Could Baby’s Sleepless Nights Be a Survival Mechanism?

Could there be an ulterior motive behind your baby’s late-night feedings? In some new research published today in the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health Professor David Haig theorizes that those 4 a.m. wakeup calls could be your baby’s way of ensuring he’s your one and only for a little while. Apparently, all that sleep deprivation (not to mention the breastfeeding), can help delay ovulation in new moms, making it more likely that your babies will be spaced further apart—so your son or daughter will get the extra attention needed to thrive, before their little sibling comes along. According to author David Haig, “More intense nursing, especially at night, is associated with prolonged infertility. Natural selection will have preserved suckling and sleeping behaviours of infants that suppress ovarian function in mothers because infants have benefited from delay of the next birth.”

But the study forgot to factor in one other key aspect into this, though—all those sleep-deprived nights kind of do a number on your sex drive. When you’re only getting a few hours of sleep a night, you may not exactly be in the mood to do anything that leads to conception!

And sadly, even though the wonders of modern contraception mean we don’t really need this all-natural version of baby spacing, the biological response hasn’t changed—so you can expect lots of sleepless nights, apparently unnecessarily!

Tell us: Did your baby wake up frequently in the middle of the night for feedings? How did that affect your life?

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Baby Sleep: When to Give Up Nighttime Feedings
Baby Sleep: When to Give Up Nighttime Feedings
Baby Sleep: When to Give Up Nighttime Feedings

Image: Breastfeeding baby by vita khorzhevska/Shutterstock.com

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  1. by Thinking Out Loud #4 | Ali Damron

    On April 17, 2014 at 5:06 am

    [...] did read an article about how babies could possibly have ulterior motives when they are night nursing. A professor [...]