Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book review: Sleeping With Your Baby

Book review time! This is another book loaned to me by my doula. I'm so delighted that I read it.

It's a very short book (128 pages) with lots of white space and images, so it's a rather quick read. It's largely divided up into three sections: an introduction, a how to cosleep and an FAQ, but each section is divided up into mini-subsections of a page or three in length, so the whole book reads like a (well written and interesting) FAQ. 

The introduction gives some anthropological background on cosleeping in other cultures and species. The how to is probably the most important section as it explains how to cosleep and what can be dangerous. The FAQ addresses a hodgepodge of other miscellaneous concerns, such as twins, premature babies and lack of pediatrician support.

I had a couple of important take-aways from this book. First, the author, James McKenna points to research which shows a significant reduction in SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) when the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents. Note that this doesn't need to be in the same bed - just the same room. 

Second, McKenna gives the reader a bit of a taxonomy of cosleeping. Cosleeping means to have an infant share a bedroom with a parent. Bedsharing means to share the parents' bed with the infant.

McKenna is very strongly in favour of breastfeeding, though he acknowledges it may not work for everyone - but he says that cosleeping can very much support breastfeeding. 

I'm personally really glad I read this book. I always liked the idea of bedsharing, but for a number of reasons, which the how to cosleep section confirmed for me, I'd intuitively felt it was potentially dangerous for us to do (too many pillows, sometimes drinking too much, I do odd things in my sleep sometimes). But knowing that the SIDS risk reduction is just from cosleeping in the same room, not necessarily from bedsharing, is a great gift. 

Cosleeping is more acceptable to me and my DH, and fits better with his culture as well. How to sleep with your infant(s) is a very personal choice, and I'm so glad to come into this with more information.

I do feel that McKenna kind of glosses over the impact of bedsharing on a couple's sex life - this is the only place I found it addressed:

Intimacy will have to be less spontaneous. You may need to start scheduling time together... find some other place to be intimate... or move the baby to a crib or bassinet after he falls asleep.
I guess this was my biggest question about bedsharing - what about the sex? But perhaps that just reveals my naivete about what comes next in terms of post-partum sex frequency... I guess I'm trying to be optimistic.

Anyone have any other infant sleeping resource recommendations? I know there are a lot out there!


Desiree Fawn said...

We were discussing this book at my last la leche league meeting and I am excited about reading it :)

CaroLyn said...

Hi Desiree - thanks for stopping by! It's a good one. I'm currently reading some other books that focus on breastfeeding - will be posting reviews of those soon.