I came across this interesting paper about the risks and benefits of babies sleeping in the same bed as their mothers. This practice is discouraged in Britain on safety grounds, but the author of the paper notes that countries where bed-sharing is common have the lowest rates of cot death in the world and that it is possible for a baby to share the same bed as their mother safely by following basic rules (such as not over-wrapping the baby).
The author points out the many benefits to mother and baby of co-sleeping - bonding, better sleep, breastfeeding for longer - as well as the small fact that this was the practice for hundreds of years. I was very relieved to read it. With my first baby, I tried desperately to keep to the rules and spent many appalling nights pacing the floor with a screaming infant who just would not settle in his cot. Second time round, I was feeling a little more assertive and the baby slept in my bed for the first four months. Breastfeeding was easier, we were both relaxed and slept better and she was sleeping through the night by nine weeks. Nor did she have any trouble moving to a cot at the appropriate time, which I had feared. I have many happy memories of waking up in the night to find Francesca stirring for her feed, then dropping off to sleep again without a sound, or of waking up to find her snoring quietly next to my head. I would certainly recommend bed-sharing for breastfeeding mothers, subject to necessary precautions, many of which are quite obvious.