My husband and I are six weeks in to our lifetime journey of having a child. While preparing for our daughter’s arrival, we purchased a number of sleep options. We had heard from many of our parent friends and family members that their child would refuse to sleep in their crib, or bassinet, and knowing how important sleep is, we decided to be prepared, and have a number of accessible options. One of the items we decided to try was the DockATot Deluxe.
The idea of bed-sharing made us equally anxious.
I am a person who cannot sleep without a blanket and multitude of pillows, and after a few nights of sleeping with my daughter on my chest. We decided to, on the recommendation of a friend, transition her to sleeping in our bed, inside of the DockATot.
That being said, we were fully educated and aware of the sleep safe recommendations, and understood that technically the DockATot does not meet safe sleep recommendations as recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).
We encourage anyone who considers letting their child sleep unsupervised in the DockATot to do their research and to make their own independent decision into the best sleep situation for their family.
The Co-sleeping Controversy
Prior to the birth of my daughter, I was avidly against co-sleeping and bed-sharing for safety reasons. However, reality hit hard after her arrival and I discovered that my new baby would not sleep anywhere other than in my arms or bed. I was frequently breastfeeding to establish milk supply, and my sleepy newborn required mother assisted wakeups. She would scream and cry anytime she was left in her bassinet, and soon I found myself too tired to handle her care. Having her in my bed helped all of us have a better sleep, and frank discussion within my 200-member strong pregnancy turned parenting group revealed that almost everyone else was co-sleeping as well.
The DockATot is lightweight and is easy to bring with you from place to place. I often use the DockATot for supervised naps when I need to be places other than my bedroom. If I am upstairs working at my computer, my daughter and the DockATot come with me. This allows for my daughter to be nearby at all times, even during naps and makes it easy to soothe her during wake-ups.. I find the portability of the DockATot extremely convenient, and plan to bring it with me even for long trips and camping. (Check back in September for my blog post on camping with your baby, in which I will be featuring the DockATot again!)
My daughter slept better in the DockATot than anywhere else. She cannot roll over in it, and the DockATot along with a swaddle, help reduce her moro reflex and reduce nighttime wake-ups. Our first night in the DockATot, my daughter slept six hours straight. This continued until her six week growth spurt and sleep regression, in which she is still getting three hour chunks of sleep. I sleep more soundly knowing that my daughter is beside me, but not directly in my bed.
What I Don’t Love about it
The DockATot comes with a removable cover that can be easily washed and dried when exposed to the inevitable newborn messes of breastmilk, spit up and other bodily excretions. However, the DockATot cover is extremely difficult to replace once washed. I found putting the cover back on my DockATot a two man and two hour job. Something that is even more difficult to do, when you are also trying to take care of a baby.
The DockATot makers recommend the DockATot for use as a changing station. However, at the cost and with how difficult putting a newly washed DockATot cover is. I would never use it to change my baby in. Anyone who has changed a newborn (or any baby for that matter) knows that they love to pee and poo the minute their diaper has been removed, and regardless of whether you have replaced that diaper with a new one. As well, many of the DockATot cover patterns are white, or have white designs in them. Have you ever washed newborn poop out of white fabric? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
Co-sleeping is not recommended by the Health Canada or by Alberta Health. Both organizations recommend a flat, firm surface, with no pillows or blankets, and not within an adult bed.
**Disclaimer: Be please aware that we are not promoting any specific sleep situation. I am only detailing my own personal experiences and the things that worked best for our family.
For educational purposes on why some people choose co sleeping and bed sharing, our doula team recommends:
Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears
The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin
Sweet Sleep by Theresa Pitman
Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping
by Dr. James McKenna
Three in a bed by Deborah Jackson
Further educational resources
Safe Sleep Resources from Platypus Media
Where Babies Sleep from the ISIS Infant Sleep Information Source
Guidelines to Sleeping Safe with Infants by James J. McKenna, Ph.D.
Safe Sleep 7: Is it safe to bedshare? is a free handout for parents, produced by La Leche League International
Infant Health Research: Bed Sharing, Infant Sleep and SIDS from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Attachment Parenting International – Infant Sleep Safety
Babies sharing their mothers’ beds while in hospital: a sample policy from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Guideline on Co-Sleeping and Breastfeeding, Clinical Protocol Number 6 from the Academy for Breastfeeding Medicine
AAP Policy Statement: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment (Oct. 17, 2011)
Disclaimer: It is very important to discuss any herbs or medicinal remedies that you plan to use with your primary care provider. Some people with sensitivities to flowers may experience allergic reactions to things such as Chamomile or Chickweed.
For more information regarding herbal use in pregnancy and postpartum, check out these resources:
DIY Postpartum/Baby Products
For a good laugh check this video out: Amy Schumer, Turtle Births and Sherpa Doulas.
her portrayal of midwives/doulas is obviously not accurate, we are highly trained and educated, just saying.
I know I’m guilty of this – I rarely take time to address, honor or mark the milestones in my life. Sometimes, this takes a toll on me! It can feel like all of these important events are flying by and my journey seems to be going far too quickly. Sacred Pregnancy is about slowing down, appreciating the little (and big!) changes your body is going through and honoring this transitional time in your life.
