#226 | The Case for Co-Sleeping with OnTrack Baby

August 16, 2023

Every mammal in nature sleeps with their offspring, but these days, many mothers are cautioned against co-sleeping by pediatricians and well-meaning friends and family. This guilt or fear keeps parents distant from their sleeping babies even when it goes against their own inclination. Then, the cycle continues with a baby whose nervous system wakes them often in search of physical comfort, while parents frantically seek the latest and greatest sleep product on the market (Snoo, anyone?).

What is the right approach for mothers who feels conflicted? Today we've brought back Jenny and Carrie, the occupational therapist sisters of OnTrack Baby (@ontrackbaby on Instagram), to discuss sleep and how it relates to newborn development.

Our discussion starts by debunking the myth that sleep is a problem for babies. The real issue, according to OnTrack Baby, is parents' general lack of understanding of a baby's needs. They stress there is nothing wrong with a baby who struggles with sleep because their nervous systems have them wired to awaken easily, and that many of today's sleep products are unnecessary, if not counterproductive toward long-term development. Their professional opinion is what many parents believe instinctually: that babies who sleep with or in close proximity to their parents are actually calmer, safer and better able to sleep.

Jenny and Carrie don't prescribe any particular sleep method even to their own clients, nor do they insist co-sleeping is the only way for every family. They are, however, proponents of sleeping in close proximity however best serves the family, as a means of creating a nurturing and supportive environment that promotes healthy sleep patterns and overall well-being for both themselves and their children.

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View Episode Transcript

Parents begin to think that sleep is a problem. And it's never, it's never a problem. It's just that we don't understand where our babies are at. We're wanting them to meet us in our environment, but we got to go to them.

You need to know that your baby is just reacting in a normal nervous system and it's your choice to fight it that's causing you to be exhausted, there's nothing wrong with your baby, there's no product that's going to solve the problem, you really have to decide, right? Am I going to seriously take a left turn off track away from how nature does it?

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

I'm Carrie, and I'm Jenny.

And we are the moms and OTs from on track, baby. And we are here today to talk
everything about baby development, baby sleep and new mom life that plays into your whole experience with your child. So we're excited to be back. Yes, we are down to earth show for the second time. Totally

Welcome back. You guys. We had a very popular first episode with you. Cynthia, do you remember the number? Come on?

I don't. I recently saw it too. So this pressure is just terrible. As soon as I see this number, I'm gonna be like, yes, that was it. I'll look it up.

Okay, anyway, proud to hear that. Because really, the whole thing about baby development begins at birth and your pregnant pregnancy experience and your mental preparation, which is why, you know, it's not enough it It fills my heart with joy. And I know it's part of our mission, that people get educated not just about baby development, but also birth and what how that is impactful for yourself as a mother and as a baby. So we love to hear this connection that people are listening and getting the information ahead of the baby coming with, you know, the down to birth show and then following it through to continuing the journey, which is really what motherhood is, it's like you think you're just gonna bring your baby and like, you know, shuffle them into your adult life. But it's like, truly the most transformative thing you'll ever do.

You guys said something so important in that first episode we did with you that I tell to every new breastfeeding mother that I am working with when they're all very concerned about their infant development and tummy time and that now we say what you said just everywhere you go, you bring that small little blanket and you put it on the floor and you don't need anything else and your baby goes on their tummy. And that's it. They're either on you, or they're on that blanket, and no development happens on the back.

Yeah, well, it was episode 152 that we had you. And I agree with what you're saying, Jenny, because once, even when even when we started this podcast, there is so there's such a world of informed pregnancy and informed birth out there. But what I failed to see, even as recently as a few years ago, was that once you're informed, I mean, it's true as a parent, but you don't realize these industries are out there. Once you aren't informed parents in mothering and birth. It takes you into the early parenting. Here's your net. For some reason, we assume well, now I'm like every other parents and I'm going to do things like everyone else. But once you're on this path of like really uncut debunking myths and learning what's best for babies. It's like you're suddenly doing everything different from the mainstream. And that's where I think you to come in from birth, including birth into those early parenting years, which is why I think your your work is so valuable because a lot of people don't realize that there is still so much for advice, taking us into those early years that isn't serving parents and children very well.

