Tuesday, August 9, 2022

My bed-sharing setup

When I had my first baby, we struggled a lot with finding a sleep strategy that worked for both me and the baby. I talked about that journey in a blog post a few years ago, and how I ended up deciding to share a bed with my baby. I've now had another baby, and we're using the same bed-sharing approach again. Thanks to making the decision early on, I'm much better rested this time around.

Just like people share their office setups filled with geek gear, I'm going to share my bed-sharing setup. Maybe it'll help other breastfeeding mothers out there, or perhaps inspire someone to invent better gear!

Here's the sleeping setup:

Photo of floor mattress with sheets and pillows

Let's break down the sleeping components:

  • Floor mattress: 6" full-sized firm memory foam mattress. I bought the same one for baby #2, since baby #1 is still using it as a three year old. I figure these will be their mattresses for life, or at least their life in my house.
  • Slats: With my first baby, we had the mattress directly on the hardwood floor, and that led to black mold. I found some Korean-made slats on Etsy that fit the mattress size well enough and bought slats for both our mattresses. They're super low down so they don't make the mattress significantly higher (i.e. more dangerous in case of rolling), but hopefully they'll help prevent mold. Sadly, their Etsy shop is closed now, so you'd have to find similar ones or construct them yourself.
  • Bedsheets: You have to be super careful with bedsheets/blankets around babies, since they don't have the dexterity to move them away from their face. I wrap the sheet just around me, and often only use the blanket on the bottom half of my body. (Making milk keeps me pretty warm at night anyway, I often awake at 2AM in a sweat!)
  • Kindle: My favorite thing, both to help me fall asleep and to entertain me while nursing. I lean it against a pillow so that I don't have to hold it and can just flick it with whatever finger/limb is available.
  • Burp cloths: For late night spit ups. Yay.
  • Noise machine: The little elephant makes a heartbeat-like white noise. I'm not sure if it helps her, but it does help my partner to get less distracted by her little grunts and cries at night. We also have a humidifier in the room, as that's often recommended by doctors.
  • Alarm clock: I haven't set an alarm on it for years, but I do use it to make sure we haven't slept too long, since babies are supposed to nurse every 4 hours. Whenever I wake up, either due to my internal clock or her restlessness, I check the clock and decide if it's time to nurse.

So now let's talk about the nursing setup:

Photo of floor mattress with sheets and pillows in nursing position
  • Back support pillow: I lean against the wall while nursing, so this pillow makes that position more comfortable for me.
  • Boppy pillow: This is my favorite nursing pillow, and is the same model I use during the day.
  • Adjustable height pillow: I bought this to try as a nursing pillow (its intended use), but the form factor didn't work out that well for me. However, it's the perfect height/firmness to put under my knee when nursing, to elevate whichever side of the body my baby's nursing on.
  • Cooler: This stores an icepak and a Haakaa, a manual pump that works via suction only. I use the Haakaa to get extra milk out of whatever side my baby isn't nursing on, especially if she isn't eating much that night, and then I transfer the milk to a freezer bag in the morning. The Haakaa is an amazing invention, I still can't believe it works!
  • Nightlight: It helps to have a little light when positioning the baby. I also use my Kindle for additional illumination as needed.

That's my setup! I'd love to see more mothers sharing their gear. Let's nerd out on nursing! :D

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