Photo courtesy of peaceful parenting momma, Sheena Davies ~ cosleeping at 37 weeks pregnant.
Cosleeping is a wonderful thing that allows children to have the closeness and security they need during the night, and helps parents wake up more quickly when their child needs them. It also gives many parents of small babies the chance to get many more hours of sleep than they would if they slept separately from their little one, because mom doesn't need to get up to nurse – she's right where she needs to be.
Our daughter slept with us from day one, starting immediately after she was born at home. When I got pregnant with our son, I knew that she was not ready to move to her own bed by any stretch of the imagination – especially because so many things would be changing for her once her brother arrived, and she was also potty learning. I wanted my daughter to continue to reap the benefits of cosleeping, but was concerned about my growing body and the fact that pregnancy signs like insomnia, back ache and heartburn often forced me to get up many times during the night.
Perhaps all those little things that wake pregnant moms up during the night prepare us for a lack of sleep once our babies are born, but that is a whole different topic. I was worried that my toddler might kick me in the uterus, as she was a very restless sleeper, and I was also concerned that she may wake up when I did – which was a lot! Then, there was the fact that there was less and less space in the bed as my pregnancy progressed.
Here are some things that helped us:
• We bought a bigger bed, which was a great investment since we were also planning to continue cosleeping once the baby arrived. It made a huge difference, especially because my daughter liked to sleep in weird positions that take up a lot of space, as many kids do.
• Toddlers sometimes need the familiar feeling of a parent next to them to stay asleep. My toddler ended up snuggling with dad instead, so that she wouldn't notice when I was gone during one of the many nightly bathroom trips.
• I was given a full-body maternity pillow to help me sleep. It was great, and also prevented my toddler from kicking me in my tummy at night. Whenever I needed peace and quiet, I would put the pillow between me on one side, and my toddler and husband on the other. Later on, the pillow was also a handy tool to prevent the newborn from falling off the bed. [I've since learned the founder of peaceful parenting did the same when pregnant - only she had two body pillows! Lucky woman.]
On the whole, cosleeping while pregnant was rather uneventful. There was just no way that my pregnant body was going to "suffocate" my daughter, and she hardly ever woke up when I did. Cosleeping through pregnancy prepared everyone, including our toddler, for a family bed with a baby as well. Just as my older child didn't wake when I went for my nightly vomiting trips, she also did not notice the baby once he arrived - even when he fussed at night!
Turn Your Crib into a Co-Sleeper
Baby Sleep Resource Page
Helpful Baby Sleep Books!
Olivia Maloy writes about fertility, pregnancy and parenting at Trying To Conceive. Take a look at her ovulation calendar for a little help in pinpointing your most fertile days.