Monday, April 16, 2012

Mommy Wars 101

To begin, I just want to clear the air. I have definitely been involved in mommy wars in my time as a mother, and do you want to know what? They're awful. I've hurt so many feelings--feelings of some of the women I hold most dear in my life. I've caused doubt and discouragement where I should have given help and encouragement. I've been a bit of a jerk. Plain and simple. There have been too many times when I've left one of these mommy scuffles with frustration and feelings of sinful pride that are followed by months of feeling like one of the worst human beings on the planet.  So first, an apology. I am truly, truly sorry for any hurt feelings I have caused. I worry that I have destroyed friendships that I hold so dear, only to make my point. What an idiot I have been.

A little bit of personal history (for those of you who haven't watched the vigor of my blog posts diminish over the last few months): I found myself in a number of online mommy wars in my first few months of motherhood--debates about crying it out, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, co-sleeping vs. solitary sleeping, strollers vs. slings, and the like. At the end of the day, my personal preferences haven't changed much. I still think breast is best, that safe co-sleeping should be considered a viable option for most families, and that a sling beats a stroller any day. But here's where I have changed--I don't think my way is the only true way. I sure as heck think it's a good way. It's the way I've been inspired to raise my children (or at least the one I have thus far). But the "true" way? Nope. Don't think so. At least not anymore.

I was talking with another mom a while ago about this subject. She mentioned that she found it ridiculous how there can be wars, famine, homelessness, and other really BIG problems going on in society; but rather than focusing on these big problems, moms get themselves worked up over parenting issues. It does seem kind of silly now, doesn't it? 

In the last few months, I've really been wondering about the "whys" of Mommy Wars--why do they happen? Why do we become so attached to our way of doing things? Even more, why do we feel a need to share push our way on others?

I've thought of a few truly legitimate reasons for this kind of behavior. I'm not at all trying to justify the behavior, only to say that I think that if we can understand the reasons behind the wars themselves, maybe we'll be in a better position to turn away from them:

  • The "Only True Way" Syndrome: As human beings, we are constantly seeking for "capital T" Truth. The universal, all-encompassing truth that will show us the way to all things--how to live our lives, where we are going, and what we should be doing. As a member of a religion that claims the title of the only completely true and living church upon the earth, I kind of understand where this mentality comes from within Mormon Mommy circles. We feel a truly genuine desire to share our way--the True way--with others. After many, many attempts to find the "true" way of parenting in the scriptures, I came up a bit empty handed. Truth be told, there isn't a set-in-stone recipe for parenting, even (and perhaps, especially) in the scriptures. If there truly was a "true and only way" to raise children, I think God would have been really clear about it. Turns out there are two basic principles to spiritual parenting: Love and Righteousness. From there, you've got a whole lot of different and valid interpretations.
  • The "I See My Child" Syndrome: There is this crazy thing that happened when I became a mother and maybe others of you have experienced it. Anytime you hear/see/learn of a sad, horrific, terrifying, or otherwise upsetting thing happening to a child, you imagine it happening to your own child. If there's something that you don't agree with and someone does it with their children, it almost feels as if they're doing it to your own. And it hurts. Truly. So the Mother Bear emerges. But what needs to be remembered is that it's NOT your child and that really, save any true form of abuse, their children are probably going to be just fine and so are yours. It's just hard to remember when your heartstrings are being tugged.
  • The "I Feel Insecure" Syndrome: Isn't our good ol' friend insecurity the cause of most contention? When we feel secure in our decisions and in ourselves, we are almost untouchable. That's not to say that we can take a beating, but little mommy bickerings aren't going to sway our decision or make us feel that we are doing a poor job. But when a mom feels insecure with her decision and/or feels that she is being judged or ridiculed, things get tense.
  • The "I Really Want to Help Syndrome": This is most likely in conjunction with the "Only True Way Syndrome." When a mom feels strongly and/or when something has worked very well for her, she may want to help others. At it's best, this results in encouragement and conversation. At it's worst, this turns into bossing around and judging. 
  • The "My Circumstances are Your Circumstances" Syndrome: The big debate point for me in my early days of Mommy Wars was CIO sleep training. I couldn't understand how other families could possibly do such a thing. And then I stepped back and realized that I was: 1) a stay at home mom who could take naps/sleep in after a bad night, 2) a co-sleeper, which means I got more sleep than moms with baby in another room, 3) someone who operates fairly well on little sleep, 4) I only had one child, and 5) I had some personal emotional reasons for not feeling comfortable with leaving someone alone when they wanted/needed comfort. So, for me and my circumstances, not crying it out was an (and really, THE) option. After I stepped back and realized that not all moms were in the same situation as me (duh!), I was able to be a lot more understanding of the experience of other mothers. Too frequently in parenting, politics, and in general life, we think in our own circumstances and what we did/would do. But that's not always the same set of circumstances that another person experiences. In fact, it's rarely so. But it's still hard to do--to think outside of our box--and Mommy Wars are just one of the unfortunate results.
Those are just a few of the reasons I could think of, though I'm sure there are many others (please feel free to share!). More than anything, I hope the mommy wars can stop. I hope that we can learn to honor and understand one another. I hope we can spend our time uplifting our fellow moms rather than saying or doing things that tear each other down. Let's face it, being a mom is tough work. The last thing a mom needs is something superfluous to worry about.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Breastfeeding: No need to fear

