Tuesday, 13 December 2016

My Breasts Are Wonky

This post could also be called “The lesser talked about perils of co-sleeping”.

First the obligatory safety warning: co-sleeping or bed sharing can be dangerous. If you choose to co-sleep please ensure you follow the guidelines. I’m using co-sleeping to mean intentionally sleeping in the same bed as my baby, rather than falling asleep on the sofa together which is not safe.

Further information about co-sleeping:

Now enough about that, I’m going to write the rest of this post with the assumption that safe advice is being followed by myself and anyone who may be encouraged to co-sleep.

Little used to sleep well, but around 4 months it all went wrong. In the months that followed I was pretty exhausted as I tried to get her back to sleep in her cot after the many night time wake ups. On a few occasions my eyes drifted closed while I was sitting up feeding so I decided I would just lie down on my side with my boob out. I cuddled Little next to me, she fed and I fell asleep. Some time later Little started fussing, I had barely opened my eyes before she had found my nipple and re-latched. 

For the last few months when Little wakes up for the first time after I have gone to bed, I pick her up from her cot and we lie down together. I get at least an hours more sleep this way and it’s kept me functioning while we go through this extended sleeping like a newborn ‘phase’.

black and white photograph of a sleeping mother with a breastfeeding baby

Sounds great, but it’s not without it’s downsides, the biggest of them is probably my wonky boobs. Little lies on the outside of the bed rather than between me and my partner. I lie on my side and find it more comfortable if she nurses from the breast which is closest to the mattress so for most of our night feeds she is feeding from the same side.  The magic which is breastfeeding means my right boob can easily compensate for the extra feeds, but it has had the result that it’s become (very slightly) bigger than the left. You probably wouldn’t notice. At least I hope you wouldn’t notice, although now I’m going to worry about what people are thinking if they stare at my chest. 

To go with my wonky chest I often wake up with a painful shoulder from the way I am lying. I don’t think it’s natural to lie in one position all night, but I instinctively do when Little is next to me. This sometimes results in sore muscles. It’s just as well I don’t have to pick up anything heavy so my aching body can recover…

I guess I’m fortunate, due to Little’s interest in my chest she normally stays in one place so I don’t have the acrobatics and head kicks many co-sleeping families report (I get these when she is awake instead). I have tried moving further away from her at times when she is asleep (and unattached), but she tends to wriggle closer again. We repeat this process until the big man is on the brink of falling out of bed. Maybe I should keep going?

Night time activities are a challenge too (I’m not talking sex, my Nana might be reading). If I ever need to get out of bed to go to the toilet it requires careful manoeuvring to avoid disturbing the waking baby. Best case scenario she stays asleep and I return to discover I no longer have an adult size patch of bed to sleep in. I then have to make the decision of moving the baby (and her inevitably waking up) or trying to perform some sleep yoga to fit in to the available space and cover myself in the duvet without getting any too near Little.

If I happen to be wake up before Little, a very rare event, I have no choice but to stay in bed as I can’t safely leave her on her own. I could turn the monitor on, but there is a good chance she would wake up quietly and crawl off the bed before making a noise. When she has finally learnt to climb off things backwards I might be able to try this, but I’m hoping she will start sleeping better in her cot again one day soon.


So co-sleeping causes wonky boobs, aching shoulders, cold nights or uncomfortable bladders and no alone time. Balance that out with getting more sleep? I choose sleep every time.
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4 comments

  1. We bedshare too but I either swap sides or feed from the one on top. If my partner was in the bed then I would top and tail when I needed to change sides. I've got a wonky boob because she favours one more than the other in the day but fortunately it's the other one that my son favoured when he nursed so I'm hoping it might balance out! I choose sleep every time too!

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    Replies
    1. Ooo clever. I like the top and tail idea

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  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one qith wonky books. I choose sleep as well

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