I have known moms who are really nice to their babies/children during the day, but totally ignore them at night. What kind of a message does that send? If you are lucky enough to be a mom, you have to accept that your job will not end with the setting of the sun. This doesn't have to be such a big deal, but we have made it that way. Of course it's aggravating to get out of bed ten times a night, trudge over to the crib, pick up a screaming baby, nurse her to sleep, and carefully put her back down without waking her up. That's hard work, so it's no wonder that people have begun to justify leaving the baby to suffer "for their own good." None of that is necessary, or biologically appropriate. Babies are supposed to sleep beside their mother. They can nurse at will, have their temperature regulated by her body, and feel safe.
I have slept beside three different babies now, and except when one was sick, I have never had the classic sleepless night of modern parenthood. My babies didn't wake up crying at night. They began to wiggle and grunt, and got a breast before they were really awake. Their father had beautiful, uninterrupted nights, and mine weren't all that interrupted either. My youngest was sleeping for 4 hour stretches from the moment she came home from the hospital.
I won't go into the details of how to cosleep safely or why people stopped thinking it was normal. Go to http://naturalchild.org/articles/sleeping.html for that. There are tons of great articles, including ones from James McKenna, who is an infant sleep expert. "Our Babies, Ourselves" by Meredith Small also has great information.
I did mention in my previous post that I would list some co-sleeping products on the market that might make things easier for you, so here they are:
- a Snuggle Nest is a plastic rectangle with padding. You put it in your bed between your partner and yourself and place the baby in it. You get to have the baby in bed, without worrying that you will roll over and crush her (not a rational fear unless you've been drinking or taking medication). My problem was that when I got it for my second baby, I had to have an unexpected c-section. I could not prop myself up to nurse him over the side of the nest because of the excruciating pain.
- a bedrail for your bed is a great idea. Make sure to get one that won't leave a gap for the baby to fall through or get trapped in. I didn't have one with my first, which I thought was fine because she always stayed right next to me. When she was 14 months old, though, she became more active at night. She fell out of my bed once, hit her forehead on my bedside table, and bears the tiny scar to this day. That was stupid of me, and I never coslept another night with a baby without a rail.
- a co-sleeper bassinet looks kind of like a playpen with a high bottom. It attaches to the side of your bed and gives the baby her own place to sleep, while keeping her beside you. Since my babies have all slept with their heads at breast-level cuddled up to me, this wouldn't have worked well for us, but I can see it's many useful applications.
I'll end by pointing out that by just having your baby sleep in the same room with you, you lower their chances of dying of SIDS by 50%!!!! Also, the big study that came out a few years ago saying that babies are in danger when they sleep with their parents not only included shady numbers (www.askdrsears.com), but was conducted and put out by the people who make cribs. Talk about a conflict of interest!