Being a sleep consultant has somehow earned me the reputation that I do not support co-sleeping, or that my baby sleeps alone in his room from birth. There’s a misconception that my babies won’t be up most of the night or need to be fed on demand. Nothing could be further from the truth! Having a newborn baby means broken or little sleep, no matter who you are. That is normal and to be expected.
But here’s the thing… I co-slept with both my children! Co-sleeping with my newborns helped me feel bonded, it made struggling with breastfeeding more manageable, and it made the recovery process a little less stressful.The first time around, I was trying so hard to figure out how to be a new mum to my daughter, Hadley, that sleep habits never really crossed my mind. That turned out to be a huge mistake, but it eventually lead me to the path of becoming a sleep consultant and maternity nurse. You can read more about that over on my Meet Ashley page.
By the time my son arrived, I was prepared. I understood his sleep/awake patterns and I was educated on what to expect from a newborn – totally erratic sleep and behaviours! I also knew how to set him up for long-term success with feeding and sleep. That’s right, both.
In the early days, I was up at least every two hours. Sometimes my son would just wake up at 4:00 a.m. for two hours and be impossible to get back to sleep until 6:00 a.m. That’s when he would crash into a heavy sleep, now leaving me with an awake and energetic toddler… Ha! But as the weeks went on, the stretches of sleep got longer, the morning restlessness stopped, and we began cohabiting instead of co-sleeping.
Honestly, this transition came about because I couldn’t sleep when he was sleeping. I was riddled with anxiety over harming him by mistake. No matter what precautions I took, I couldn’t switch that button off. And I missed my husband! I missed falling asleep in his arms without fear of harming our baby. It came to a point where cohabiting was the best option for our family.
With the help of a sleep consultant, I was able to understand my son’s needs, I fed on demand, and he would go to sleep peacefully. There was no stress to it and it was a beautiful routine. It made me feel good and confident. I was able to cherish my time with him, instead of it being stressful and full of anxiety like it was with my daughter.
During the day, we had cuddle naps, co-sleeping naps in my bed, or he would sleep in his bassinet, if I needed the free hands to wrangle my toddler. I fed my son during the night until he was one-year-old, by choice. When he was ready to stop, we dropped the feed, We all felt ready and it wasn’t forced upon any of us.
So you see, there is flexibility. It’s not all about routines, sleeping alone, no cuddles, scheduled feeds, and crying babies. It makes me sad to think that because I chose this profession and I advocate for quality sleep, that I am somehow an enemy to those who choose different paths or don’t understand the options available to them. Ultimately, I want happy families, parents who feel confident, and relationships that thrive. There is no right or wrong; knowledge is power.
The next time you feel like you might need a little help with sleep, do not talk yourself out of it for fear of what this means for you and your baby. Call me! Share your fears and I will share your options and let you know what can and can’t be done. I can meet the needs of your family, while taking into account your parental philosophy and values.
Not all sleep consultants are created equal. Put down the books, close Google, and chat to a person. No sales! Just mom to mom chat.