If you sleep in the same bed as your nursing infant and breastfeed while asleep (or close to it) you're breastsleeping. I know I didn't even realize I was necessarily feeding my baby when I was breastsleeping because, well, there was no getting up to nurse. Instead I was able to rest while my baby snuggled and fed. However, and while it does lead to more restful nights, there are certain struggles all breastsleeping moms know all too well.
When I first began breastsleeping, it was out of exhaustion and desperation. My son hated sleeping and loved nursing, so I was not getting a lick of sleep (even though he was sleeping in a basket right next to my bed). That first night of breastsleeping was a revelation. Everyone slept so much better and, well, it was incredible. As a group of well-rested, well-fed, cozy, and snuggly human beings, the family bed was the answer we'd been looking for. Since that night, I've been breastsleeping with either a baby or toddler every single night for five years. I honestly can't imagine it a different way. Breastsleeping fits our family and assures me that everyone's needs are met, even, as is often not the case, my own.
Still, for as wonderful as it is there definitely are struggles only breastsleeping can offer you. As with almost anything else in life, you have to take the good with the bad. The good is sleep and, well, the bad is something like this:
Not Rolling Over...
I didn't realize it before I started breastsleeping, but the mother-infant bond is pretty much magic. Like any new, paranoid mom, I was super nervous the first night I put my newborn in my bed. However, and much to my surprise, I quite literally did not move a muscle all night.
However, I was sore AF in the morning, and every morning thereafter until he weaned.
...Or Rolling Over Only To Have To Turn Right Back Around
On the rare nights that you do roll over, inevitably, your baby will be disturbed by the jostling and decide it's the perfect time to nurse. You'll get three, perhaps four, seconds of the sweet relief that is lying on your other side (before you have to roll back over again).
Waking When You Sense Your Partner Has Shifted Closer
The mother-baby bond is, like I said, pretty much magic, but the bond between co-parent and baby might not be quite as intuitive. Moms who breastsleep have a sixth sense about a shifting partner and awaken at the slightest movement.
My baby is on the receiving end of an armpit cradle and shameless protection. My partner, on the other hand? Well, he gets a sharp elbow to the ribs.
Waking To Uneven Boobs
There is nothing quite like waking to one super full breast and one well-fed, empty breast. It's a strange experience, this whole motherhood thing. One boob is sticking out like a torpedo, while the other is like a deflated balloon.
Having One Boob Out All Night
The struggle is real, y'all. The "feeder boob," as I like to call it and a term you can totally steal (you're welcome), remains unclothed and easily accessible for dream feeds all through the night.
Having Cold Shoulders Because You Can't Cover Up
Inevitably, your shoulders get cold because you can't pull the damned blankets up and snuggle. The "feeder boob" must be uncovered at all times.
Being Unable To Walk In The Morning Because You've Been Stationary All Night
When you wake up in the morning and stretch, you hear a chorus of angels. You've been in one position all night long, and stretching out tight muscles feels heavenly (and kind of painful, but the hurt is good and if you're like me, you'll take it).
Standing, though? Well, that's a different story. Supporting your own weight on muscles that have not moved for a substantial amount of time is, well, difficult.
Sleeping On A Thick Layer Of Towels
Breastfeeding boobs leak, my friends. When my baby is nearby, they leak often, too. Having your baby in the bed, breastsleeping, is just an invitation for sour-milk puddles on the sheets, so sleeping on towels and pre-fold cloth diapers is a no-brainer. Lumpy, but smart.
Holding Your Pee Until It's Uncomfortable Because The Baby Just Went Back To Sleep
Never do I have to pee as badly as I do when it's some ungodly hour in the morning and my baby has just finished nursing and drifted back to sleep.
I know, in my heart of hearts, that if I stand up to go to the bathroom, my baby will wake up. Ugh. The struggle.
The Late Night Diaper Blowout
It never fails.
As soon as my breastfeeding baby is asleep — somehow, and in a way that defies all reason and science — he manages to poop. While he is sleeping. I mean, why?