Before a friend of mine recently had her first baby, she spent months deciding whether or not she would breastfeed. It is a major decision, and with the advances in baby formula, there are perfectly healthy ways around it for women who choose not to do it. Most experts recommend breastfeeding if you are able, because breast milk has many valuable nutrients that simply cannot be replicated in manmade formula. The first few doses of it are packed with immunoglobins to start your baby’s health off right. At the same time, my mother didn’t breastfeed me because of the heavy medication she was on, and I am one of the healthiest people I know. After you weigh the pros and cons and decide that you’d like to breastfeed, understand that some studies show that breastfed babies sleep less through the night.

No matter what, your baby is not going to sleep through the night for a very long time. However, studies do show that babies who are breastfed wake up more often in the night for feedings. This is likely because breast milk is digested more easily, so your baby will experience hunger sooner before the morning. When you think about it, that’s probably a good thing. Formula contains “filler” to keep your baby from getting hungry, whereas breast milk is just the nutrition in its pure form. However, it could mean less sleep for you.

On the upside, babies who don’t sleep for long periods through the night have a smaller chance of experiencing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Doctors are not entirely sure what causes SIDS, but research has led them to believe that it’s caused by suffocation during the night. If your baby is waking up more every night, he will not be in one position long enough to suffocate.

Once you accept the fact that restless nights are officially a thing of the past, you’ll realize that it’s not so bad. People will understand those bags under your eyes. Sleepless nights should not be one of your deciding factors about whether or not to breastfeed, because you won’t be sleeping much either way. Whether your baby is waking up to be fed or you’re pacing around your own bedroom frantically listening to the baby monitor, motherhood will bring on a whole new schedule, and you should embrace it to prevent yourself from getting too frustrated.

Source: Darcia Narvaez et al: Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development. Oxford University Press 2013

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