I remember a little of what it was like when I had just given birth to my first child: I was exhausted, all day and all night. I distinctly recall attempting to sit up at night in a chair to nurse my baby, and almost dropping her--I was so tired I almost fell asleep in the chair while holding her. In those days (ancient times), it was verboten to sleep with your baby. Unheard of. Even nursing was not fully accepted culturally, and my own mother-in-law was dismayed by my insistence on it.
Even though I tried to do what was accepted and considered the norm at the time, I just could not sit up in a chair at night, so I began nursing my baby lying down, in bed. My D. H. would stagger up to get her out of the crib when she awoke, and bring her to me in bed, where she snuggled up to me and we both dosed off, she nursing happily.
I have been reading lately about how that is considered dangerous. Two weeks ago there was an NPR report about co-sleeping, with a frightening ad campaign pushed by Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker, which shows a baby sleeping in an adult bed, next to a meat cleaver.
Co-sleeping, or at least, baby sleeping in the same room as the mother, can promote successful breast-feeding and good sleep patterns in baby, and a closeness and warmth between baby and mother. Skin-to-skin touching is so important to baby's sense of security and attachment development. On the other hand, what does it do to preparing the baby to sleep in his or her own bed later on, if he's used to sleeping with parents from infancy? And is it true that the infant mortality rate is higher for co-sleeping babies? I know I personally do not regret the time I slept with my babies nearby in a bassinet when they were tiny, or when I took them into my bed to nurse them at night. It promoted a closeness and bonding that is not as achievable if baby sleeps by himself in a crib (which doesn't seem quite natural to me, anyway).
There are pros and cons to sleeping with your baby, and I would love some feedback on this from experienced mothers and breastfeeding experts. There seem to be pros and cons to this idea, although some form of co-sleeping has been done by mothers and babies for millenia. So, what do you think?