How I Parent & Nurse at Night

8 Comments 25 July 2010

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This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about nighttime parenting and nursing. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 


Nighttime Parenting and Nursing: What does this look like for you?

To describe my style of night time parenting and nursing, I must first tell you a little story.

I was around sixteen when my uncle and his wife came to visit from Indianapolis, (about 5 hours away) with their first child.

To my surprise, my aunt openly breastfed him in front of the family. This was my first incident with someone so confidently nursing. Although I at first felt shy, I admired her calm attitude; how she looked directly into my eyes when we spoke while she was nursing. I realized that there was nothing for her to apologize for.

My uncle, aunt and newborn slept in the same bed. I was made aware of their bed-sharing philosophy by the phone conversations I overheard between my mother and her sister or my grandmother. The tone seemed worried and looking back, I get the sense they felt it wasn’t a safe choice. Having never heard of sleeping in the same bed with your children, (I imagined a classic nursery and crib scenario) I was intrigued.

These experiences in my late teens meant little to me at the time.

Acknowledged in passing as I carried on with my self-absorbed adolescent life. But since becoming a mother, memories like this have snuck up on me, engaging conversations and research.

Which brings me to about a year and a half ago when my daughter was born.

In preparation for her joining us in the flesh, we bought and were given necessities – car seat, soaps and lotions, a stroller, etc. I asked my mom for one gift, a co-sleeper, which she purchased and I assembled the week before Ella’s birth.

The co-sleeper seemed like a very happy medium between a crib and sleeping in the same bed. Although I liked the idea of our daughter sleeping with us, it made some family members nervous. Having her sleep within arms reach was a great compromise, since my most powerful argument as to why I would want Ella to sleep with us is so she wouldn’t be too far away.

You should have seen our little set up!

On the night of her birth-day we, (my mom spent the first night with us) entered the low-lit bedroom with brand new sheets and the beautiful co-sleeper fixed up with a handmade blanket from Grandma. I nursed Ella down to sleep and placed her cozy swaddled body in her bed.

As exhausting as the past 72 hours had been, I couldn’t sleep. I just laid there staring at her. Watching her every breath, twitch, eye flutter and rustlings. I was intensely in-love already. Pretty powerful.

Then she woke up.

I excitedly picked her up, brought her to my breast, and before I knew it, I was drifting off with her in my bed next to me.

So began our bed-sharing.

From that night on, no matter how many times I told myself I would leave her in the co-sleeper throughout the night, I couldn’t! I wanted her near me. I wanted to smell her, cuddle with her…

Our night time nursing has always worked out well  (due to bed-sharing).

It’s been pretty great. Sure, there
have been restless nights, but I quickly noticed in Ella’s early months, she slept better when I was in bed with her. She seemed more relaxed.

The ability to sleep with Ella has made night time nursing a breeze. I sleep without a shirt on, so her meal is right there when she needs it! Neither of us wake up to the point of really being up, so we’re able to fall back to sleep pretty quickly. And since I have always been one to sleep when my baby sleeps, I’ve never gotten to the point of exhaustion. I consider myself tremendously blessed.

On a side note about bed-sharing, I miss Eric! He’s been sleeping in a separate bed for about four months now. There is just not enough room in our twin for the three of us. We going to need a new bed very soon!


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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Kateisfun says:

    I love it when “lessons from the past” make sense in the present. Great post. And, I hear you on the bed size! We still squeeze together, but as soon as we move back to the States we’ll be investing in something bigger than our double.

  2. Jenna says:

    Beautiful post.

    I had planned on using a crib. Then when my little guy first came home (5 weeks old) I couldn’t stand being that far away so we got a cradle for the bedroom. I did some cosleeping. We had heard some scare tactics and were terrified of the rolling thing. Unfortunately, he was very sick for much of his infancy, on oxygen, and tube feeds and IV lines so we ended up needing to keep him in his pack and play.

    Anyways, although I never had the idealistic breastfeeding, cuddling thing work out, when he was one (and finally better) we made up for lost time and brought him into our bed, then in his crib mattress on the floor next to me. He got his own big boy bed when he turned 2 and he’s almost three now and still we’re cuddly sleepers. I snuggle with him for 10 minutes going to bed and then every single night around 2 am, he gets up and sleepwalks into our room. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  3. Casey says:

    Get a king sized bed! It is well worth it. We have both our girls in bed with us and it’s great. There were a few nights early after my 2nd daughters birth where we slept in a different bed, but other than that we are all together all the time. :-) I think it really helped my oldest still feel connected to us after her baby sister came, because she was still sleeping between mom and dad. I love co-sleeping and bed sharing!

  4. Miriam says:

    I am cosleeping with my daughter every night, and we both love it. I cherish the time with her, especially since she may be my last baby. Do we worry about when it’s time to transition out of mommy’s bed, though? At some point my partner and I will be ready for that. Any thoughts?


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