The unhindered flow of breast milk is ideal. And it turns out your baby is hard-wired to thrive in a bedsharing sleeping arrangement that includes on-demand breastfeeding and sleeping.
Recently, researchers at the University of Norte Dame announced that,
There is no such thing as infant sleep, there is no such thing as breastfeeding, there is only breastsleeping.
You heard that right, folks! Breast. Sleeping.
The idea is this: The unhindered flow of breast milk is ideal. And your baby is hard-wired to thrive in a bedsharing sleeping arrangement that includes on-demand breastfeeding. This means no “modern” interruptions, such as:
- Separate sleep spaces
Authors explain that a newborn is only adapted to his mother’s body. For the past 6 million years, human beings have evolved while breastfeeding and sleeping together – whereas a mere 1000 years ago, the Catholic Church recommend that babies sleep in their own cradle.
In defense of breast-sleeping, the body has a network of deeply embedded triggers that depend on the breastfeeding relationship between a mama and her baby.
For example, from your baby’s first latch, you see a boost in milk production. Likewise, continuous contact between a mama and her baby support the development of baby’s immune + digestive + respiratory systems. And baby brain development is enhanced by:
- Breast milk, which contains nutrients that the nervous system depends on
- The sensations and signals shared between a mama and her baby while breastfeeding
It turns out that bedsharing (also known as co-sleeping) can double or even triple the number of feeds during the night. Which helps to protect against SIDS, or sudden infant deaths syndrome. And even though most parents try to keep their babies in the crib during the first 3 months, a majority of breastfeeding mothers end up co-sleeping. Anthropologists at Norte Dame explain that bedsharing along with breastfeeding work best as one integrated system.
But what about your own sleep? What about your sanity?
It’s certainly true that fragmented sleep can affect your mood, your marriage, and even make you feel a little cranky towards your family. All normal! However, it also looks like parents’ attitude or acceptance of co-sleeping might be a big predictor of how happy they feel with sleeping arrangements.
While your baby may be evolutionarily wired to thrive with an unlimited supply of breast milk and all the sensory input that co-sleeping provides, for many parents it’s not doable. And that’s okay.
My dear friend Mandy over at Momma Society recently shared how she changed her son’s sleep routine. If you’re looking for ways to transition your baby into the crib, you’ll find quite a few tips.
And if you’d like to read more about breastfeeding and sleeping, you can download the complete PDF here.
Are you a breast-sleeper? Let me know in the comments!