I just want to say upfront that I don't want this to turn into a pro-breastfeeding, anti-formula feeding post. I'm not going to sit and spout on and on about the benefits of breastfeeding or the "horrors" of formula. I trust that many of you know yours stuff and know the arguments on both sides of the fence. So, I'm just not going to go there.

Also, I should mention that I have had a number of friends who truly could not breast feed. One friend of mine lost so much blood during delivery that from the beginning, no matter what she did, she was unable to establish a good supply. Another struggled with hormone imbalances of the thyroid that they were never able to get under control. Yet another had to go on a strong drug for disease treatment that would have caused her child harm. And countless more who have lost their supply because of stress, fatigue, or what have you, and were unable to produce enough milk. I don't want this to at all be construed as a critique of these women or even of women who choose to formula-feed right off the bat.

My main desire for this post is to instill some confidence in pregnant and postpartum mothers who desire to breastfeed. In those months leading up to the birth of my son, I was terrified of breastfeeding. I worried that it wouldn't work out. I worried that I wouldn't be able to figure out how to do it. I worried about sore nipples, incorrect latches, positioning, and most of all, milk production. I've had so many friends who lost their milk supply and I didn't want that to be me.

 I was panicked, mostly because my perception of the difficulties behind breastfeeding were blown way out of proportion. Hardly anyone comes up to you and tells you their success stories. It's just one failure story after another and that gets a soon-to-be mommy worried. So, here are some things you should know.

1) For the vast majority of women, breastfeeding is possible. If you ask any woman in Bangladesh how many women she knows who are unable to breastfeed, she'll likely tell you that she doesn't know any healthy woman unable to do so. Now, we're not in Bangladesh and frankly, our support network for breastfeeding mothers in the West is significantly lacking. Largely, breastfeeding mothers in the West are sequestered alone at home, have little night help, and are juggling a number of responsibilities outside of the home (i.e school, work). Also, our Western culture is not as tolerant of breastfeeding as are the Bangladeshi. So, I'm not suggesting it's equal territory. However, as far as milk production itself is concerned, when underfed women in third-world countries are able to have such success, perhaps there needs to be some re-evaluation of cultural implications around breastfeeding rather than an assumption that breastfeeding is too hard or impossible for most women.