A Sacred Pregnancy retreat will teach you to take time for yourself – even if it’s 5 minutes a day. It outlines the importance of meditation and journaling to connect to yourself and your baby and create a sacred space for reflection. It will also encourage you to take a serious look at the expectations you hold surrounding pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Women will get all kinds of pregnancy and birth messages from the time they are a young girl until the step onto the pregnancy, birth and motherhood path. Are the expectations you have realistic? Are they serving you in a positive way? Some of these messages are healthy, good and empowering, but most from society at large are not. It’s important for us to look at our expectations and where they come from, or at least where do we think they came from. It’s also especially important to know that every birth story is a normal birth story. It’s your journey; it’s your life lesson.
Sacred Pregnancy is connection, is facing and forgiving your fears, is honoring the body that is growing an extension of love, is sisterhood. It’s growing your circle. It’s learning to change – because you are changing! Motherhood is a journey and pregnancy is just the beginning – so slow down when you can, you deserve to celebrate it!
Samara Oscroft is one of our doulas in training with Full Circle Birth Collective and is the co-creator of our postpartum belly binds and is working on her Scared Pregnancy certifications.
To learn more about her visit her page here.
Sonya Duffee CLD, CLDT, CCCE, CPD
Touch is an integral part of being human. Every inch of our skin is connected to nerves that relay the sense of touch to our brain for interpretation. Human touch produces a soothing and calming affect. It allows us to feel loved and cared for. Is it possible that there is more to it than we know? Is it usually instinctual to reach out to our children and hold them and nurture them from the start of their life?
Researchers have been discovering the benefits of immediate skin to skin contact for infants at birth, and the impact it has on their emotional engagement and development. Mothers who immediately engage skin to skin touch with their infants at the time of birth have increased maternal behaviour, and develop more confidence in themselves. Caring for their newborn is enhanced and they tend to breastfeed for longer periods of time.
Over the years, medical researchers have discovered the basic biological facts regarding the benefits and necessity of human contact and connection. Being touched brings a sense of safety and comfort in our environment, and it is through touch that healthy brain development occurs. 
There were three areas that became dominant in the research between parent and child, which concluded the need for connection at the start of life. The three areas were as follows:
Brain Development - Studies suggests that touch helps in brain development and produces a calming effect, reducing the stress hormone cortisol, which can be damaging to human brain tissue, effecting learning and memory. Loving affection and touch have been confirmed to develop healthy emotions and neurobiological development. 
Bonding – Connecting with our infant, holding and caressing them with gentle touch, brings a deeper connection to parents. The hormone dopamine, is heightened, producing a feel-good high which also helps your baby to emotionally attach to you. This positive interaction boosts self-confidence and security, and as the child grows, helps nurture his or her ability to relate to others.
Growth and Survival – The first contact an infant has with its mother brings a surge of hormones that can help regulate body temperature and blood sugar levels, as well as lower stress hormones that can inhibit sleep patterns and growth. A lack of touch can lower levels of growth hormone in a child, resulting in an immune system that may be weakened and create other health problems.
Science has identified positive effects of touch for babies and families to also include pain relief, physiological stability in heart rate and temperature of the newborn, infant weight gain and growth, and deeper parent-infant interactions. 
Infants in the NICU or who are born prematurely, greatly benefit from ‘kangaroo care’, (skin to skin with mothers) and receiving gentle touch. Dr. Neil Bergman, a senior medical superintendent states, "Physiology and research provide overwhelming evidence that kangaroo mother care is not only safe, but superior to the use of technology such as incubators. Depriving babies of skin-to-skin contact makes alternative stress pathways in the brain, which can lead to ADD, colic, and sleep disorders, among other things."
It is important for parents to consider their infant’s response to touch. Be conscious of signs of overstimulation, and of the delicate balance of our children’s needs. Signs of overstimulation in infants include crying, fussiness, hyperactivity and being withdrawn. In older infants, this may include clinging or hitting. Babies will often show a spaced out stare, turn away from their parents, or just not engage. The baby’s movements may become noticeably jerky, especially when on the verge of crying.
Touch can be through various means, such as cuddling, massage, gentle caressing of the hair, cheeks and face. Follow your infant’s cues to find out if your child becomes overstimulated and sensitive to touch. Use gentle light touches and gradual adjustments to physical affection. As children develop a sense of self, personal space and boundaries, their desire for affection may change. The positive effects and benefits are numerous! Follow your instinct and bring your child close to you for those warm cuddles, because before you know it, they will be off and running.
- Study titled, "Bodily Pleasure Matters: Velocity of Touch Modulates Body Ownership During the Rubber Hand Illusion” were published online in Frontiers of Psychology. The research was led by Neuropsychoanalysis Centre Director Dr. Aikaterini (Katerina) Fotopoulou from University College London, and Dr. Paul Mark Jenkinson of the Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire in the UK.
Sonya Duffee is a certified labour and postpartum doula, doula trainer, childbirth educator and placenta encapsulator with Full Circle Birth Collective. She is a founding member of Full Circle Birth Collective and has been serving families since 1998.
Click here to read more about Sonya
Ina May Gaskin
Trust In Your Body