Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cosleeping While Pregnant

By Olivia Maloy © 2011

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!


Related Reading:

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.


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17 comments:

  1. We did a version of this whereby our toddler and my husband moved to a separate room and co-slept there once I got too big and restless! It was nice, I knew my toddler was getting the comfort she needed, but I had space to stretch out and I didn't wake anyone with my nighttime bathroom-trips and beached whale noises when I rolled over!

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  2. Love it! My sister co-slept with her two toddlers while pregnant with her twins :) I only have one baby so far, but will co-sleep for sure when preggy with the next one...

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  3. This is very similar to our experience as well, only my older son is still a light sleeper and occasionally wakes when his brother fusses more than usual. Thankfully his brother doesn't fuss too much since his nursies are right there and his dad and I have found a way to change his diaper while still nursing him! ;)

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  4. The baby must feel the care already - I can see from the picture how much you love your kids.

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  5. I am currently % months pregnant and cosleeping wth my one year old all the time and my 4 year old 75% of the time. I sleep on the end baby (1 year old ) my husband and my then my 4 year old we have a king size should be intersteing in January ill repost then body heat is the best heat :)

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  6. We're welcoming our second child in about 7 weeks. DD will be 16 months when DS arrives. We are still co-sleeping with DD and have no plans to stop anytime soon. I'm looking for articles/book suggestions about co-sleeping with a newborn and another child. Mainly how to make the transition as smooth as possible for DD. Your help would be HUGELY appreciated.

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  7. Baby #2 is due to arrive at the beginning of January for us too! We have coslept with our now 2.5 year old since birth :-) We have a Calif. King. We plan to sidecar Baby #2 crib this time around. My questions are for mom's in this situation: How do you work out sleeping/nursing with an infant and toddler (DD is nursing @ night/naps mostly now). Also, how do you get out of the bed w/out waking everyone (since crib is beside you). Finally, any creative ideas for nightstand usage since crib will take its place?

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  8. I'm wondering how cosleeping works with sex. This doesn't make sense to me.

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    1. You find other places to do it or what I use to do put the sleeping baby in the bouncer beside the bed and when we were done pull the baby up into bed with us. Also shower sex is awesome. ;D

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    2. I have been co-sleeping for 19 years and through 7 children (and 6 pregnancies) Like the previous poster alluded, you can sex in other places other than the marital bed. I have a close friend who co-sleeps with her family and I know that their couch is where the magic happens in their marriage. It makes me giggle inwardly when I am at their house. We pretty much stay with our bed. We have teenagers and older children who will get up at night and I don't want to be the cause for future therapy bills. (Although that same friend suggests that if they stumble across DH and I once it wil cause an end to their nocturnal wandering. LOL) We will usually wait until the baby and toddler are asleep and then move them to the couch or a crib mattress on the floor or over to the side of the bed. (We have a King) Occasionally they will wake up and I just nurse them back to sleep. Often we will set the little ones up with a Nick Jr show or video during the daytime or have the teenager watching them so mom and dad can have some time alone to "talk" and we will sneak into the bedroom for a quickie. Pretty much you get creative and figure it out. I know that some people have a hard time with the little ones in the room with them, but we don't have a problem with it if they are sleeping.

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    3. This is why we only partially cosleep. I think the relationship with the child is very important, but we start her with us, move her to the crib (which is touching our bed), then when she wakes she comes back into the bed. Some cosleepers wouldn't agree with this, but it works for us. I think nurturing our relationship is just as important so that we can be the best parents we can be. This way, the bed is our couple space most of the time, and the baby gets to join in for family time the rest of the time.

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  9. @Yehweh Paladin - There are many places in the house for spouses to connect. It simply adds spark and creativity to a sex life when it isn't always confined to the bedroom.

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  10. Yehwah you must not leave your bed for sex huh? Well believe it or not other people do ;)

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  11. @yehweh paladin - there appears to be quite a few pregnant co sleepers on here, so they must be figuring it out somehow LOL. No, seriously, who only has sex in bed?

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  12. Yehweh Paladin: We have a big bed, so when the baby was little, we just scotched her over to the side, made sure she wouldn't fall off and well...had our time together :) She never woke up.

    Now that she's bigger (she just turned two)...there are lots of places to have sex! We still sometimes scotch her over to the side, but we also have extra beds, couches, and all sort of imaginative places. And she still never wakes up.

    The way we see it, the little bit of inconvenience that may come with cosleeping and sex (and for us it hasn't been inconvenient at all) is so worth it in the long run. Our little one is happy, healthy, loving, outgoing and secure. We don't have sex as often as we once did, but this has nothing to do with cosleeping and more to do with exhaustion! I'm currently 25 weeks pregnant with our second and my hubby gets up really early for work.

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  13. I enjoyed this entry because I'm currently pregnant and co-sleeping and find that it is a wonderful bonding time with my son. He has become more clingy lately, I think with the prospect of change, but he's ramped up his cuddling at night and it really seems to help him. I'm appreciating this special time with him.

    The comments are in another direction entirely and one I'm glad people are comfortable addressing! We certainly enjoy our time together in the bed with kiddo still in it (now age 3) but we're gradually switching to other locations. Frankly, it is more fun that way. ;-) And as others have pointed out, there are plenty of pregnant co-sleepers! I've been surprised how little this is addressed out there--I think more people would co-sleep if they weren't afraid of talking about sex for the co-sleepers. A lot of my friends have admitted that their husbands are afraid of what it would do to their love life. Sure, we have less sex than we used to but don't all parents of small children?

    I think part of it has to do with our societal attitudes toward sex as well. Either we see it as something raunchy and not-quite-respectable or as something hush-hush we don't admit to. If we can realize that its simply a loving act between two people that is, among other things, meant for baby-making, we can see it as an extremely family-friendly thing to do. Isn't that where families come from? I don't worry excessively that our son will wake up and "catch us" at it--he sees us cuddling all the time and frankly, he has no idea what may be going on in the nether regions that would make this cuddle any different than the sort he sees all the time. He has twice in the last 6 months woken up while we were in the middle of things and a reassuring word from me and he was asleep again right away and we were able to finish what we were doing. When he was a tiny baby our little guy was a terrible sleeper so I'd sometimes nurse him during sex--it didn't bother any of us (a 3 month old has no idea about sex or nudity etc) and ensured that we were completely uninterrupted.

    We are definitely teaching our children about what's appropriate and what's not, modesty, safe and unsafe touching, etc, but we feel that a healthy attitude towards sex only improves a person's modesty and respect for the act by taking away the weirdness. By the way, before anyone thinks I'm some sort of crazed sex fiend, my husband and I were both virgins when we were married and have very strong values surrounding this stemming from our Christian faith.

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  14. Rebecca KerridgeApril 09, 2012 9:34 AM

    I would love a follow up to this of 'cosleeping whilst pregnant and still night-feeding a toddler'.. sleeping's not the issue for my daughter and I, but I have no idea how I am going to cope with feeding her once a night and a NB. She is only 18 mths, and a skinny malinky, so I'm not willing to drop the night feed until she is ready...

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