And one of the most one of the most important pieces of poor advice that mothers are constantly being bombarded with is that their babies should be sleeping separately from them or that it's not safe for their babies to sleep with them. And we really want to talk about your guys's opinion, experience, knowledge whatever you want to say about mothers and babies sleeping together.

It it's the yeah and avid site was definitely been a journey because we didn't just start out being like okay, let's bring our babies and our beds.

We were as mainstream as it gets. We probably even a level beyond because we're in allopathic care as occupational therapists, we had the in depth look at how we're supposed to be instructing parents even before we were parents, right. And that message that comes from just don't do this, don't do that you're gonna cause these types of things to happen like, and that what is what unraveled for us trying to do the mainstream message that brought us full circle around to you know, what we do now family bed?

Well, let's stop. And have you talked about your credentials. Before we go any further, you made that reference to having an allopathic educational background. So let's tell everyone exactly what your credentials are and what you do.

Well, we are both we're both occupational therapists. And we have our own private practice, actually, currently, right now, where we, where we serve children, zero to five, and we offer PT, speech and OT. And then we've also been doing online education for the OT community. And we are pretty much specialized in PT, right, pediatrics, so and even beyond that, like we wrote developmental care for our local hospital for their NICU. And that really, it's been the levels of learning that we've done that brings this different awareness to what is happening with mainstream advice that's taking people off track. But as far as credentials, go, the therapy side of things has been a really unique thing for parents to understand. The way we view this lens of your baby developing and the birth that you have is because we see the we treat the aftermath, right in our clinic. So we have tons of babies, all experiencing birth trauma, all having had significantly stressed births, ending up with sensory processing disorders, which looks like a hyperactive kid, or really sensitive, sensitive kid that's just like going nuts about just normal things in their environment, like what they're wearing, what they're eating. And they're just, they're considered like, they're not understood by society today, because they're called, like orchids. Um, if you've heard this term before, they're called the orchids of the of humanity were 5% of the population, which actually the number is radically growing, but they say about 5% of the population identifies with being hypersensitive. So that means higher levels of anxiety, higher issues with social interactions, and picky eating. And so this 5% is a marginalized group that we're trying to just say, Oh, you just have a high strung nervous system. But what we're seeing is it has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with how you came into the world, and then what you experienced as a newborn, because that's the whole time period that the nervous system is developing. So you'll kind of see it in different circles. So psychologists and things will call you like an orchid or you're just a sensitive person, but you're really not, you're just not properly developed, actually, is.

I want to jump in here because I hear what you're saying. And it's making me think of all the other things that have been growing dramatically in the past 30 to 40 years that were just chalking off to genetics. Yeah, it's like, listen, genetics aren't epidemics, things don't happen like this, because of genetics. If there's suddenly a surge of some quality happening in the human race, can we please spend a little time trying to figure out if something is actually causing this and not just this? It's like a scapegoat? Well, you're born with it, nothing to be done.

So with my PC to like, well, there's the, the excessive normalization of all of it. And rather than trying to get to the root cause of it, yeah, there's a, I think, like, you're neurodivergent or you're just you're spectrum that you're, you're just, you're supposed to embrace it, as opposed to understand it, right. And perhaps remedy age, which is a whole nother level if it actually comes down to your reflexes that these babies are doing when they're just free moving on the floor. So if your reflexes which is just a whole nother level that your pediatrician doesn't get in depth training on if your reflexes get held on to by your nervous system like your Morrow, which we're coming back around to this with baby sleep. But the Moro reflex, the startle is what causes anxiety, even in adults if it wasn't properly faded away in infancy. And so it's an internalized reaction and your nervous system. So even as a listener, if you hear this and you think, Oh, I've always been sensitive to X, Y, and Z, that actually can be addressed through infant movement patterns as an adult, right, which is just another mind blowing. You're gonna have to explain that a little bit more before we get deep in conversation.

Do we have to go back and tell our mothers they need to hold us more again, or some phrase lie on the floor a little bit? What is it?

