes, too. Everything is peaceful, quiet, and wonderful.
Some night, I unlatch him after he is asleep to go to my husband’s room. Yes, attachment parents enjoy intimacy too — you don’t need to share a room to love your partner! Some others, I go see our older boy. He quickly grabs and hugs me, and tells me “I love you too much to let go.” He tells me about what goes through his mind, and we talk about how much we love each other (“Bigger than mountains! Bigger than space!”). Sometimes, I’ll stay in the bedroom, and work. I don’t have a lot of time for that during the day. Or, exhausted, I’ll sometimes choose to fall asleep.
During the night, my baby will wake up several times. Every time, I bring him to my breast, he nurses for a few minutes (or seconds), and falls asleep again. I fall asleep quickly too. And in the morning, before he is fully awake, I nurse him as much as I can to steal a few more minutes of rest.
In the morning, I am rested, and my baby and I are full of love. I try to enjoy these moments as much as I can. Sure, I’m not sleeping much… But there will be plenty of time for that when my children are bigger!