2) Demand feeding is the key. If there was anything, anything, that will affect your supply the most, it's how frequently and how long your baby feeds. There are a number of infant care books on the market suggesting that babies should eat less frequently and longer so they get full feedings and get more of the hindmilk. Unfortunately, these books are greatly lacking in knowledge surrounding lactation and sadly, are incorrect in their approach to establishing a lasting milk supply. I'm not going to suggest they won't help them sleep longer or whatever they're selling as the main point of their book. They have their place and their purpose, but milk supply isn't one of them.

While a mother may be able to maintain her supply in the first few months while feeding on a schedule, most find a dramatic decrease in their milk supply around 3-4 months of age. This is because in the early weeks and months, milk production is controlled by the hormones progesterone and prolactin while over time it moves to a supply-demand system. I have seen countless women who have suffered supply loss around the 3-4 month mark. Know that this type of supply loss is preventable as well as reversible.

Just as a side note, remember that breastfeeding accomplishes more than nutrition. On a strictly biological need level, it also quenches thirst. Babies should not be forced to be "hungry" for a feed because some feeds are to provide "food" and some are to provide "water." Do not force your baby into an eating schedule in the first 3-4 months of life. At that age they cannot manipulate so take them at their word when they tell you they want to eat. A baby who does not want to breastfeed will make it known (any mom who has been there knows what I mean. You cannot force a baby to breastfeed!).

If you're interested in the nuts and bolts of milk supply, here is a wonder article written by a reputable lactation consultant on the subject.

3) If you do experience low supply, there are ways to help. Most doctors will suggest pumping as a way to check or increase supply. However, there is something to note about pumping--pumping only tells you how much you can pump. Unless you are using a hospital grade pump, you will not be able to extract the same amount of milk as you would from your baby sucking straight from the breast. If you are returning to work or school full-time, check with your local hospital to see if you can rent or borrow one of these pumps.

Another device that many lactation consultants will suggest is a supplemental nutrition system. This is a tube-like structure that can be placed at the breast that delivers formula or pumped milk to your baby while they are suckling at the breast. The act of having the baby suckle at the breast will, in itself, increase your supply (provided any health issues surround the low supply have been addressed) while still providing nourishment for your baby so she is able to grow and thrive in the interim. This is a wonderful option for adoptive mothers or mothers who are hoping to relactate after losing their supply.

4) Talk to the expert. Your pediatrician likely isn't it. If you were having heart problems, your family physician could only do so much for you before they would turn you over to a cardiologist. The same is true of pediatricians and breastfeeding. Pediatricians have little, and often no, training in lactation science. They are taught the benefits thereof but many, if not most, cannot offer reliable help when it comes to breastfeeding mechanics or how to increase milk supply. If you find yourself struggling, seek out a lactation consultant or a La Leche League leader. They have been trained especially in helping breastfeeding moms. Your likelihood of success when seeking out their help is significantly higher than when referring to your pediatrician or left to your own devices and the internet. Again, imagine yourself  trying to self-treat your heart problem using internet articles. If money is an issue, consider the cost of formula feeding vs. a consultation with a lactation consultant (ranging from $30-100). You will find yourself saving that much money in the first month of transferring to formula. A La Leche League leader usually will offer her services for free.

5) Keep baby close. Whether you choose to co-sleep or sleep separately, baby should remain in the same room as the mother for the first 11-12 weeks of life. This is because the close proximity of mother and baby helps to establish supply (it will also reduce your baby's risk for SIDS). While your head may know that you have a baby, your body also needs to know. Keeping your baby in close proximity, especially at night when prolactin levels are highest, will help to encourage a good supply. Wearing your baby in a sling or wrap, preferably skin to skin, will also help to increase and maintain milk supply.

6) Remember that you can't have your cake and eat it too--most of the time. Breastfeeding has its challenges. One of them is that you're the one on call, no matter what time of day, or night. I completely understand why some families choose to use formula in the nighttime so Dad can take a night feed. And I don't blame a parent for wanting their child to sleep through the night at an early age.

