If you've decided to bed-share, there's no doubt you've put a lot of time into weighing the pros and cons for you and your baby. But have you given consideration to how bed-sharing affects your partner? Because three in a bed isn't always the most dreamy of nighttime scenarios.
Unlike co-sleeping, where the baby sleeps near the parents, bed-sharing is when the baby is in the adult bed with the parents, as the website for the March of Dimes clarified. And although some families find this cozy style of slumber to be the perfect fit, others may have to hurdle a few bumps along the way. A mama and her baby can melt into their own world each night when they bed-share, but the other parent may start to experience some physical, emotional, and sexual downsides to this sleeping arrangement.
To start with, preparing the adult bed as a safe sleep environment switches up what parents may be used to in terms of comfort. As Kids Health, a website from Nemours explained, "bed-sharing with an infant increases the risk sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)," which mean particular precautions must be in place in order to reduce these risks. But making safety changes to the bedroom isn't the only area where your partner may feel affected, other areas of their life may go through changes too.
An interesting phenomenon happens when mothers sleep in close proximity to their little ones — they begin to sync up while they snooze. As Dr. William Sears explained on his website, the mother-baby pair arouses and even breathes in harmony with one another throughout the night. This means the other adult in the bed is exposed to a lot of waking throughout the night, which can lead to massive lack of Zs. According to Healthline, the physical effects of sleep deprivation range from moodiness to lowered immune response to impaired brain activity, leading to both short-term and ongoing problems. Because of this, some parents may need to adjust their sleep schedule to make sure everyone is getting enough rest to stay healthy.
Aside from the (very strong and real) feelings of tiredness, it's possible for one parent to feel left out of the special nighttime bonding that results from bed-sharing. This is especially true when the mother is breastfeeding, which may lead to feelings of not pulling their weight as a parent. As What To Expect's website pointed out, "that perceived inadequacy, while untrue, can ultimately cause dads to feel withdrawn and distant from their children, which may stifle future quality time." If this is the case, dads and sam-sex partners can get in on those wee hour feedings by offering the baby a bottle of breastmilk the mom has pumped, as well as finding other opportunities to bond with their little at night such as putting them to bed and changing diapers.
If you partner is one of those people who just so happens to be more turned on after hours, the extra company in the bed could create some sexual tension. The idea of no nighttime nookie can put a person in a sour mood, but with a little effort and creativity, you can discover ways for you and your partner to intimately connect. As Mothering magazine pointed out, finding new places and times to have sex can be exciting when you've chosen to bed-share. And don't underestimate the power of a nooner or a quickie while your bambino naps.
When done appropriately and safely, bringing baby into the bed can have many wonderful results for both parents, but keeping the conversation going about how this arrangement is affecting the family will help prevent any future resentments. Check with your partner often to ask how the bed-sharing situation is going for them, and keep an honest dialogue open when problem solving.