Bed-sharing, co-sleeping, breastsleeping. To a new parent, it can feel like the glossary of sleep-related parenting terms is more difficult to master than the actual task of parenting your baby. Luckily, the terms are fairly easy to demystify — some you may even use already without knowing there's an official name for it. Breastsleeping may fall in that camp. To many moms, the idea of breastsleeping is instinctual, before they even realize there have been a plethora of articles written on the subject. But, if you're new to the breastsleeping scene, there are a few things to know about breastsleeping before you give it a go for yourself.
If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of info there is to ingest on the subject of breastfeeding and sleep, don't worry. This quick overview of breastsleeping will give you everything you need to know to feel comfortable trying it yourself as well as answer your top concerns about the sleep method that has been taking the internet by storm in recent months.
James McKenna, one of the leading researchers on breastsleeping stated on his site that, "there is no such thing as infant sleep, there is no such thing as breastfeeding, there is only breastsleeping." With an introduction like that, breastsleeping has become a tough topic to ignore. Since the term is here to stay, here are a few things to know before giving it a try.
1. It's Not A New Concept
Although the recently coined term may make it seem like the newest parenting fad, truth be told, breastsleeping has been around for as long as mothers have breastfed. In an interview with The Huffington Post, McKenna said that the "breastsleeping system has been humankind’s oldest sleeping arrangement and feeding method."
2. You And Your Baby Will Be More Likely To Sleep Longer
According to Fit Pregnancy, mothers who breastsleep are likely to get about an hour more sleep a night than their non-nursing partner. Instead of having to wake up and go into a separate room to nurse three to four times per night, breastsleepers can stay in their beds and drift back off to sleep quicker — as will their baby.
3. It Has The Same "Rules" As Bed-Sharing
According to the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, breastsleeping can be done safely if the parents follow the same rules as with safe bedsharing. Breastfeeding plays a huge role in safe co-sleeping, as does parent's sobriety and other factors like extra blankets or padding.
4. It's Not Always Easy
Like most things in motherhood, breastsleeping isn't always easy. Despite its convenience, breastfeeding in general is a lot of work, but it's worth the effort it takes.
5. It Can Strengthen Your Milk Supply
The University of Notre Dame's office of the Provost stated that, among the other positive benefits of breastsleeping, a better managed milk supply can be a result.
6. It Can Improve Your Bond With Your Baby
The same article stated that an improved bond with your baby can be a result of breastsleeping, especially for working mothers who aren't able to spend as much time with their babies as possible.
7. It's Not For Everyone
Breastsleeping isn't for everyone. If you're not a fan of co-sleeping or bed-sharing, or you don't breastfeed, breastsleeping doesn't have to be a part of your routine.
8. It Should Encourage Parents To Learn About Safe Bedsharing
Although the concept of breastsleeping isn't a new one, the phrase, according to McKenna, is designed to encourage parents to reconsider their assumptions about bedsharing.
9. If Practiced Correctly, It Won't Raise Your Baby's Risk of SIDS
The Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory noted that just as SIDS is still a risk in situations where baby sleeps in their own room, breastsharing, when done safely and correctly, won't increase your baby's risk of SIDS.