Oh, do I adults work on their infant reflex to actually go do the movement patterns like the fencer a TNR. Like when the arm bends and the little baby looks to the side and the arm goes out is one that parents recognize a lot. The Start? Yes, there's an entire therapy rate rehab ish. Yeah. programs dedicated to putting an older children and adult back through primitive infant patterns, because it rebuilds the brain in the proper sequence. And it's why so many adults are using weighted blankets. Yes, yes.

Yes. That's the exact connection. Wow, there you go. Yes. Which goes back to the credentials question is that we treat this early on. And so we already have tons of patient files C, Section C, Section C, Section C section of this abnormal start to sensation when the baby's just pulled out, right, with no awareness of what's coming next, which sends them into fight or flight. And then if the mother is not in tune with the baby and doesn't understand these basic principles of bonding and nurturing and skin to skin and oxytocin, and then you get this lack of attunement between the baby and the mother. And then she's relying on pacifiers and swallow into swings and swaddles trying to get this baby to settle, but the baby's just in fight or flight because it was born abnormally, or experienced trauma at birth. And she doesn't know how to address that with just gentle nurturing parenting, because mainstream parenting is telling her, put your baby, but just by this just putting your baby there, or, you know, ignore your baby a little bit. And then your baby will learn not to cry, you know, it's just what Jenny's explaining my exact first time experience. I mean, I was a planned C section and I had everything and did everything mainstream, my daughter does have high sensitivity, I was swaddled her for a long time. And so the unique lens of just a spreading awareness of this is that you can get ahead of it. And you can always go back and help your child you know, it's not like, oh, my gosh, you know, I've ruined everything I didn't know, mothers just don't know, you know, and that's why we are so passionate about birth, and just the nurturing aspect in those first three months, because it will drive everything for the rest of the year, as far as how your whole adult life are achieved has nothing to do with your cognitive memory. And everything to do with the hierarchy of the brain like this is just the most this is when all those memories are set on a somatic level, like how the body feels about the new environment. And then the brain just develops on top of that foundation with gaps in it. And then it's like you become an adult that's a highly sensitive and orchid that needs therapy that needs a weighted blanket that can't interact or has trouble with eye contact. It's just the ort and really even learning all learning disabilities, as they call them go back to infant movement patterns that haven't faded away properly. So even in our older children like Dyslexics and children who have handwriting and coordination issues, all of it, the struggle comes down to how much did you move as a baby? What kind of birth did you have? Yeah, and so this conversation is very important. And it's very deep as anyone listening to No, that's exactly what we discussed in Episode 150. And your work is around, you're here you are on the side of fixing things, resolving things, and a lot of your work is on resolving these but also preventing, so you work a lot with expectant parents. And then we're gonna get into today a conversation on co sleeping.

So really, so really what it's all about is ensuring that the primitive reflexes are sort of released at the appropriate time in development. And is, am I correct in assuming that mothers and babies sleeping together? Or co sleeping or bed sharing or whatever we want to call it define it is one method in which you could help? Yes, through this connection to baby sleep with natural development, is that what you will start off track doing as a mainstream mother who hasn't had the information in the education about babies is trying to get your baby to sleep separate from you, which is biologically abnormal. And we never see that in the mammal Kingdom where every mammal mother sleeps with her baby without question. Even it's never it's just not an option like even even in captivity, mammals and babies born are put together and they're not pulled apart. And then what we know happens is that when you separate from your baby, on the most basic biological level, their brain begins to excrete cortisol the stress hormone, and they will only react normally trying to find you because it's nature at this point to find mother for survival. And so if you're a new mom and you're like, Okay, I've got all these different swaddles, my best friends say are the best, got my crib set up, I'm just gonna put my blue baby to sleep in this crib that the minute you lay them down, the reflexes fire, the hormones are excreting, and it's like, where's mom?