But, like all things in life, sometimes goals aren't compatible. Having a baby sleep through the night at 7, 8, 9 weeks old will often spell disaster for a mother's milk supply. I say often because it's not always true, especially if the baby started sleeping through without too much outside encouragement. In the first 12 weeks of life, a baby calling for night feedings should be seen as a necessity rather than an inability to put himself back to sleep. Whether breastfeeding or sleeping through the night is your goal, you'll need to evaluate which is your main goal and which is secondary. Only a family can make that decision for themselves. Or  you can cross your fingers for a natural sleeper. Yeah, I did that...not so lucky. Maybe next time.

7) Accept help and take time for you. Most of us are offered plenty of help with the birth of a new baby, but we don't take it because of pride or what have you. But, if someone offers to hold the baby while you take a nap, take them up on it! (Really, who doesn't love to snuggle a newborn? Let them have the chance!) If you really need some time for yourself, take the babysitting offer from Grandma so you can go shopping or whatever it is that brings you happiness. More than anything, you need to take care of yourself. It may feel selfish, but remember that you taking care of you allows you to take care of baby.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Reflections on a year of motherhood

I've been thinking about this post for some time. Tomorrow my little boy will cross the threshold of months to years. Suddenly he's thrown into classifications of toddlers rather than babies and suddenly I feel as if a whole new set of joys and challenges are about to unfold.

A couple things happened tonight that made me stop and think about this past year of  mothering. For starters, Brennan was sitting on the couch telling Hyrum the story about his birth, a story that often fills me with feelings of anticipation, emptiness, and failure. Then I came across a friend's blog post about a certain book that was a part of a lot of turmoil in my early days of motherhood and a new flood of emotions emerged--guilt and frustration being the main themes.

So frequently these are the things that I think of when I think of my failings as a mother. The moments I try to sweep under the rug and pretend like they're not really there. But like the dust under the rug, it's there, and sooner or later I've got to deal with it.

Maybe this is the exact moment to do so.

I'm not a failure, even though the little voice inside of my head seems to whisper it at least once a day. The moment where I realize that I fed Hyrum toast and an orange--but no vegetables (gasp!)--for lunch. The moment where, because I'm feeling ill, I let him watch Curious George on the television in hopes of getting a few moments to rest on the couch. The moment where I question if in my resolve to never let him cry to sleep, I've destroyed his sleep habits for life. The moment where I wonder if those five minutes of crying have removed his trust in me. The moment where I can't seem to figure out if I'm giving him too little or too much attention, too little or too much love, too little or too much _______.

That blasted voice. I don't like it. And it's not me.

I'm a mother. I love my child. I want everything in the world for him and darn it, I've done a great job, no matter what the voice in my head thinks.

And so I started thinking about all of those absolutely wonderful moments. Those moments that nothing bad can touch. Those moments that live on in your memory as the pat on the back, the sigh of relief, and the reminders that not only am I doing this thing called motherhood, but I'm actually doing a pretty good job at it.

In my personal journey, here are a few of those moments.
  • The first time I held this precious child and knew that he was mine.
  • The first time I admitted to missing the feeling of being pregnant, to have that life--Hyrum's life--inside of me in such a physical and emotional way.
  • The day(s) I finished my recital/oral exam/comprehensive exam/paper/etc., not in spite of having a newborn, but because I wanted to set an example for him of finishing what I started. The first of many experiences in which I realized that my life was more than my own, it was a legacy for my children.
  • The first night I brought Hyrum to bed with me. That night and for and many nights afterwards, I fell in love with the feeling of a of a sleeping child resting in the crook of my arm, at my breast, near my heart, and by my side--a feeling of closeness, both physically and emotionally, that I will never regret.
  • The moment I was grateful for an easy going child when, because Brennan was out of town, I had Hyrum alone for four hours of church meetings. He spent hour after hour contentedly in the baby carrier through Primary program practices, ward choir rehearsals, and much more.
  • The few weeks when he refused to poop in his diaper and because I knew him so well, knew when to put him on the potty. That phase passed, but for that time, it was a surprisingly beautiful reminder that I knew him and through our communication with one another, I could give him what he needed.
  • The moment, just today, when he climbed into my lap, asked to nurse, and sat there contentedly for nearly 20 minutes, glad to be held by and cuddling with mommy
  • The moment when I picked him up from the sitter and despite my separation anxiety, realized that he had a blast because he knew I would return to him.
  • The moment every day when I kneel down to pray and  thank Heavenly Father over and over again for the blessing of this child and for this experience.
I'm sure that voice of guilt and doubt will return, and probably frequently.

