Thursday, 16 March 2017

Safer Sleep Week: An Excuse For Some To Make Us Feel Inadequate?

Before we start a huge debate/argument about whether co-sleeping is good for your child let me put in a (large) disclaimer. There is a plethora of research and blog posts displaying opinions about co-sleeping. At the moment you don't have to look far to come across one, to show there are two explicit sides to the co-sleeping argument. 

Co-sleeping in many cultures is actually the norm, in the UK, the US, Australia and other western cultures we are not always given this as an option by our healthcare providers when they are educating us about caring for our babies. There was a look of horror on the face of a health professional I recently saw, where I admitted to co-sleeping. My husband and I are very happy with the arrangement and feel the pros outweigh the cons.  When you mention co-sleeping, some look at you strangely and others are relieved you've brought it up so they can admit to doing it too. I neither advocate nor condemn co-sleeping.  We have tried both and right now, due various reasons we have decided to stick with it.

13th - 19th March is Safer Sleep Week, a campaign by The Lullaby Trust to raise awareness on reducing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Having read into the campaign extensively I am now fully aware of everything I need to do to prevent SIDS in my household, to be honest, I was aware of most of it before hand, dare I say most of it is common knowledge?  Some people follow these guidelines religiously, others not at all. I consider myself well educated, I read, to death, about the pros and cons of co-sleeping, the risks involved and ways to minimise them and how to practice it safely.  After much research, this is what we do.  Safe co-sleep. 

I didn't co-sleep with Emelia when she was a baby, but I do with Oscar.  There are some nights, like last night that Emelia was distressed and after hours of trying to settle her in her own room, and in a desperate attempt to get some rest before Oscar wakes she ends up coming into our bed.  It provides her with comfort and security, in her little life so much has happened, you only have to read some of my blog posts to understand just some of what's gone on in her 2 and a half years, so if sleeping in our bed now and then makes her feel secure why would I change it? Wouldn't you want your child to feel secure and comforted? 

In terms of Oscar my reasons for co-sleeping are very different, and I won't apologise or be made to feel guilty for them.  I am aware of the risks of co-sleeping, and the association with SIDS, as I have mentioned, but as I also mentioned, we practice safe co-sleeping. If you're reading this, irritated by my opinions and actions I ask you to just sit for a moment, close your eyes and think about the moment you held your baby for the first time,  likely to be moments after you delivered him/her, I imagine you were able to hold him (I'm referring to him for ease) and once you were back on the ward, able to have him in the little crib next to you and start the wonderful journey that is motherhood. Now imagine waking up and not having any idea what your baby looks like, or being able to see him until the following day, when you'll be allowed an hours visit, imagine spending the first 3 weeks of your child's life as nothing more than a spectator, you're not allowed to do anything, you can barely even touch him.  This, was my reality with Oscar, I missed out on the first 3 weeks of his life, I had it taken away from me, through no fault of my own and therefore developed an almighty desire to have him as close to me as possible. Some will say this makes me a bad mother, that I'm willingly putting him at risk of SIDS and I'm sorry but I have to disagree.  Lets look at some of the other risks of SIDS. 

Breastfeeding; breastfeeding reduces the risks and much to my health visitors disapproval I am a bottle feeder, something that pained me for weeks, I was physically unable to breastfeed.  "So express?" I hear you say, I tried, I tried every 2 hours round the clock for a week and got virtually nothing, turns out my body was too busy trying to keep me alive and was unable to produce any milk. In any case, the amount and type of antibiotics I had to have, to again, keep me alive, wasn't safe for Oscar, therefore meaning even if I had a milk supply, I had to stop expressing.  Something that was completely out of my control, does this make me a bad mother?  I don't think so.  What about the mums who decide breastfeeding isn't for them, are they bad mothers? I highly doubt it, the babies are being fed, growing, thriving and happy.

Low Birth Weight; The health visitor kindly informed me that Oscar was extremely high risk of SIDS because he had a low birth weight.  Again, something entirely out of my control, he was born at 32 weeks, having initially gone into labour at 28 weeks.  Neither scenarios ideal, and neither able to be helped. So why was I made to feel as though it was my fault. 

I'm sure some of you are questioning, taking everything into account, why am I adding to his risks by initiating co-sleeping.  The simple fact is, it works for us, and I don't see it as a risk.  I see it as a great thing for our family.  It's provided me extra bonding time with him, I've been able to have skin to skin that I missed out on before, I get to spend time with him that I don't during the day because I have a toddler to entertain.  After an awful few months it's provided me and us with a great amount of comfort, for that I won't apologise. 

Safer Sleep Week is great way of raising awareness, it's certainly got us all talking.  I have to question why, as women and mums we are so hell bent on bringing others down, making each other feel inadequate.  Why do we have any right to judge someone else's decisions on raising their child? What do we really know about each others personal circumstances? Very little. 

