Co-sleeping as defined here is “bed sharing”. It means to share the bed with your infant, for the purpose of breastfeeding, as well as bonding. This could encompass the use of the crib or bassinet in the bedroom (in general) or beside you when you sleep or not.
In Gettier’s article, she distinguishes between those parents who intentionally share the bed nightly, and the parents who are reactive bed-sharers. A ‘reactive bed-sharer shares the bed due to having “child sleep difficulties and / or to ease nighttime feeds (9)”. This would occur less regularly and are for shorter periods of time. Those parents who regularly sleep with the child, have the child in their bed for the full night.
SAFE BED SHARING
• If there are two parents within the household that choose to bed share both parents must agree to be
vigilant and responsive to the infant.
• Babies who are born small for gestational age should avoid bed sharing
• If the mother smokes, she should choose same room sharing, not bed sharing if she does not
• Bottle feeding parents (without breastfeeding) should also use room sharing [never prop the bottle].
• Think of the safety of the baby, and suffocation. If you have a bed set, remove the mattresses (placing
headboards, et al into storage temporarily) and move the mattresses to the center of the room.
Babies and roll and move, get wedged between the mattress and headboard (or mattress and wall)
• If you choose to keep the head and foot boards , eliminate the spaces that are between mattresses
and the head or foot board.
• Older children and pets should not be sleeping in the bed with the infant.
• Co-sleeping is not recommended if you are or have been drinking. Nor is it a good idea to share your
bed with baby if you’re doing recreational drugs.
• Bed sharing should be on a firm mattress, with no duvets or heavy bedding. Infants need to be away
from pillows or other bedding that may obstruct the infant’s breathing.
• NEVER co-sleep on a couch, recliner, or chair.
• NEVER LEAVE A BABY ALONE ON AN ADULT BED.
There benefits to bed sharing. These include: higher percentages of breastfeeding rates, longer feeding times, increased feeding during the night. Keep in mind, babies tummies are small and they would therefore feed more frequently.
It is known that there is a greater immunological benefit in breastfeeding. It is known to be a “protective factor against SIDS (Vennemann et al 2009, Gettier, 10)”. Mothers who breast feed longer are less likely to develop breast cancer as well.
Babies who bed share are awake for shorter time periods than those who sleep separate. It is thought that bed sharing assists in a “synchronization between mother in terms of arousals and sleep stage shifts (McKenna and Mosko 1994, Gettier, 10).” Both mother and father seem to get much more sleep with bed sharing, than those who do not.
The Careful Decision to Bedshare. Lee T. Gettier. (2010) International Doula. Vol. 18, Issue 1
*A more detailed document is available at the Hokṡiyuhab Oti Childbirth Education Classes*