But I'm grateful for those moments that tell you it's all worth it. I'm grateful for love, support and encouraging words that help tie me over in the moments when I can't remember THE moments. Most of all, I'm grateful to be a mother.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weighing in on the CIO debate

There is probably no topic that separates parents and contributes to mommy wars like sleep training. I've been pretty outspoken about my dislike of the cry it out approach in the past and really, I'm still not a fan.

That being said, I've had a bit of a change of heart these past few months--partly because I'm living in a less-than-ideal baby sleeping situation currently and partly because I realize that families are doing their very best and could use as much encouragement as possible. Also, I'm starting to realize that "cry it out" really does seem to be a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" sort of dilemma. As we've been facing our own sleep dilemmas, I've been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking. Thus far, here are the arguments for and against CIO that seem legitimate (in my mind).

  • CIO enables the baby or young child to learn the important skill of going to sleep unaided. Lack of this skill may result in years of parental involvement in aiding a child to go to sleep and/or issues with insomnia later in life.
  • CIO often results in more sleep overall and more consolidated sleep as the child is able to return to sleep unaided. Lack of sleep and consolidated sleep has been linked to lower IQ scores, less empathy, behavioral problems, and ADHD.
  • Parents are able to get the sleep they need to be understanding, empathetic, patient, and have fun with their children.
  • CIO may weaken parent/child attachment, teach child that they cannot trust their parents and/or environment. This may result in less attachment promoting behaviors including less empathy and behavioral problems.
  • CIO has been linked with brain damage, lower IQ scores, and ADHD.
  • CIO may cause unhealthy fears of sleep and/or the dark.
  • CIO may cause a parent to lose trust in their baby's cues and therefore be less understanding, empathetic, patient, etc.
Anyone else see a major dilemma here? Basically, if you CIO you're destroying your child's life and if you don't CIO you're destroying your child's life...and most of the evidence points to the exact same emotional/behavioral/societal problems. Blast.

Here's what I think deep down inside. I don't think there is any one right answer.  There really is no way to quantitatively or qualitatively measure the affects of CIO, or lack thereof. However, there are a few well-established theories that most scientists and doctors agree on:

  • Babies under 12 weeks of age cannot self-soothe (Weissbluth). Therefore, it would make sense that there could be some negative emotional/psychological/sociological affects of allowing a newborn to CIO.
  • It is impossible to spoil a child in the first year of life (Erickson). (note: I'm not suggesting that parents should NOT sleep train in the first year of life. Just that there cannot be any "spoiling" if parents choose not to do so during the first 12 months).
  • Accumulative sleep deprivation can be physically and mentally detrimental to both children and their parents.
Beyond these points, I feel that most points used to sell or protest the CIO approach to sleep training are purely conjecture. Whatever side of the fence you fall on probably has more to do with your personal preferences, beliefs, and intuition.