If you're the perfect parent then I salute you.  I'm sure you've never sat, cradling your baby so sleep deprived that your eyes have closed for a moment, dare I say it bring them into bed with you for a moment? I'm sure you've also never wanted to scream when they've screamed for 4 hours straight for no rhyme or reason?  I'm also absolutely certain, you've exclusively breastfed your baby, given them nothing but organic wholesome food and you fill everyday with educational activities and certainly never allow them to watch television just so you can go to the toilet in peace or put a load of washing on. If you really are the perfect parent I'd love to meet you, because I need to know how you do it, please do get in touch. 

Awareness days, weeks and months are great for increasing our knowledge on a specific subject, but clearly an awful excuse for some to tear people down.  It's such a shame, I see it throughout the year with other issues and it upsets me, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, you may not agree or want to practice what someone else is and does, that's fine too, but there really is no need to be belittling each other and fighting about who's right and who's wrong. Lets be honest, who really is right when it comes to parenting?  I know I'm not, and I'm sure, hand on your heart, you aren't either.  

We should be supporting and encouraging each other, not making each other feel inadequate and failures. To the parent who's drifted off for a moment cradling your baby, don't feel guilty I've done it too.  To the parent who is practicing safe co-sleeping, you're amazing, you've found something that works for you and your baby, you're both getting rest and your practising it in a safe manner.  To the parent who doesn't co-sleep, you're amazing too, you've found a way to settle your baby and make them feel safe and content in their own cot/room.  To ALL the mums and dads out there who are simply striving for their baby to be happy and healthy and are finding their way as they go, learning everyday from the good days and the bad, you are all doing an amazing job and you should be very proud and know that we all, have moments as parents that make us feel tremendously guilty. We all have them. 

Some of my lovely Mumma friends have shared their views on Safer Sleep Week/experiences of co-sleeping on their blogs, have a read of them here: 
Lucie - Jenna - Georgina - Kirsty 

We are all doing the best we can and we are all doing a bloody good job. 



  1. I think educated co sleeping is very different to falling asleep in bed with your child. People just need to ensure they are practicing safe methods of co sleeping.

  2. We co-sleep now and again too but in a safe way! That's the important bit.

  3. I think it's always better to do what works for you and your child. We got told so many different (and often conflicting) pieces of advise for our daughter, but in the end, we just did what worked for her. You know your child better than anyone else ever will! :)

  4. I hate that this has become such a controversial subject. I definitely think that people need to be made aware of the risks, but not in a judgey way - help people to understand how to do it safely. It is far safer for me to co-sleep (specifically bedshare) with my son than it is for me to try and go to work full time on 3 hours sleep a night. That is not good for me, my family or my company! We have co-slept on and off since Alfie was a newborn - as a breastfeeding mum who couldn't physically get out of bed after a c-section, it was much easier to be able to lie down in bed and let baby "help himself" than try and keep getting him out of his basket to feed him. Do what works for you is my motto! As long as it's done safely, what's the issue? Well done on a great post :-)

  5. I find people are generally supportive, or at least accepting about co-sleeping. I also think that safer sleep week is a great thing, where proper scientific studies have shown something reduces SIDS then it's essential everyone knows about it. If they choose to ignore the advice in favour of better sleep that is their choice, but at least it's an informed one (I'm talking about putting babies to sleep on their tummy or in their own room etc).
    Health Visitors being anti-co-sleeping is different, that's not about science, too many studies have lumped stats about falling asleep accidentally with a child (eg on the sofa) with intentional co-sleeping. Yes there is a known to be an increased risk of SIDS with preterm babies and formula fed babies but I don't think there is much reliable research to say whether they make co-sleeping more harmful.

  6. We co-sleep with my toddler too. She is also 2 and a half and just doesn't understand why she needs to sleep in her own room away from me and her dad at night in the dark when she wants comfort. We tried reward charts and all sorts but I have given up as when I put myself in her shoes I can totally see why she wants to come in with us. She wants a cuddle and to feel safe. I hate the looks people give when you say you're co-sleeping like you're a terrible parent. Even family commenting and tutting. It works for us and it's none of their business

  7. Everyone's doing a fab job and we also had a sleepyhead for our girl but didn't pick one up until she was at least 2 months old. The cot was just too big for her and she didn't feel secure/safe. Definitely one of our best buys.

  8. My daughter has co slept with me since day 2, she is now 3 years old in 6 weeks. And I love every minute of it, as a parent you are automatically aware of your surroundings and always on high alert, but it does cheese me off when people frown upon it, but they don't sleep in my bed, so not really fussed. If I have another child they might not want to, they may want their own space which is fine x

  9. Love this so much! You're totally right, we do what we have to do to survive in terms of sleep!