My last blog on co-sleeping and bed-sharing prompted something that I never expected; an invitation to appear on my preferred current affairs show, Native Affairs. Though extremely nervous, I decided to take up the opportunity. Hey, if I can do unmedicated childbirth of twins, how hard can live television be?
Pretty darn hard. Faced with the beady eyes of multiple camera lenses, and the knowledge that the other guest was the chief coroner, I promptly forgot my carefully-researched and worded message and fumbled my way through.
I spent the drive home flip-flopping between "Arrrgh, I sucked!" and euphoria because "I DID IT!" Thankfully, when I actually watched it, I sounded more coherent and less panicked than I had thought.
It was a surreal sort of day, actually. I went from this in the morning:
To this at night:
I suspect not every guest has to check they've got all the paint out of their nose.
Anyway, although I did get more across in those stressful six minutes than I thought I had, I'd still like to share what I wanted to say:
A family might choose to bed-share because it simplifies breastfeeding and helps attachment. They might bed-share by accident, when a restless baby finally quiets and the parent falls asleep. They might bed-share because that's the only space they have, or the only way to keep baby warm.
A lot of families bed-share because it just feels right. And that makes sense; it's a biological imperative, and the closeness has a positive physiological impact on mother and baby, especially for breastfeeding.
Around 80% of New Zealand families report bed-sharing at least occasionally. That's a lot of babies in beds, and a lot of parents lying to Plunket because they don't want a lecture. Just saying "bed-sharing is bad" ignores the messy reality that it happens anyway.
People die when they drink and drive, so we have laws about "Don't drink drive". We don't ban driving altogether. The stigma is against the risky behaviour.
Almost all of the bed-sharing deaths happen with known risk factors. If people think they're going to get in trouble just for bed-sharing, they won't have a conversation about the details of how to do it safely. They don't see safe bed-sharing.
Perhaps a more powerful message would be "Prepare before you share". Run a campaign showing what safe bed-sharing looks like. "No pillows, no blankets", "Couches kill", "Baby goes next to Mum", "Baby sleeps flat on its back", "Smokers need to use a wahakura", "One drink is too many to share".
There are lots of people who supported me and gave me the courage to go on the show. I owe many thanks to all of them. I did it!