On that last point--intuition--I just want to make mention that because of my personal spiritual beliefs and faith, I feel that parents, and only the parents, can receive personal revelation for their child. Maybe this is a bit personal, but I feel that the choice to, not to, how, when, where to sleep train, is something that should be made a matter of intense thought and prayer. It's important for parents to know and study their options, make a decision that feels right based on their family's individual circumstances at that time, and then take the matter to the Lord. Only then parents will have confirmation from the only True Source as to the best course of action for their family. I feel that if this were the way that all parents went about making decisions for their families, then maybe all of the mommy wars on this subject could stop. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child

I'm on a quest to finish all of these book reviews, so please bear with me. This book was one that I read a while ago, about six months ago. Katie Allison Granju has done a marvelous job of compiling research for her book about attachment parenting. This was another "appeal to the nerd" book because, again, tons of quotes from doctors, parents, anthropologists, child development specialists, psychologists, etc.

This is definitely a book I would recommend to those who already are considering an "attachment parenting" lifestyle for them and their families rather than those who are being introduced to it for the first time (I'd recommend Dr. Sears's The Baby Book in those cases), mostly because of the passionate way she talks about attachment parenting (i.e. calling a crib a "baby cage" and carrying babies around in "baby buckets" such as car seats, swings, etc.). It would probably be a little much for an attachment parenting investigator. However, she does cover some parenting decision that aren't covered very thoroughly in The Baby Book including choices about circumcision, cloth diapering, how to choose a childcare provider or pediatrician, and extended breastfeeding.  They're touched on in The Baby Book, but Granju goes into quite a bit of detail about these decisions.

If I was to have every mother read one chapter of this book, it would be the section on breastfeeding. She dispels myths about milk production (i.e. breasts need to "build up" milk so that baby has enough to eat, schedule feeding vs. cue feeding, and pumping as a way to increase milk production) and unloads a plethora of research about the benefits of breastfeeding. However, she also acknowledges that in a small percentage of cases, some women are physically unable to breastfeed, usually due to a medical problem (loss of too much blood during child birth, a hormonal imbalance, extreme stress, etc) and in these cases gives suggestion on how to "nurse" your bottle fed baby. I really liked how she addressed that breastfeeding is much more than the milk, it's a relationship, and that no matter what, a parent can have that relationship with their child.

A second "recommended chapter" would be the chapter on baby carriers. Again, there are a lot more types now than there were when this book was published, but she goes into the pros and cons of the basic carrier types (sling, front carrier, back carrier) and how to choose a baby carrier that is best suited for your needs.

Though she is quite zealous, she is very thorough and well thought-out. For example, I was on the fence about circumcising future sons, but Granju's section on circumcision (how it's unnecessary, the benefits of an intact penis, pain experienced during and after circumcision, etc.) certainly influenced me. Also, she includes literally hundreds of resources for parents including support groups, carrier types and manufacturers, breastfeeding help, and further reading. Since her book was published in 1999, I would love it if she revised and updated this book to include a "best of" list of resources since, obviously, the advent of the internet has significantly increased a parent's resources.

So, if you're curious about attachment parenting, opt for The Baby Book or Dr. Sears's The Attachment Parenting Book (it's more or less the "getting attached" section of The Baby Book with some added information). If you're pretty sure attachment parenting is the route for you and you want some added information about the benefits thereof, check out Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child by Katie Allison Granju.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spoiled is what happens to milk

It always makes me sad to hear someone say that I'm spoiling my child by holding him too much, by rocking him at night, by letting him sleep beside me, or by staying home with him. It makes me sad because spoiled is such a rotten word. It means that you have failed, it means that the product is of no use, that it's bad, that it's a waste.  Like that spoiled milk in the refrigerator--it's disgusting and unappealing.

But I don't believe it.  You see, spoiled is what happens to something that has been left alone too long. Something that did not serve its purpose. Something that has been forgotten. Something you didn't care about enough to focus your attention on it.  Something that will never be what it could have become.

And the same is with "spoiled" children.  When we began our journey as parents, I wondered if our high-touch style of parenting would spoil him. And then I thought, "what do I think of when I think of a spoiled child?"  I think of children who have everything they want-- every toy they asked for, never have to help around the home, and can do whatever they please without considering the consequences of those choices.  But I don't think those things are love.  I've never known a child to be spoiled with hugs, kisses, closeness, contact, holding, or cuddles.  In fact, when it comes to what we think of as "spoiling," it's in large part things.  Things that have been used in place of love, time, and attention.

