Georgy’s Motherhood Musings (3). I’m actually getting enough sleep

TThere is something I need you to know: I am getting enough sleep.

Why do I feel the need to tell everyone this? In this crazy world of motherhood where you need to censor almost everything in case you make other women feel bad, am I just being smug and taking the opportunity to boast about how great a sleeper my baby is?

Ha! NO!

I’m telling you this in the hopes that people will stop giving me pitying looks when I tell them that, not only does my 6 month old baby never sleep through the night, but that every night she reliably feeds approximately every 2 hours. And sometimes, every 2 hours is generous.

“Is she a good baby?”

Yes! She’s delightful.

“So she sleeps all night then?”

No. She still feeds quite frequently.

“Oh…”

I guess she doesn’t qualify as a good baby then? So she must be a bad baby? That’s sad isn’t it, because she’s so cute and happy. She has smiles for everyone and she fills my heart with joy every minute of the day (and night). I would say that makes her a good baby, but apparently not. Only babies who manage long stretches of sleep are in the running for that title. Such a shame…

So with my “bad” baby who feeds so frequently overnight, how am I not some sleep-deprived zombie?

Well I will tell you:

Quite simply I have found a mix of two things that work for us and I am unashamedly doing both:

  •      We bed-share and
  •       We have mastered breastfeeding lying down.

That’s it, that’s our magical recipe for more sleep. And thank god, it works wonders for us.

Now, a lot of people hear “bed-sharing” and raise their eye-brows, laugh politely and then make a few comments (disguised as jokes of course, so they don’t hurt my feelings) about how Lara will never be able to sleep alone and how my husband and I are making a rod for our backs by “indulging” and “spoiling” our child.

I think the problem is that our sleeping arrangement makes some people uncomfortable simply because it doesn’t, or didn’t, suit their family. That’s fine. Each to their own, but it works for us. Really, really well! And call me crazy, but I’m not really sold on the idea of putting my baby in a cot, in her own room and reverting to zombie-mother status just so I can “fit in” to the norm. Again, our arrangement equals more sleep (not to mention all the snuggles.) I’m not giving that up for anything.

As for the feeding lying down it took us close to 4 months to master it, but this was the best thing we learnt how to do and was so worth it. When Lara needs to feed in the night she doesn’t cry, she doesn’t need to. She just begins to fuss and I can feel her little hands brushing against my pajama shirt (this kills me, this is just the way to melt a mummy’s heart, guaranteed.)

So I pull her in, she latches on and feeds. Meanwhile, I keep snoozing and then usually fall back to sleep before she finishes or shortly after. When she’s done, she’s straight back to sleep too. I never need to fully wake up, never need to sit up, never need to get out of bed. It’s brilliant. In between feeds I sleep well. I dream, but I’m also aware of her beside me and find myself frequently drifting into light sleep to check that she’s okay. And to kiss her head that is now (finally!) covered in soft hair and breathe in her sweet baby smell.

                                                                               ………………………..

I know this arrangement wouldn’t suit everyone and that’s okay. Some people can’t sleep a wink with their baby in the same room, let alone in the same bed. Some people are unable to breastfeed and even for those that can, some find it truly difficult to feed lying in bed.

But for us, these things have just worked. And I can promise you, I’m not taking it for granted.

Some days are still hard, I’m not going to pretend that it’s all smooth sailing. Especially those nights where for whatever reason she is unsettled and fusses in between feeds. But it’s on these nights I’m even more grateful that she’s close to me, so that I can comfort her and cuddle her without having to fully wake up. On these occasions a coffee with breakfast is a huge help.

So if you ever ask me if Lara sleeps through the night and I tell you that she doesn’t, and that she still feeds frequently, don’t pity me and please don’t think that she isn’t a good baby. She really is, just look at that gummy grin! We have found a way for us both to get enough sleep and for that we are so blessed. Some parents never seem to find anything that works, and these are the people who need your compassion and maybe, if they ask for it, your advice.

But not me. I’m doing fine, but thank you for your concern all the same.

By |June 17th, 2015|12 Comments

About the Author:

Georgy is an IBCLC and Midwife who lives in the Northern Rivers of NSW with her husband and two beautiful children.

12 Comments

  1. Johanna June 17, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for the great post Georgy – so nice to read about your lovely bed-sharing and lying down feeding experiences. I appreciate your openness and honesty given the quasi-taboo (in some parts of the community) around this kind of thing. Especially as this sounds exactly like my little 3 month old bubba and I. And it makes me feel reassured that what I’m doing, while in the minority no doubt, is really just fine and dandy. It’s taken me until now – with baby #3 – to work out that THIS is how one can get a decent night’s sleep and feel fully functional in the morning. Infact, I seem to be getting more sleep than my husband, who attends to our 3 year old’s nighttime waking. By comparison, I was up and down like a yo-yo throughout the night for the first 9 months of my first child’s life (who was in a cot in the same room and I’d do nighttime feeds in a chair) so I can certainly attest that bed-sharing and horizontal feeding certainly makes for a more pleasant overall experience … and far less crying! The question down the track is, at what point, to transition from my bed to baby’s cot. Hopefully we’ll work that out without too much drama.