So yeah, so the latest and greatest baby product on the market is one that actually tries to recreate the mom and baby being together, right. So the snoo is like the, the, the, you know, Rolls Royce of the baby sleeping centers and tries to mimic like, the sound movements, the connection with mom, instead of just putting the baby with the mother, which is the most natural thing for any mother to want to do. But she's so afraid to do this. She feels guilty, she feels terrified. She feels like she's doing something wrong. Every time she falls asleep, even for five minutes with her baby on her. Right. I would agree that I just think, you know, modern mothers are just doing so much based in fear. And it's so hard to come out of that pattern, because you're just told, oh my gosh, if you fall asleep with your baby, if you're on the couch with your baby, and you fall asleep, you can't want to fall asleep. But a lounger I mean, just from the very moment they're born, all you have is just this fear around your baby and their sleep. When really it's the most biological thing they already know how to do. It's actually the mothers that need to understand how to respond to baby sleep in an appropriate way, where they feel confident. And where that happens is that they see all their friends on social media buying a snoo trying to keep their child asleep because the startle alone just keeps the baby and little newborn up constantly. And when you really don't understand the startle you think, Okay, what's wrong with the swaddle, it helps them sleep for hours at a time. And it's just so unnatural to actually be put one in something that binds you for hours. I mean, nobody even sleeps like that for one. So just on a very common sense level. If you just look at the swaddled look at your baby, if your baby fights at one time, that is enough for a new mother to validate her feelings of like I don't have to go back and put my baby through this, I don't have to struggle to put my baby in a swaddle, or go by a different one. Because this one doesn't work. It's more about understanding that your baby is supposed to wake up and nobody is supposed to go back to basically your old life of, hey, everybody gets to sleep as long as they did. I'm now a new mom, babies don't understand your schedule, you know what I mean? They're just startling, coming up hearing the door shut hearing the blow dryer go off. And so parents begin to think that sleep is a problem. And it's never, it's never a problem. It's just that we don't understand where our babies are. We're wanting them to meet us in our environment, but we got to go to them. They are the ones with the new brain. They're the ones experiencing all these sensations for the very first time and we have to figure out a way to support new moms to support their babies, instead of just going, hey, buy the latest and greatest thing to either keep them bound down shushed and quiet. Because actually, that just adds stress, like Jenny says, because the minute you feel like you're not supposed to respond to your baby, in the most natural way, you just get stressed out, your baby starts crying, they don't like the pacifier, they don't like the swaddle the snoo doesn't work. So, or scary if it does very well, or if it does, because what we're trying to say is the most natural thing for a baby is to sleep with the mother. That's how it's done in nature, right? So in our minds, as professionals, we start thinking, Well, what happens when we do something abnormal with a baby? If we know that nature, does it this way? Are we really superior to nature in coming up with our own version of what's more convenient for us? So really, it comes down to, you're actually fighting nature's design to separate your baby into a crib. And then you're understanding that it's just natural for your baby to startle awake to find you. So you're really making the choice to be exhausted as a mom, because you're you're getting up every single time multiple times a night, trying to do this mainstream idea of separating from your baby, instead of the diving deeper about what's natural, biological normal, that we've discovered along the way as humans developed across the span of history for you know, millennial years. You need to know that your baby is just reacting in a normal nervous system and it's your choice to fight it that's causing you to be exhausted. There's nothing wrong with your baby. There's no product that's going to solve the problem. You really have to decide, right? Am I going to seriously take a left turn off track away from how nature does it?

So what I'm hearing you say is parents today are told and by their elders, they're told don't sleep with your baby because That's dangerous. So we're gonna get into how it's not dangerous. And then because they're not sleeping with a baby, which is intervention, number one, they now have to rely on intervention number two and the intervention number two du jour is this new? Yeah. And now, if it works, we should be concerned. If it doesn't work, we think, Oh, no, it's not working. There's a problem there. But really, the baby is having a normal response and communicating with the parent, hey, this isn't working for me. So that's actually a good signal that we want to look for in the baby, I would guess. And really, what we're talking about is an intervention. We talk about them during birth all the time. The big question with intervention with interventions getting outside of when they're needed, when they're not, are they good? Are they bad? The big question is, what is the impact of this intervention? Because there always is one, always. So that's what I'm hearing you say? Can we start talking about rewinding looking at our anthropologic routes? Of course, all mammals have co slept, but we've been taught not to do humans in their early days didn't have beds. So that's complicated things. They didn't have sheets. That's complicated things. So we do have already some interventions from that perspective, does this bring us to what makes co sleeping safe as opposed to when it isn't safe?

