Experts and medical professionals will tell you that the safest place for a baby to sleep in the first six months are in a moses basket or a cot. While this is good advice, sometimes you need something more convenient – this is where co-sleeping can become a new mum’s favourite way of sleeping.
As soon as my little princess was born the midwives encouraged skin-to-skin contact which I gave without hesitation. Babies love being close to their mothers so why should this have to change at night? I remember Baby Girl’s first home visit with the health visitor. She went through all these leaflets about how to care for baby, feed baby, sleep with baby and touched on co-sleeping. Here are some of the co-sleeping safety rules which can also be found on the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) website.
Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and the wall
Keep your baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet.
Ensure bedding does not cover your baby’s face or head
Always put your baby to sleep on their back rather than their front or side
Babies don’t need a pillow until they are at least a year old. They should also be kept away from parents’ pillows
Never risk falling asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair
Never co-sleep with your baby if you (or your partner) smoke/drink/take drugs that affect awareness
I DON’T co-sleep with Baby Girl when I am overly tired because it’s really dangerous to do so (suffocation, rolling on baby, etc). Who knows what could happen when I am in deep sleep that’s been spurred on from being exhausted and sleep deprived.
If you’re not confident about sharing your bed with your baby there’s really good cots and bassinets you can now buy which you put next to the side of your bed like an extension. I have a standard cot and have one side of the rail really low and next to the bed for easy access.
When co-sleeping is carried out safely, it can be a fantastic way for mother and baby to bond and you get to catch up on your sleep and get decent rest. If you breastfeed then you can do so easily and conveniently. You can even find advice on sleep training for your baby. If you think that co-sleeping is right for you and your baby, definitely give it a go, if you haven’t done so already. 🙂
I am sorry it’s been a little while but just didn’t have any time at all away from Baby Girl to write this until now. So here it is, my birth story… Baby Girl arrived when I was 38 weeks pregnant at a healthy weight of 6lb 8oz – a little chunky bubba (LO weighed 6lb 2oz and was only 5 days early). I had a natural birth and due to the fast labour on the day, there was no time to have my water birth and gas & air like I originally planned.
I strongly believe that I was first in slow labour with Baby Girl as I felt really intense and painful contractions at the start of the week (on the Monday). However, because they weren’t regular and at similar intervals apart, I ignored the signs and dismissed it as really painful Braxton Hicks which is common towards the end of the pregnancy and so I didn’t self-refer myself to Triage or call the labour ward. The rest of that week passed by ‘okay-ish’ and I managed with the contractions that were coming regularly at irregular times throughout the day. I just kept saying to myself “if I can sleep through these contractions then it can’t be real labour”.
On Saturday morning I woke up and hardly felt little movement – I told myself it’s because I am focusing too much on it so once again, I dismissed the signs that it could be real labour. It was also because this day I had organised a day out for LO to the local funfair with a friend so I didn’t want him to miss out. Plus the location of the funfair was opposite the hospital so if anything happens, I can quickly get to the hospital with ease.
We got to the funfair around 1pm and LO went on a few of the rides before wanting to go home. I felt the contractions throughout the day and was sure that was the reasons why I couldn’t feel any movements so didn’t head to the hospital. Instead I headed down to the local Tesco’s to pick up a pack of newborn nappies and some more newborn clothes and maternity pads. I had this feeling at the back of my mind telling me I needed to get these things today otherwise it’ll be too late as my maternity bags were only 80% packed.
It was then 9pm and I had just sat down and realised that the day was almost over and still I hadn’t felt any movement. At that point, I called Triage and asked if it was okay to come in to see someone regarding the movements and the midwife said yes, just to be on the safe side – it was definitely a good thing I went! When I arrived to Triage at 10pm with LO and Daddy P in tow I was hooked up to the machine and left for 30mins as they monitored me. Baby’s heartbeat was found straight away which relieved my initial fears but then those super-painful contractions returned… this time they were coming at regular intervals and I knew at that point I was in labour – it was now real.
Super intense and super fast (I also felt I needed to do a no. 2 so went to the toilet). I passed the bloody, mucus show before finally passing the bowel movement. I waddled back to where I was hooked up and the midwife said she will do an internal examination to see if I am dilated – she was very surprised to find out I was 9cm dilated and ready to push! One of the other midwives commented on how quiet I kept everything. I’m not really a screamer and I think my body just deals with labour pains really well.
Baby Girl arrived at 11:19pm. It was the fastest labour and birth I’ve had so far (30mins it said on my maternity transfer notes) and under what most mums will consider a “perfect birth” with no tears and natural delivery. As it was such a quick birth, my plan of having a water birth went out of the window. I also didn’t have gas & air as the midwives couldn’t get it to me in time. She said if she goes to get it, I could deliver the baby before she gets back so we made the decision to skip it.
Note to self and other mums: a birth plan can be pointless.
Also known as the fourth trimester, this is the period I find really challenging. The breast feeding, post-birth contraction pains, sore nipples, and sleep deprivation. The overnight hospital stay post-birth is also a killer as I always seem to be that new mum with the noisy baby keeping up the ward. Luckily my post-delivery room only consisted of me and one other new mum. I felt sorry for her as Baby Girl was so noisy and her baby was quiet (I don’t she got any rest). *guilty face*
I was discharged from hospital late afternoon the next day which was great. Part of Vietnamese culture a new mum must stay indoors for at least 1 month and banned from leaving the house however in these modern days leaving for essential appointments is possible. Certain foods should also be avoided which I didn’t really stick to this time round as my mum was constantly at work so I didn’t have someone looking over my shoulder to tell me off. 🙂 I tried my hardest not to leave the house so instead of just going out I waited for the days I had to visit the midwives to go out and get some fresh air. I am sure the fresh air also did some good for Baby Girl as she was less irritable when we were out… I guess she doesn’t like being cooped up at home too.
I’ve been super sleep-deprived and exhausted this time round. Baby Girl has problems latching on and is a really colicy baby. She is feeding well which is great as she’s gaining weight well but the colic and fussiness really gets me down – when she cries and screams and there’s nothing I can do to help her stop pains me. She had mild jaundice in the first week which has almost gone now disappeared by herself. Apparently regular feeding and ensuring that she sleeps no longer than 3hrs without a feed helps to get rid of the jaundice. I guess those 4hr periods of no feeds through the night in the first few days came at a price. 😦
Now almost a month old, the colic hasn’t improved so it means a trip to the hospital. The jaundice has gone now but I am shattered from the cluster feeding and constant crying. Hopefully a few months more and she’ll be all better and I’ll be able to get my nights’ sleep back. In the meantime, I rely on her sleeping patterns to get a little catch-up on sleep and rest.