Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bed-sharing Shame

Very often I hear or read parents saying that they finally broke down after hours of the baby fussing or crying and just let them sleep in bed. "I caved" or "I know I'm a bad mom but I just wanted to snuggle". These phrases frustrate me, make me angry, and break my heart. Moms seem to carry a burden of guilt over sleeping in bed with their babies. What to me, is one of the most rewarding choices and cherished times with my baby, is shameful to many mamas.

I believe that this shame is due to two elements:
1)Ignorance of facts regarding bedsharing
and 2) cultural bias in favor of independent sleep.

We, as a general rule, don't bedshare in America. When I tell people that we have a family bed, they try hard to hide the judgemental look but I see it. I know that most people think our family is weird. But I am convinced of the benefits of bedsharing so I don't really care what they think. I love bed-sharing.

The cultural expectation is that you would place your newborn in a bassinet until they are about 3 months of age and then once they are sleeping through the night, they will be transferred to an infant crib in their own room. While I am glad to have a nursery just for Amelia, and all her junk, she has never slept a night alone.

For us, the biggest benefit is that she sleeps longer, better, and spends less time awake for feedings. We aren't strung out and sleep deprived like people expect of new parents. I get plenty of sleep. This works because we are breastfeeding (also not a strong cultural norm) and so feedings are simplified by being in bed together already. I don't need to get up,prepare a bottle, walk to her room, give the bottle, burp her, rock her back to sleep, then climb into bed an hour or more later. I just roll over and lift my shirt. Easy. I also not concerned about making her sleep through the night since she currently has 2 night feedings and they aren't intrusive or disruptive. I find that I'm less stressed about her sleeping habits than my solo-sleeping counterparts.

To be quite honest, like most of my parenting choices, I stood on the opposite side before I became pregnant. Through research, I've found that the facts supported bedsharing. Unfortunately, the AAP and many government health departments are ignorant of these facts. The official recommendation from the AAP (which good moms take as the gospel truth and equate to parenting law) is to room-share but not bed-share for a full year.
Bedsharing has been under attack by several ads released as a part of Milwaukee's Safe Sleep campaign. The picture to the left is one such ad. Bellies and Babies Blog has a level-headed response to the ludicrous ads distributed by Milwaukee's Dept. of Health. 

The implication is that babies can't be safe in an adult bed. This is untrue. Not only is this ad provocative, it is highly inaccurate. The truth is that unsafe sleep environments can exist in cribs, pack-n-plays, swings, carseats, bassinets, beds, sofas, and just about any other place you put a baby. The important information that should be distributed instead of these images, is how to safely bed-share if that is the sleeping arrangement you choose. Also the benefits of each sleeping environment according to research rather than anecdotal evidence. Saying "I knew a girl who slept in bed with her parents till she was seven" doesn't help anyone make an informed decision on whether it is a good fit for their family. This personal decision should be made with a full understanding of the facts and not just the culturally biased opinion of the public, or in this case, public officials. 

In this news report, mention is made of a similar ad to the ones from the blog above. This (now Emmy winning) reporter does a fine job of fairly representing the facts and I especially appreciate his distinction between SIDS deaths and sleep-environment-related deaths. 

My final point is this:
Parents should make informed choices about their parenting. With a fully educated decision, there is no shame. I stand by the choices I make for our family and don't feel the need to make apologies to anyone for them. I don't feel ashamed that I'm doing what I feel is best in consideration of all expert opinion, relevant details, and current research studies. It is my wish that more parents get the information they need to parent without shame.
That is all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mama Birth: "They Let Me..."

Mama Birth: "They Let Me...": Let's talk about words. We have talked about the word "deliver" in relation to men delivering babies, and paternalism as it relates to...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another game of Ketchup

Its been a long time since the last post, but having a baby makes you very, very busy.

As for Amelia, she is busy growing and learning so much. At her recent 2 month wellbaby visit she was 11 lbs 8 oz and 24 inches. She's still 75% for weight and 90% for length. She is tall and always has been. :)
She is smiling now and she grins a lot. We have three giggles on the record so far and are looking forward to more laughter in our lives. Milestones are being reached left and right like "finding" her hands and increases in head control and tracking movement with her eyes.

However, she hasn't rolled over and I have mixed feelings about that. I want her to be smart and advanced BUT I also want her to be stationary as long as possible. Once she gets going and is mobile, I won't be able to get half as much done since my time will be spent chasing her around. So the way I see it, her not rolling is just her being my itty bitty baby a little bit longer.

We finally picked up our order of cloth diapers from Ecological Babies and Amelia has enjoyed one full day in cloth. So far I am really seeing that cloth is not harder than disposables and I hope to save some money on diapers. I'm very excited to be able to eliminate some chemical contact since so much of what we eat and use these days has an overload of chemicals. Plus cloth is just plain cute! I'll have to post pictures of her with a "fluffy butt" sometime soon.

I'm basically back to normal; of course there is still that baby weight but patience with my body is a good thing. In other news, I've been offered a position within my current job that would give me a more flexible schedule but requires two one-week training sessions in Tennessee. The jury is still out on whether or not I'll be taking this opportunity.

I did take full advantage of the opportunity to train with a Melissa of Captial City Doula Services to begin my certification process through DONA International. (The video I posted about pain is by Penny Simkin who is one of the founders of DONA) This is a new venture and thankfully I have the complete support of my husband; without his backing, I would be to afraid to try. My goal is to complete my training within the next year. (Think "graduating class" of 2012 ) There are lots of books to read, papers to write, and births to attend, but I think it is manageable. With my hiatus from Flagler College being so long and my return yet undetermined, this really is the best time in my life to begin a new pursuit of training in this field.

I was going to post videos of all the amazing things Amelia has been doing to show how much she had grown in the last 2 months, but alas, our computer was stolen from our apartment and thus I no longer have those videos to show. So instead I will close this post with a  short video I took during the training workshop of Miss Amelia during tummy time. She's so strong!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Musings of a mother woken in the wee hours...

I wrote this in the days following her first immunizations when she was fussier than normal:

It is times like these that I must remind myself of all the things I love about my dear baby. When she wakes me from my needed night's rest to spit up all over me then nurse for 5 minutes at a time and stay awake for hours when I know she's really just as tired as I am. So she lays swaddled and drowsy and I'm hoping she will nod off again soon. Until then, I must remind myself of all the reasons I'm in love with her. So here goes...

I love when Amelia...

  1. ...smiles in the morning and reminds me of all the newness and possibilities of a day not yet begun.
  2. ...smiles in her sleep. It makes me wonder what she dreams of and I pray those dreams come true since they make her so happy.
  3. ...smiles while nursing. She is so happy to be full of milk and snuggled close. 
  4. ...smiles anytime. I basically live for that gummy grin.
  5. ...looks up at me with this coy/shy smirk. I predict this will one day be the look I get when she's begging to stay out past curfew. 
  6. ...pouts. I know I should be sad when she is sad but who can help but smile at her adorable pout?!
  7. fussy and nursing is the only thing that soothes her, her eyes roll back and relief washes over her face. 
  8. all tuckered out from a cranky fit  and falls asleep on my chest.
  9. ...squeals with delight. It may get old on a road trip someday.
  10. ...giggles. Its a rare occurance but what a glorious sound to behold!
So in summary I have two words: Worth It.