Well, I think if you really want to look at what the science says, which is something that most people don't understand that there actually is great studies regarding bed sharing and co sleeping, they just think, you know, because the mainstream message is don't do it, that there's zero support for this other side of the argument the natural way about it. And Dr. Sears has some fantastic work that really breaks down the seven babies that his wife slept with and how the exchange of carbon dioxide through the breath actually stimulates the baby to take a breath. So you want to be within close proximity to the baby because the sheer breath between the mother and the baby continues to facilitate additional breaths. It's already proven it reduces SIDS are we talked about?

One of the theories, one of the theories around SIDS is that babies can have like a sleep apnea that they don't come out of. But what you're saying, and what I have also read is that moms and babies sleeping in close proximity, especially when they're breastfeeding, because they tend to wake and rouse more easily when they're breastfeeding, are more protected, they're more protective, because of exactly what you just said.

And then, you know, there's also all the skin to skin research, which has been proven for decades that just being in skin to skin contact, is going to regulate their temperature and their heartbeat and the horn Oh, that sounds pretty significant to me, you know, it's like, okay, if my breath keeps them breathing, and my heart keeps their heart going and my skin keeps them comfortable, you know, that all is the hierarchy of the nervous system. So but here's what I'll say, the statistics of babies lost to SIDS is so few compared to the vast majority of babies that to apply such a minority to the majority is causing more problems for people, and not truly understanding why is this happening in the first place? We're just taking such a marginalized part of the modern experience and saying, well, because this is happening to very few, we have to do it this way with everybody, which we know never really works, because that's not the case of the majority. And then the important thing to know about says is that SIDS is unexplained according to the medical diagnosis, where is when you're talking about bedsheets and beds as interventions, if your baby dies because they were wrapped up in a sheet that would be suffocation that would not be a SIDS death, right? So the that you have to understand that separation. What they're saying SIDS is, is totally 100%, unexplained and identifiable. They don't know what caused the death, there wasn't a suffocation or crushed death. That would be you know, labeled something different.

And those numbers that often get put in the statistics making SIDS look like it's much much higher. If you Google it, it actually will say that about one in 1000 babies die every year of SIDS. But the true rate of the completely on known kids is many, many, many, many times less than that.

Is it 38 per 100,000. So yes, that's point 03 8% 03. Okay, point zero 3%. If we don't say percent that takes off, that takes off two zeros from the stats. It's 38 per 100,000. It's point 03 8%. That's very low number of course, but let's get into the practicality of co sleeping let's talk about how to safely host sleep. And I think you've alluded to why There's endless research to support it. carbondioxide thing was fascinating. But how does one safely co sleep picture that new mom, because it's exhausted. And her family is saying, I hope you're not going to be sleeping with that baby. So what does she need to know about doing this safely?

Well, if you if you're really, by the books kind of gal, the breastfeeding, medicine, the breast category of breastfeeding medicine, yes, thank you, they published the breast sleeping recommendations, which is what it's really what you're doing is breast sleeping, the baby is there at your breast throughout the night. And that alone is the protective mechanism. And I found this to myself, even though you know, a single experience can also be applied to the majority. I think about this from a very, like, the evolution like epigenetics, like how our environment affects the genetics of these babies, because when I'm sleeping with him, as my third, his feet are on my legs in the cuddle curl, and he's pushing and kicking off my legs, you know, to change his position to get comfortable, my arm is around him, we're in skin to skin contact, he, you know, can easily nurse if he needs to, I'm not up he can nurse even without me waking up, you know, we're that close. And it is like a dream come true. And this is something that Carrie and I wish we could share with more new moms is that it's really like having your childhood baby doll. Be a lot and be there right there next to you just like you always wanted as a little three, four or five little girl, this is what our gift is as mothers is like you finally get to have a real live baby. And then suddenly, you're too scared to cuddle it to sleep and then you're exhausted. And then you're resentful. And you're mad at your partner. Because, you know, dads don't have the same brains as moms and like, why isn't he responding to the baby? You know, it's like, we just we fight so much of nature's design in this, that when you actually just go to lay down with your baby. It's so simple. And yes, you can be saved, you can watch the cracks, you can, you know, minimize the pillows. But really, it's your intuition that Carrie and I always talk about like if you just understand that your nervous system is built on instincts. And if you listen to it and only hear what you feel on a body level, like does this feel safe? Is this feel normal? Is this natural? Is this stressing me out? Those are our instincts talking to us through our bodily reactions and our emotions in the moment. And you can trust that, you know, it's like that's what we want to share with new moms is like you actually don't need a ton of mainstream advice, much of it written by male pediatricians in the 40s. And it hasn't really been updated, you know, to reflect what we now know about this exchange of breaths, heart rate skin to skin dopamine, oxytocin. And so you really exchange that for just exhaustion. I think as a new mom, dragging yourself to separate.

