Baby's Night Time Wake-ups May Be About Survival of the Fittest
Do you think babies are capable of waking parents up at night to keep them from having another baby anytime soon?
I’m exhausted, drained, tired, fatigued, and frankly worn out. If I could find other good synonyms to describe my current state of my lack of slumber, I’d use those too.
In my mind I had been mentally preparing to have a bad sleeper with my second baby since my oldest was a great sleeper as an infant. Truth be told, baby sister was a great sleeper from about six weeks to three-ish months old. I thought I hit the jackpot. But then the fourth leap of The Wonder Weeks hit, the four month sleep regression ensued, and my precious baby girl decided that sleep was for the birds. And generally, the only way I can get her back to sleep after her numerous wake-ups at night is if I nurse her.
David Haig, an Evolutionary Biologist, though, suggests a bigger reason behind the sleepless nights babies give their parents. He posits it’s not just about babies wanting to eat, but rather an evolutionary ploy to keep the introduction of new siblings at bay as a mom who breastfeeds through the night can generally rely of the night feedings to keep them from ovulating.
It’s almost like survival of the fittest. Haig believes that babies perhaps more readily cry for their mom in order to suckle and eat more at night, providing them ample sustenance to survive and have their own children in the future. And if mom were to get pregnant sooner rather than later, the nourishment of breastfeeding could potentially be cut off.
This is just an evolutionary theory as others believe that there could be other reasons why babies cry at night. This could stem from the mutual benefits of mom and baby during those extra feedings at night like closes and the release of hormones for mom, to other evolutionary thoughts around hunter and gatherer times when there was no nine to five work day. However, part of me is really starting to believe in Haig’s theory. Baby sister wants to forever be the baby in our family.
I remember after having our first daughter, just weeks later my husband made a comment about having a second child. I was nowhere near ready to have this conversation as the newborn phase was exhausting, especially as our night time routine consisted of feeding her through an NG tube, then me having to spend an additional 20 minutes pumping, then more rocking back to sleep. At about six weeks, though, my oldest started sleeping pretty long stretches and did so for most of her infancy. With an easy sleeper like that, my mind quickly started imagining a sibling for her.
However, now with a baby who struggles to sleep long stretches, I can’t fathom having another one. We aren’t planning on having a third, but honestly, if the thought ever did cross my mind, I bet baby sister would get to work at waking up even more at night. She’s a smart one already at four months old. She’s figured out how to manipulate me already with her adorable eyes and perfected whine to get what she wants from me. I can’t resist her.
Not only has the babe not slept well at night for a little over a month now, but she’s back to refusing naps unless she’s being held. If I rocked with her cradled against my chest, she’d sleep for two hours. I know this because on days when I really feel she needs more sleep in her life, I rock with her over and over while my oldest does quiet time in her room. You see, baby sister is totally capable of sleeping; she just wants me all to herself.
Just as Haig believes, I know my daughter can go the whole night without eating and be just fine. She’s done it before. Actually, she’s done it a lot before her most recent problems with sleep. As a breastfeeding mama, my body adjusted and shifted milk production to be more readily available during the day. However, my body is now thrown for a loop and having to readjust to allow for more suckling through the night, which ultimately will continue to keep me from ovulating.
And really, who’s got time or energy to procreate when you’re so tired from taking care of a baby.
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