Anatomy of a co-sleeper

There are many wonderful things about co-sleeping:

  • breastfeeding lying down (I am lazy)
  • sleeping whilst feeding (ditto)
  • not having to get out of bed to feed/settle the baby (and again)
  • cuddling a baby all night long (and Eli is my very last baby so I will really miss this when this stage is over

Whilst not having to get out of bed or really even wake up when the baby needs feeding in the night are my absolute favourite things about co-sleeping, finding out exactly how Eli has decided to orientate himself each night is entertaining too. Accordingly I have been taking photos (blurry as it’s hard to get enough light to take a photo without waking the baby!).

The spread eagle: now, considering that I feed Eli to sleep and generally leave him on his side, in a position that would mean I could lie next to him when I decide to go to bed, he is remarkably good at stealing my side of the bed. We do have a super king size bed (definitely a co-sleeping necessity for me!) but I like my pillow and don’t want to have to sleep in the awkward middle space…

Then there’s back-to-front: generally given away by moaning and rustling over the baby monitor, I’m guessing this is what happens when he goes looking for me when he stirs, rotates himself, gives up and goes to sleep.

Normally these positions only affect my ability to get into bed without disturbing Eli and if I don’t have to move him my own ability to get under the covers comfortably. When perpendicular comes into play, R gets to join in too.

I mean, so what if your parents believe that they should have most of the bed (especially after buying the biggest one they could after years of co-sleeping on a double), clearly the bed is for the baby. The cot on the side is, however, clearly not. That has surely been placed there simply to allow for clothes storage and for the rare occasion when you might otherwise fall out of the bed. If you do end up accidentally sleeping in it you should protest loudly until you are removed to the proper bed.

So, how long did you breastfeed the others for?

Through our baby group I’ve made friends with a great group of mums all of whom are first-timers. To begin with, and surprising to me considering the breastfeeding rates in my local area, the majority were breastfeeders. This has changed slightly over time and I think we have a 50/50 split now as people have weaned onto formula for a variety of reasons. As our babies get older, the first two soon to hit the 1 year mark, there’s more talk of weaning and the question has been asked, ‘So how long did you breastfeed the others for?’.

The person who’s asked is handily the one who is most able to understand that everybody does what is right for them and my choice does not mean I expect you to do the same. I’m not ashamed that I fed the other two until they were a few months past their third birthdays but I know how strongly people can react to the idea of feeding a young toddler let alone a walking! talking! able to ask for it! pre-schooler. I’ve heard one person voice the idea that ‘it’s wrong when they’re bigger’ and it makes me sad and frustrated that it’s this attitude that can make extended breastfeeders hide away feeling that they are doing something strange and that they aren’t supported.

I hope that my answers to this question or its companion – ‘so how long are you going to breastfeed Eli for’ given truthfully puts a normal face to longer-term breastfeeding rather than the ‘look at the strange weirdos’ image the media likes to put across. I also hope that it shows that you don’t ‘have to’ wean at 6 months/1 year or which ever arbitrary milestone is reached whether or not mum and baby want to continue. Of course mostly I’ll be carrying on doing what works best for my family and me and happily supporting my friends in what works for them.