So gently, you said that you started off with your first doing all the all the kind of things that you were told to do the standard advice, putting the baby in a separate room, cribs, whatever, all these things, and now you have three children, and a husband and one bed. Can you can you tell us a little bit about like, when parents ask you like, Well, how do I even get started on this? What do I do? Can you just run through a few of like the tips about what you really definitely don't want to do and what you should do when you're starting to co sleep.

Okay, so if you're gonna start to co sleep like today, if you have a baby, and you're very nervous about it, I would suggest just making a floor palette and laying down on the floor with your baby with a pillow and a blanket for a nap, you know, so that you don't have to stress at all about the rolling off or you think you're gonna roll over your baby in bed, you can do the floor bed, I would also say that, like, there's so many online resources too, and we can give you like the ones that we've used as well. But there's a really awesome thing called bed sheet bumpers where you actually put the bumper underneath a fitted sheet and it makes a bumper across your entire bed so your baby cannot actually even roll physically to the edge and fall off. And it's awesome. You can get them on Amazon. And that is a great way to just if you want to stay in your bed because that's where you're most comfortable. That is a wonderful way with how to with not having to deal with pillows and extra blankets bunched up. It's a really neat thing.

One of the one of the common fears that I always get from parents is that they're they're terrified that they're gonna roll over on their baby in the night and I always remind parents that are asked them really when is the last time you rolled off the edge of your bed? Hmm, yeah, no, I don't do that. And that's because we're not like, completely unaware when we're sleeping, we actually have really strong awareness and senses, even when we're sleeping and rolling over on your baby, outside of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or, you know, not having any awareness of where your body is, like, yeah, that's just not going to happen.

It's just not going to happen. And I think just more new moms need to know that it's not going to happen, like you just said, and you have to just come back out of the fear of like, Is this okay? What are people gonna think?

And you always say, nobody is in your bed bedroom at night.

I mean, like, I don't even know why people actually need to know the information because nobody asked me how me and my husband's sleep and where we sleep in our house. And, you know, I just think that people are very curious about babies because of maybe that's all they knew, as a mom, even way back, then How's the baby sleeping through the night? How's baby sleeping, you know. And sometimes you don't even have to feel prompted to go into all the reasons why you co sleep, you could just be like, it's great. You know what I mean? Like just being more confident in knowing that you can do it. And you don't have to always explain it to people.

This is similar to what we faced with women who are choosing home birth. And they think, Well, what if what if something goes wrong? And then I have to go back and say, I chose to give birth on home. And everybody's looking at me saying, Well, that was a stupid thing to do. So what if I go sleep with my baby? And what if something happens, and then I have to explain to everybody that I made this choice. And you're right. It's nobody's business, you, you know, you have to do what you feel comfortable with in your birth space and in your sleep space, and giving birth at home. ever giving birth in the hospital is fighting nature, and sleeping with your baby in a separate room is fighting nature in nature.

