Co-Sleeping works for me

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep, that is the question.

4c89a-img_3849

As I have stated in previous articles, I breastfed both of my babies. I also co-slept with both of my babies. For me, breastfeeding and co-sleeping went hand-in-hand.

 

I started out with my first born sleeping in a bassinet for the first week or so, but it was extremely hard to get up and down with my cesarean wound. Getting adequate sleep was also a factor. It is very likely that I would have given up breastfeeding without co-sleeping. It was just too hard.

 

Despite the fact that I felt very comfortable co-sleeping and that it allowed me to overcome some of the difficulties that I was experiencing as a new mother, I felt down right scared to reveal that my baby and I were co-sleeping.

 

The stigma in our culture around co-sleeping was like a weight around my neck. I felt like everywhere I turned, someone was wagging their finger at co-sleeping parents, siting false information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

 

IMG_2675.JPGThe truth about co-sleeping is that research around it reveals a much different story. According to “Why babies should never sleepalone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharingand breast feeding,” an article published by James J. McKenna and Thomas McDade in the Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, “mother–infant co-sleeping represents the most biologically appropriate sleeping arrangement for humans and is both ancient and ubiquitous simply because breast feeding is not possible, nor as easily managed, without it.”

 

The article goes on to point out that in the time frame when co-sleeping fell out of favor with the masses, the 1950s, doctors were recommending cow’s milk over human breast milk. Something which we would consider crazy today.

 

Not to mention, the original reason for recommending against co-sleeping was to help resume a healthy sex life between married couples. Male doctors, telling new mothers that co-sleeping was bad for their marriage.

f8817-img_0052

McKenna and McDade point out the obvious fact that, “while recent cultural implements such as cribs, mattresses and bedding did not evolve to protect and feed infants throughout the night, protective maternal behaviours including bodily contact between the mother and infant during co-sleeping most certainly did.”

 

While I don’t think that co-sleeping is right for everyone, for me it is. My maternal instinct doesn’t allow me to sleep without my baby being near me. I need to feel her close to me, to know that she is safe, and to attend to her needs as quickly as possible. Just like I did for her very independent big brother.

 

The decision about whether to co-sleep or not is for you, the parents to make. If you are a heavy sleeper, if you take medication or drugs that inhibit your ability to easily wake up, if you sleep with 25 pillows and 5 blankets, guess what, co-sleeping is probably not for you.

 

However, if you are an exhausted breastfeeding mother who falls asleep while laying with her baby, don’t fret. Mothers have been doing this since the beginning, and for some of us, it is the best way to support our babies as they transition into independent toddlers.

7 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed him. Not because of some holistic belief, but because we were poor and breast milk is essentially free.

Breastfeeding my 2nd child was much easier.
Later, I found out that breastfed babies are statistically less prone to ear infections than formula fed babies. Since my ex-husband and I both suffered from chronic ear infections as babies, to the point where I had been rendered deaf and required surgical intervention to restore my hearing, this was amazing news.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone who had breast fed their children. I had no first had knowledge of the process, or the negatives. No one spoke to me about the hardships of breast feeding. The consultant who came to my room in the hospital, after I had just suffered through an extremely painful and scary emergency cesarean, chastised me for supplementing my new baby with formula.
She didn’t care that I was trying to recover from a major surgery and that I needed to rest after having been through an extremely traumatic event. She spoke to me as if I had been giving my newborn son poison, which set the tone for the rest of my time as a breastfeeding new mother.
That woman was wrong to treat me that way. Additionally, by not explaining the hardships that my family would face with an exclusively breastfed baby, she was downright negligent in her duties as a breastfeeding advocate.
Please, allow me to pass on to you the knowledge that I gained from exclusively breastfeeding two babies.
Breastfeeding is a huge personal commitment.
When you choose to breastfeed, you choose to take on almost all of the feedings. If you work, you will need to pump during the day or risk becoming painfully engorged and losing your milk supply.
Your breasts will leak.
You will need to wear breast pads in your bra to keep your shirts from getting soaked. You will also need to wear a bra all the time. As you might image, by the end of a day at work, if you haven’t changed your breast pads, they smell.
Mastitis is a thing.
I had no idea what mastitis was, until I was in the ER with a 104-degree fever. Your milk ducts can get clogged and infected, which can then result in a serious fever and, in my case, a brief hospital stay. As a symptom, I also had a red blotchy spot on the infected breast.
Breastfed babies eat more often than formula fed babies.
This means about twice as many nighttime feedings, or half the sleep. No one told me this, and I thought something was wrong with my son because he ate so often throughout the night as compared to my friend’s kids who slept for hours at a time.
My right breast produced much more milk than
the left. Ultimately, the left stopped altogether.
Feedings can be painful.
In the beginning, your nipples may crack and bleed. There are creams to help, but it can be painful. Pumping is also painful for many women.
You DO NOT have to breastfeed.
Formula is not poison. You are not a bad mom. Even if you started breastfeeding, if you want to stop, for any reason, it is OK to do that.
Not all women can do it.
For some women, breastfeeding is just not possible. This is also OK.
Breastfeeding my son was incredibly difficult. I was tired and depressed. Pumping was uncomfortable for me and my ex-husband was not very supportive. Despite this, I did choose to breast feed my daughter. Only this time, I was much more prepared for the hard times and sleepless nights.
This time, I have a husband who supports me and tries to help take some of the burden off of my shoulders. In the early days, when our daughter would eat and poop several times a night, I would feed her, then he would change her. It may seem small, but that extra few minutes of rest made a world of difference.
No matter what you choose to do, don’t let anyone make you feed bad about it. Love your baby, embrace the chaos and the exhaustion and do what you can to remind yourself that it is only a small amount of time in a big life.

Stop telling me to show off my post baby body

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I recently read an article about the realities of a post baby body.

 

The article, posted to the Scary Mommy Blog, focused on a professional runner, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, and her mission to share the truth of a post baby body.

 

Now, there are a lucky few out there who were gifted with the perfect genetic combination that leads them to pop out a baby and be bikini ready in weeks, no sagging, no stretch marks, no sign at all that they just had a baby.

 

For the rest of us, having a baby forever changes our body. After my son, when I was in my 20s, I managed to get back into a bikini and look good “for a mom.” I was able to hide my small mommy pouch and stretch marks with a high waist bottom. I went from a size 3 to a size 5, not too bad.

 

After my daughter, now that I am in my late 30s, my bikini days are probably behind me. The sagging skin of my belly is more prevalent, and my stretch marks are more pronounced. I am no longer comfortable with the way I look. I went from a size 5 to a size 8.

 

For some women, size 8 sounds great. However, this is my personal feeling, about my own body. I am not ashamed, and I do applaud the women who choose to unapologetically share their post baby bodies with the world. It is just not for me, and that should be OK.

 

BUT, body shaming, for lack of a better term, goes both ways.

 

When I talk about not being comfortable in a bathing suit, I am told that I should feel proud that I had a baby. I should not feel like I need to hide my belly. I should wear my pre-baby bikini with pride, and if other people don’t like it, then tough on them. And so on, and so on.

 

Here is the part that these good intentioned people are missing. I don’t care what other people think. It is my choice. I decide what I feel comfortable in. I should be able to wear whatever I want…even if what I want to wear is a loose-fitting cover-up.

 

I am all for being body positive, but I am also all for NOTpressuring anyone into doing something that they are not comfortable with. There is a difference between being supportive and being pushy.

 

So, when you talk to a mother who isn’t comfortable with her mommy pouch and stretch marks being on display, try to remember that it is her body and her choice of how to present it to the world. Be supportive of each other, even if you don’t agree.