I don't know why I'm amazed at the response I've gotten when writing about the family bed. It seems like every person I ask has a different and strong opinion about this. That is, except our pediatrician. When I asked her about it at our first appointment, she brushed me off by saying indifferently, "Some people choose to sleep with their babies." Not, "It's a terrible idea. Don't do it." Or, "Of course, it's the best thing you can do for your baby." Thankfully a couple of women in the healthcare field agreed with my decision.
The night O was born I asked the postpartum nurse if it was okay that I had O on the bed and was sleeping with him. She gave me the official hospital answer of "no". However, she said that it was okay with her.
The other healthcare women who approved of my decision to sleep with O was my midwife. At one of my check-ups I told her that I was nervous about having O sleep in our bed because I'd been discouraged by friends and family. She said nonchalantly, "Oh. We always had our babies sleep in our bed." Wow. If my doctor was doing it, then I felt okay.
I also did some research to help me decide whether having O in our bed was medically a good decision. My mom, while trying to be helpful, told me that she had read or heard that co-sleeping caused an increase in SIDS. I consulted two authorities I respect to find evidence of the contrary. One of the articles I sent to my mom is from La Leche League. Another article I sent her is from Dr. Sears, a medical and parenting expert. Another source that I found mildly helpful was this book--"Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping" by James McKenna. I mention it because it draws out the same information found in the other articles. I would recommend checking it out from the library, not buying it for your home collection.
Again, to reaffirm how strong some people's feelings are about the topic of bed-sharing...I had an acquaintance tell me a story of her husband's coworker's daughter, I believe, who rolled over on her baby. Yes, this is tragic, but I don't know the circumstances. I would guess that neither does she. Instead, this story made me frightful. Even though I believe I am careful with having O sleep in the bed, I cannot help but be scared by stories like this. Logically, I can puzzle it out--"Had she consumed alcohol? Was she obese? Was she on a couch?" The above-linked site from Dr. Sears explains how to safely co-sleep.
My point is, many people, although well-intentioned, have tried to persuade me to not sleep with my baby, using what I consider scare-tactics. It's been difficult for me to look past these comments because they come from highly intelligent, terrific mothers. Having the baby sleep in the crib worked for them, I suppose they think I should do it too. Please remember, they also believed having babies sleep on their stomachs was best too, but we now know that that, actually, increases the risk of SIDS. Oh, will I remember to be so open when/if my son has children?
Here is an article on the benefits of co-sleeping. Yes, there are benefits!