And then one other thing to know too, if you're really afraid about rolling on your baby, is that the amygdala in the brain as a new mom turns into a hypersensitive mode, immediately postpartum. So like you lose your placenta and your milk. And the amygdala starts firing to keep your baby safe, which turns on like your superhero hearing. And just how you know you like you can hear your baby squirm a wall away, you know, in the desert, literally hear a feather hit the floor. So you actually have a brain change that ensures the survival of your baby. So when you're sleeping, it sounds like, well, I'm going to just be awake all night. And sometimes you do have to adjust to the sensitivity of your brain at that new level after you are postpartum. Because you are more aware, you're more aware of your sensory systems entirely, because that is nature's designed to keep you in tune with your baby, and hearing. So when they're close, when your baby is close to you skin to skin, they move less, they they squirm less they cry out less. So you're not having to be awake in a hypersensitive mode. So if you're maybe separated, you'll remain in a hypersensitive mode, because your mind doesn't know where your baby is. And so it's trying to listen for it all the time. You also become very attuned to what is normal little baby sounds, when you're sleeping close to your baby, like the little fidgets and sounds that they make, that they don't actually wake you. Whereas if they're in a separate room, you're more likely to wake up at something that's a completely normal sound. And they're not actually meeting you, but it's still awakened do and when you sit close to them, you just kind of get in the mode of like you learn to identify the real sound versus just the normal. Let me go back to sleep sound.

Yes, absolutely. And I do think, you know, one thing that I think a common thing that comes up too, with new moms is like, Okay, well, if I start this, they will never leave my bed. You know, oh, my goodness that was. And, you know, we have found now that we've been sleeping with our children for a long time that they want us, the more you actually push them away at the infant stage, the more clinging you're, they get to come back to you older. And it's just this thing of that because they need that close contact in that newborn stage so much in that first year. That actually the amount of pushing away, lends them coming back into mom and dad's room at night. And then parents usually give up around two or three and they're like, Okay, get in the bed. You know, there's very, there's very good research out there to support that, that the infant attachment and infant bonding and how the more you hold and cuddle and sleep your baby and love your baby and respond to your baby, the more independent they are toddlers and young children. But that's such an important point you guys made because I know I was given the advice to never like, not by anybody close to me, but I was given the advice that letting children sleep in your bed would ruin your marriage. Like that was like the biggest mistake you could make in your marriage is to let your child into your bed. Yes.

I don't know. I feel like I've certainly heard that. And I don't feel like I've experienced that in the same way. And I think childhood and infancy is such a short time period. That your marriage really when you decide to have kids and obviously some people don't decide but you know, the whole point is that there is a change in your mind. Our age and the season is just what it is. And because your parents now you are doing what makes it easiest for everybody. And you don't only do that certain marital thing in bed, I mean, I'd be sorry for you and kids are super heavy sleepers. Go back.

I mean, my two kids slept through my free birth. So they didn't wake up to the baby was there laying next to me basically through everything. Yeah, they really did. Yeah, we're not we're wait. We're I just have to say we're not condoning having sex with your partner in bed while your children we have to spell a few things out sometimes.

Be creative.

Yeah. co sleeping would ruin a marriage. You know, I really think it's just what's important. What are the values that's important? Is it important for the mother to get the most energy have have the rest she needs if she feels the most comfortable, co sleeping? Usually a lot of dads can just eventually go along.

I mean, let's be honest, even when babies aren't sleeping in the room, I run a postpartum group every Tuesday. Virtually no woman is having sex. And that freaking out that they're not having sex. And it is not because of the baby. It's because they're exhausted. It's because they've got all sorts of other stuff going on pelvic floor stuff, emotions, whatever it is. And they're like, am I the only one not having sex? And in all these months, and everyone is like, Oh, thank God, we're talking about it. And I'm not I'm not saying that. That's how it should be. I'm not saying that. That's something we should totally normalize and, and chalk off to nothing. But it's so silly to say, your marriage can't sustain these periods. This is what this period is like, she's not necessary. She's almost definitely not into having sex, no matter where the baby is. She's her she's physically totally drained. And when her life gets easier, and when the children get older, there's gonna be no stopping her from having energy and having her sex drive back. And people are so afraid this is the rest of my life now. No, it's not. There is really, you know, this whole, we hear these things about how much sex women have in their 30s. And then women have babies, and they're like, Who are these women having sex? And I'm convinced women are having more sex and getting more exercise in their 40s. Sooner 30 They're having their babies. Yes, absolutely. It's, it's everything else is just urgent, taking care of the baby is constantly an urgent thing you're dealing with sex feels like a luxury during that period of your life really does.

