As I first tried to memorize all the safe bedsharing rules, the one that kept bugging me was about tying my long hair back. Did my hair really pose a strangulation risk to my newborn?
It seemed a little extreme to me. A little unnecessary with everything else on my plate.
I remember that in those early weeks, it felt like every muscle in my body was sore. Reaching my heavy arms up and putting my hair in a bun was something extra I did not want to do, and I had to force myself to do it.
Not sure if this has happened to you yet, but I can remember a few times I fell asleep only to awaken on my own — not because of the baby, but because my hair elastic had caused a pulsing headache.
There’s nothing more frustrating than accidentally waking yourself up for no good reason!
I wanted to leave my greasy, unwashed hair down. I did not want to even deal with it. But after digging into the research, I realized that tying my hair back was indeed an important component to safe bedsharing.
Look. Even though breastfeeding moms are biologically designed to be in-tune with their baby, the unthinkable can happen. Tragically, some babies have died after being strangled by their mother’s long hair.
Until a baby is able to move their head on command or roll their body away from hair that falls on their face, they’re at risk. Only when your baby reaches that developmental milestone can you leave your hair down with a clear conscience.
But by that point, I hope tying it up will be second nature for you.
It’s just not worth the risk!
Unlike other safety guidelines that may initially cause frustration — like putting your bed frame and side tables in the attic to collect cobwebs, replacing your beloved cushy mattress with one that reminds you of a yoga mat, or kicking your partner out of bed if he’s had one too many beers that night — this one is a piece of cake!
Here’s the simple way I made it part of my daily routine. I treated myself to a few new velvet scrunchies. They never gave me a headache, and they were so pretty, they just… made me happy!
I kept one of them on my pillow, since my mattress was on the floor and I no longer had a bedside table in the room. This made it impossible to forget to use it.
One Last Thing
If you’re a new mom grappling with the various safety guidelines, I commend you for using the little energy you’ve got right now to consider your hairdo.
I remember how overwhelming it feels to be a brand new bedsharing parent.
If you’d like more information on the practical aspects of bedsharing on any given night from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m., check out my Bedsharing Beginner’s Guide.
At first, it can feel like there are too many rules to follow. But if you do this right (and I am confident you will), your little one will thrive.
They’ll consume more milk throughout the night. The carbon dioxide you expel will stimulate their breathing in and out, in and out, in and out.
And as discussed in a fascinating study published by the Child Psychiatry & Human Development journal, your baby will be at a lower risk for SIDS.
“Bedsharing infants have more, but briefer, awakenings and spend less time in deep stages of sleep, thus making it less likely that infants will enter a deep sleep from which they cannot emerge when faced with a life-threatening event.”
There are so many benefits for both your baby and yourself — keep up the good work, and go find yourself a new scrunchie.
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