Breastsleeping (breastfeeding your baby while you both sleep) can be a lifesaver to sleep-deprived moms the world over. It certainly is not for everyone, but breastsleeping can ensure both mom and baby get a great night's rest. Or, well, better rest when compared to the night you get up breastfeed in a chair or something. Still, breastsleeping is not an easy decision for a lot of moms to make. If you're thinking of trying it, or you're just curious, consider some of the things your baby wants you to know about breastsleeping, before you go for it.
With my first son, I was adamant about keeping him in the crib at night. Every night I would wake up and go to him the moment he started crying, and I was miserable throughout the entire process. How could I not have been? Nothing seemed to calm him down once he was up, including nursing. Once he was done nursing, he would work himself up again and it would take another hour to get him down to sleep. Even then, he would sleep for such a short amount of time before he would awake, yet again, for some other reason (hunger, wet diaper, who knows what else). Of course, he always loved being in my arms, nursing in my bed, but I was terrified of co-sleeping and of starting a precedent; the warnings of "he'll never leave!" ringing in my ears.
Cut to my second son, and I was all about breastsleeping. We didn't do it the entire night, but we did do it for large chunks of the night and usually after he woke up from his initial sleep stretch. I slept so much better knowing I wouldn't have to be startled awake to the sound of screams down the hall, and I could just inch my body over to nurse. As for the "he'll never leave" warning? Well, that's another story. He's almost 3, and still in our bed for a good portion of the night. Still, I'd like to think my son would've wanted me to know a thing or two about that whole breastsleeping business before we started (mainly, that him sleeping in my bed at the tender age of 3, is a fair trade), including the following:
"It Is So Easy, You Could Do It In Your Sleep"
Once you've figured out which position works best for us (and by us, I really just mean me) and we get the latch-in-the-dark thing down, you'll probably find that we can do this in our sleep. And once we've mastered that, a whole world of possibility opens up. For me, it means I get to be with you all night long. Yay! And for you, well, hopefully you'll be getting a lot more sleep so we can play more during the day (win, win)!
"Please Make Sure To Feed Me On My Good Side"
You might enjoy sleeping on your left side, but that's too bad, because this week, I'm all about your right boob. Please feed me only milk from the right boob if you want to enjoy any rest at all. I am a very picky baby. And yeah, you're probably going to wake up with an extremely difficult bra situation tomorrow morning. Sorry about that.
"Remember, This Does Not Have Much To Do With Your Own Comfort"
I heard you complain to that person on the other side of the bed about some neck and back pain. That really stinks. For you, I mean.
However, can we rewind for a bit, and discuss those nine months that I spent cramped and contorted in your womb? Yeah, that wasn't so luxurious either. I think you're due for a little neck pain for the sake of my desired nursing position. Thanks.
"Breastsleeping Means Emphasis On The Breast, But Maybe Light On The Sleep Part (Depending)"
The key word in breastsleeping is breast, so expect that that's going to be a main event during the night. If I'm in your bed and near your breasts, I'm going to want to breastfeed. If you are a light sleeper, you may be awake during some of these nursing sessions. Or maybe you are awake because you're terrified about having me in your bed in general.
You should still note that this is better than having to be up and about around the house with a fully awake baby, which is certainly an alternative. It definitely could be worse. I could be screaming at the top of my lungs, requesting your assistance for no reason whatsoever that I am aware. Don't even get me started on how long it could take to get me back to sleep if I were in a crib right now.
"Leave Me The Tools I Need And I'll Do The Grunt Work"
If you want to do the least amount of work in the middle of the night (and something tells me that that's up there in your night time priorities, just saying), consider leaving me prepared. That means, boobs out and accessible to me, your baby. Or, at least the boob that you've intended that I nurse from.
At my age, I lack the coordination and dexterity to unhook your fancy nursing bra, so unless you would like to be awoken by frustrated cries, I suggest you make this easy for me. If you do this, I'll do the rest. Teamwork!
"I'll Probably Be Doing This A Lot So You May Want To Get Used To It"
It is hard to resist such a low-hanging fruit, as they say. With you so near to me, I'll probably want to go all-night buffet style. However, you'll get used to it, eventually. You probably won't even remember every single time I breastfeed during the night, thanks to how stealthily I'm able to do it, slash your Mom Brain.
"You Should Consider Thanking Me"
Since I'll be able to sense that your milk is nearby before reaching that, "Oh my god I am starving," state that ordinarily would wake me up to scream for you, I can just start nursing without bothering you too much. You won't have to get up to get me a bottle, and you won't have to get me out of a crib and rock me in a cold rocking chair in the dark (spooky). We can stay in the cozy comfort of your bed and both remain in a lovely twilight sleep state while I nurse away. And chances are high that I won't even fully be awake, so that after nursing, I should be able to go right back to sleep with little fuss.
"Trust Me When I Say, You'll Probably Find This Quite Relaxing"
There are lots of different ways bed time could go down. One way would be a long, drawn out routine where you attempt to swaddle me tightly, put me in my crib, and listen to me scream in protest until you come and get me (and you know that you will). Or, we could just cut to the part where you nurse me to sleep in your bed while you listen to all my sweet baby noises and drink in that amazing baby smell of my head and we cuddle together all night.
But really, no, you should totally decide which one works for you. I respect your decision entirely (insert subtle sarcasm here).
"I Might Even Be Upping Your Milk Supply While We're At It"
When we breastsleep together, I tend to nurse more than if I weren't sleeping in your bed. Since you're way older than me, I trust you're good with numbers and math and all that stuff, right? More nursing means a bigger milk supply for you and more milk in my belly to help me grow. How great is that?
"Who Wouldn't Want To Wake Up To This?"
I don't know about you, but last night was damn good! I slept like a baby! And look at this face. How cute is this face? (I'm talking about my face, mom. Duh.) I'm all rosy-cheeked and happy from waking up in a nursing daze. What better way to greet the day than with me, right here, in your bed? Did you miss me?