I also will add my husband, he, I mean, he's always been pretty, like whatever you want to do type of guy. And I know there are more fussy men out there in our marriage, he has loved cosleeping. And it came to him because of my choice like this is just easier, I get more rest, right. But now he cuddles and loves our I mean five year old and three year old and it's not that they won't get out of our bed. It's that we actually in a space confinement, which is what is important to know about co sleeping is that it's worldwide. Like that's just normal practice. Like it's just really our western culture.

So when when I co slept when they were very little and breastfeeding, and it got to the point for me when they were so active, it just absolutely wasn't working anymore. So it felt natural to put them next to me right near the bed. But for those parents who co sleep when the babies are babies, when they're toddlers, when they're young children three, four or five, when does it ever end? How does it ever end? For those proponents who really are into this family bed that goes on for years and years? I'm sure we have listeners who are like, wait a second, how does it ever change over? So what what is the process from there?

I think it's so individualized. And it's really going to depend on each child because it's going to depend on the emotional independence that they feel. Most children if they've been truly supported and nurtured in that first year, they're probably going to be able to detach and be more independent, like Tricia was saying earlier, the more emotional dependence they've had, you will probably see more dependence early on. And honestly, it would just depend like my highly sensitive six year old still enjoys sleeping with us. But sometimes she sleeps alone, it's a lot of been her choice and just kind of navigating it. And I think as parents, we can just take a load off and not feel like okay, by the time you turn three you got to do this, it's really depends on your child and what their emotional needs are. So if cipher, you're working mom, and your way all day, and so maybe your child's gone from you, that is a wonderful time to come back and emotionally connect is to just be able to sleep next to each other so easy and so easy to bond that way to get a lot of, you know, touching and cuddles even into toddlerhood. And so many moms are like, Well, I have to go back to work early on postpartum. And so sleeping together is a great way to encourage the bonding process that maybe you missed out, you know, because you have to go to work. So again, it just it's so individualized, you'll know as your as your child ages. That's like say just one age, you know.

So my takeaway from this conversation is that it is important to co sleep in the early period. And then my takeaway from the rest of the conversation is what you are saying to all parents and to all moms out there is you have our permission. Right? As experts who know this research, you have our permission to continue cosleeping as long as it works for every member of your family.

Absolutely, yes, yeah, absolutely. And that's the best message of all, because that leaves, again, mothers in charge of, you know, listening to their own intuition, their own family's needs. It's not trying to follow some host sleeping schedule, it puts it all back into your family, and what are your values and priorities?

I mean, it all you know, it always, always, just come, you know, always just comes back to biology, right? Like, we just look at what nature tells us, if we look to nature, we usually can find the right answer. And if something is feeling off, if you're feeling torn, and if you're feeling uncomfortable with what you're doing, go with what feels comfortable. And for most moms, that is keeping your baby with you. You know, if the if the fear is so great about keeping your baby with you, then maybe you have a little bit of work to do. Or maybe you really do choose to just let your baby sleep elsewhere. And that isn't Of course your choice. But most of the moms are in the boat of I want to do this and I'm feeling guilty and I'm feeling guilted and I'm feeling wrong about it every day and we just need those moms to understand that they can trust themselves, that they can trust nature that they can trust their biology and that they should trust those instincts.

Thanks for joining us at the down to burst show. You can reach us at downtube our show on Instagram or email us at contact at downriver show.com. All of Cynthia's classes and churches breastfeeding services are held live online serving women and couples everywhere.

Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit down to birth show.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in. And as always hear everyone and listen to yourself. It would be presumptuous for you to have rules for anyone to follow. And this is what's parents are dealing with all the time every 10 years. There are new rules around everything anyway. I mean, they they I just read yesterday, they're now saying baby should sit up by the age of nine months and forever. They said six months and it's like, what?

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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