And so, if love be spoils, then I give them. But surely my child will not be forgotten. He will not be tossed aside.  He will not be made useless.  I'm on a personal mission as part of my "have a plan," to spend more time loving, comforting, cuddling, holding, kissing, and being with my child. Maybe, one step at a time, I can help him see that things are not the answer--love and people are.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Baby

I read this book a few months ago and didn't get around to reviewing it because of my silly space bar dilemma. So, here goes.

I really enjoyed reading Three in a Bed. It definitely appealed to the nerd within me as it had literally hundreds of quotes from cultural anthropologists, psychologists, medical doctors, professors, historical treatises on parenting, and the #1 experts--real parents.  There was a quote on almost every single page pointing to the benefits of sleeping with your baby, babywearing, forgoing cry-it-out sleep training, breastfeeding, etc.  It is written by Deborah Jackson, British mother of three, all of whom co-slept with her and her husband.

Jackson held traditional views about where a baby should sleep--in his crib, in his own room--until reading The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost by Jean Liedorff.  In a section of Liedorff's book, she speaks of her experience one night sleeping in the jungle among the natives of South America.  At one point, all of the sleepers were awakened, one told a joke, they all laughed, and then went immediately back to sleep.  There were no sleep troubles and every person was able to be roused, awakened, and fall back asleep without any problems whatsoever.  In her study of this same group of natives, she found that within their culture, families slept together rather than separately, as is the custom in most of Western society.  She concluded that a lot of our sleep problems in the West--from insomnia to general tiredness--have been created by our "laboratory style" sleep conditions including lights out, comfortable bed, quietness, and undisturbed sleep. As such, these laboratory sleep conditions may, in fact, be creating sleep problems rather than preventing them.  And so, Jackson decided in the final weeks of pregnancy with her first child, to get rid of their assembled crib and bring Baby to bed with her and her husband.

Throughout the book, Jackson addresses a myriad of issues that face the co-sleeping family including the typical concerns about SIDS, overlaying, and general safety.  She also addresses practical matters such as sexual intimacy between husband and wife (which, was one part of the book that I didn't really catch her fire.  She basically subscribes to the thought that it's not that big of a deal if Baby is there, awake or asleep, and that it may even be healthy for babies and very young children to be privy to sexual exchanges between parents.  Not really my cup of tea, personally but whatever floats your boat); how to wean from the family bed when desired; as well as the emotional, health, sociological, and psychological benefits to co-sleeping.

My personal favorite section was her chapter entitled "Nomads and Nannies" where she examines parenting practices across many cultures.  She dispels the belief that all "uncivilized" and non-Western cultures are high-touch, co-sleeping, and nurturing.  Instead, she gives example after example of gentle parenting practices in some cultures, and how they, in turn, produce a culture characterized as gentle, meek, and kind.  In contrast, she gives mention to aggressive cultures that are highly disciplined, leave young babies to cry excessively (at one point, she talks about a culture that swaddles their babies and put them in a hanging basket on the wall except for when they are permitted to eat or to be changed), and who do not nurture and hold their babies.  Jackson suggests that perhaps our aggressive Western culture spawns from low-touch, overly disciplined parenting practices.  I think that's a little simplistic, but definitely some food for thought.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who has considered co-sleeping in their family.  I do wish she had included a little more information about how to handle a few of the issues we're currently facing in our co-sleeping situation--i.e. Mr. Baby Bed Hog and how to prevent my arms from falling asleep when they're trying to avoid Mr. Baby Bed Hog.  Again, I didn't agree or buy everything she had to say but overall, I found it to be very informative, enlightening, and thought-provoking book.

Happy Reading!