  2. Nicola Furst July 10, 2015 at 2:42 am

    Fantastic!!!! And very reassuring as I have been doing this from birth even in the hospital for 5 days with a caesar and since then at home-the bassinet pulled up next to bed is not where my 3 week old wants to be and so he snuggles with me and sleeps in-between feeds all night and is most content and happy!!!

  3. Yulia August 11, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I totally agree! This is also what we have been doing with our first born who is now 5 months old. He is a smiley happy baby who rarely cries. Thank goodness we read about human evolution before our son came along so what we’re doing makes sense. Let’s celebrate the happy stories!

  4. Julia October 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks for this post – our experience is exactly the same, except that we figured out feeding lying down when my son just a few weeks old. I have never experienced the “sleep deprivation” that so many seem to expect and take for granted when becoming parents. People also stare at me in disbelief when I say that my son has only ever slept through the night once (and he’ll soon be three years old), and yet I am fine with the sleep I’m getting.

    Johanna – your comment made me smile. Don’t worry too much about the transition; perhaps you don’t have to transition to a baby’s cot at all? My son has never slept in a cot. First, he was in a toddler bed right next to (attached to) our double bed (with the one side facing our bed being open, so no access barrier), and he still comes to join us and then sleeps in there occasionally. When he was about a year old (can’t quite remember when exactly), however, we moved him into the other bedroom, where he sleeps on a low-level futon (which is double bed sized). We mainly did this because in the toddler bed in our room he would invariably wake up when we went to bed ourselves, so we thought perhaps in a different room he’d be less disturbed by us and sleep a bit longer before waking up. Now when he wakes up in the night, he usually calls for me and I then join him in his bed, and until recently (a few weeks ago), I have always breastfed him back to sleep. We’ve only just started night weaning, and it’s going quite well – now that he’s older and we can talk about things and he understands a lot more, he seems much more “ready” for it than he would have been at one or even two years old. He’s already waking a lot less often than he used to, and most of the time will accept something other than milk to settle him down again (usually his favourite lullaby).

    I have mostly enjoyed our night times together; sure, it’s not always fun, especially when he wakes very often, but I am sure that I won’t ever look back on those years of closeness and think “I wish I had spent less time with him.” I say if it works for you, go for it. 🙂

    • Georgy October 13, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks for your comment Julia and thank you for sharing your experience too!

    • Dawn October 18, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Hi Julia,
      Would you be willing to provide more details about your night weaning process? My son is 2.5 and highly sensitive, and I’ve been wondering how to approach it so it doesn’t feel like a rejection.
      Thanks!

  5. Georgina October 7, 2015 at 4:07 am

    This is what I finally decided to do with my so at 5 months and we never looked back. We bed shared until he was about 26 months after weaning at 23 months. We only stopped as I was pregnant. He now sleeps all night in his own room and the transition was easy, I was probably worse than him! Wouldn’t have changed it for the world. My newborn is in my bed with me and I am well rested.

    • Georgy October 13, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Hi Georgina, thanks for your comment. It’s reassuring to hear from other mothers who are doing the same! Enjoy your newborn!

  6. Dawn October 18, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! Our experience has been similar for the past 2.5 years and we are still going strong. I’m always thankful to read about another mother on the same journey. I hope some day this journey will not be so taboo. So, thanks for posting publicly to help normalize it 🙂

    • Georgy October 19, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Hi Dawn, thank you for your comment! 2.5 years? How wonderful! Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job.

  7. Kerry November 16, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Georgy, thanks for your blogs. it’s good to read of people with the same approach as ours (it’s strange that it sometimes seem so radical to just be going with the flow of your baby and giving them all the comfort and cuddles they ask for!)
    But bed sharing hasn’t worked out so easily for my wife – when lying down for breastfeeding she doesn’t find it comfortable to give the 2nd breast ie. the higher one from the bed surface, and
    finds it best to sit up and move bub across so she can turn and lay the other way – but this defeats the whole purpose of not needing to wake much to feed your bub.
    Do you have any tips to help make the feeds easier to do laying on just one side?

    • Georgy November 20, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Hi Kerry! I think a lot depends on your mattress. We have quite a firm mattress so I find just rolling onto my belly slightly makes it easy to offer her to top breast. However, when I stay at my parent’s place the mattress is quite soft and it’s a lot more difficult! Could she try and roll baby onto her other side and try lying down feeding that way? How old is baby? Perhaps as bub gets older it will get easier 🙂 Sorry I can’t be more helpful but I’m glad you enjoyed reading 🙂

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