I am writing this for all the mummies who like me worry when I hear of other peoples little angels who sleep in their own bed in their own room all night long . And just to assure you I know of absolutely no babies like that.
I just read a question on a group ‘ how do you get a 9 month old to self soothe ?’ i.e sleep through the night. My midwife has also questioned me about this. To be honest both times I was seriously shocked. I had no idea a 9 month old should sleep through the night. None of my children have ever done .
I started getting worried . What am I doing? Am I doing this whole thing wrong ? Should my baby sleep through the night? Am I setting myself up for a hard future?
Then the lightbulb moment ,
“Why do we as Mums pressure ourselves to make our children and ourselves perfect sleepers?”.
Is that even a real thing?
When Noori was little we did the whole crying it out thing and it worked until the people downstairs started complaining. When we got our own house it didn’t matter but by then Noori had a bad relationship with sleep and her Dad said she could sleep in with us. Now she is 8 and after years of bribery and room decoration she still tells me how lonely she is in her own room and I feel so bad leaving her alone when her baby brother is next to me in her former place.
As the first child she gets experimented on and none of them have worked, through my own fault.
With this baby I vowed we would have a great bedtime routine, He would always sleep in his cot even at naptime. How wrong I was.
I was so so lucky to give birth in the midwife led birthing unit in my hospital. Part of the luxury was having a private room with double bed. (Well not so private as nurses came in and out all the time). I put baby in the very nice Mama’s and Papas crib. I didn’t like the fact he was far away from me and was worried about him . How would I know if he was OK? How would I know he was breathing? How could I know what was happening if he wasn’t next to me? By the way I’m blind as a bat without my glasses on so that didn’t help matters.
Then during the early hours he woke up and instinctively I fed him lying down. Baby , my Husband and I slept soundly. The nurse walked in and didn’t bat an eyelid at a newborn baby sleeping next to his Mama. As I am writing this I am realising how natural that sounds. We have been sleeping next to each other for the past 9 months. As soon as He was born I picked him up and he was in my arms for 30 minutes. The only person who touched him was the midwife putting a blanket on him. Why suddenly should we be separated?
For practical reasons I always have my baby in a baby carrier on the school run. People ask me why? Don’t you have a pram? I have given up explaining and just say he’s been hugging Mummy since he was born and thats true.
Fast forward to coming home. After just giving birth and having separated tummy muscles sitting up at night to breastfeed a baby and put him back in his cot was so uncomfortable. I resorted to lying down feeding as that was the only comfortable way and soon I was getting a relaxing sleep!! Yay.
Every morning I get to wake up with a smiley chubby cheek baby slapping my face.
Sometimes we have a routine and sometimes I need to be reminded to stick to it.
So this is our routine.
At 8PM we:
Read a story
Say its time to sleep
Say the sleeping Dua
And Surah Mulk.
Feed baby to sleep.
He starts off in his cot. Then wakes up 2-3 times a night for a feed. By this point I’m too tired for messing around so keep him in the bed with us.
As long as you and you partner haven’t smoked , drunk alcohol, been on medication or heavy sleepers it is pretty much safe to co sleep. Just make sure your baby is placed with their head higher than yours and there are no pillows or other bedding around them.
I read that in some African cultures , it is normal to wake up several times a night to feed a baby or be on guard to watch out for wild animals. They don’t have a bad relationship with sleep like we do being told we have to get this many hours of sleep, the numbers changing every year. I used to get so angry if my sleep was interrupted. Of course if you are going to work in the morning its a different story but if you are on maternity leave or a full time Mum we don’t need to have this attitude.
If my baby wakes up crying who am I to deny him a feed. Breastmilk not only fills their tummies but is also a pain relief. If baby wakes up in pain from teething imagine how happy he will be for that pain relief.
What really brought this idea to the forefront to me was reading the Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammed (SAW). As Muslims we have our 5 daily prayers , the optional prayers and tajahud.
The Prophet (SAW) would wake up part way through the night and pray the night prayer. This is our Sunnah. He woke up in the middle of the night on purpose!
Then there are the times in summer when Fajr is around 2 or 3am. Add these all up and look at the pattern.
wake up for Tajahhud
Wake up for Fajr.
Compare this to motherhood.
wake up for feed
Wake up for feed
wake up for feed.
Similar or not? As Muslims we shouldn’t expect a full 8-10 hours sleep.
Then the good news. Breastfeeding a baby every 4 hours a day and night up to 6 months can be a form of contraception called LAM contraception. You can read more about it at Babycentre. So if my baby wants feeding every few hours who am I to complain?
If my babies want to feel safe and warm sleeping next to their Mummy and Papa can I deny them that?
Every family is different. I know people who put their babies in a separate room at 3 months. Families who’s babies sleep in a cot or a side sleeper .I know parents who have their older kids in their own beds next to theirs. There is no one set rule or ideal for sleeping.
So lets destroy this one size fits all sleeping myth.
Aslong as we are all happy and sleeping , waking up , drinking milk or midnight feasts lets all be proudly , unashamedly imperfect. And when someone asks you how your baby sleeps tell them the truth and dispell a few sleeping myths.