One of the first things you will hear from people coming to meet your newborn for the first time, right after the "Ooo she's adorable!" will be; "Is she sleeping through yet?" As a mother that obviously wants her baby to be The Perfect Baby, you will start thinking of excuses you can make on her behalf or simply lie to them; "Yes she sleeps like an angel".
Babies spend most of their sleep cycle in active-sleep and it is a state similar to our REM stage, the stage where we wake easily.
You will be certain that she is definitely supposed to sleep through, so it is a problem you need to fix and when she does sleep through one random night for no apparent reason, you will message your friend to brag that your little angel slept through, rubbing her nose in it because you know that her little angel probably didn't.
Society wants you to believe that your baby is supposed to sleep through because they place the needs and comfort of the mother above those of the baby. They also need people to buy their sleep training books, to fix a problem that doesn't exist. You don't need to fix the baby, you need to change your expectation as a parent.
Adults have various stages of sleep that we go through in a normal sleep cycle and we end in REM, during REM we usually dream and we are more likely to wake during this stage than we would in deep sleep. Newborns and babies only have two stages of sleep, active-sleep and quiet-sleep.
Babies spend most of their sleep cycle in active-sleep and it is a state similar to our REM stage, the stage where we wake easily. During active-sleep you will see her eyelids move as she dreams and process the information of everything she learned during the day.
If you try to pop her down in her crib or your bed during active-sleep, she is very likely to wake up, eyes flying open, almost saying "Ta-Da! Sucker!". If you want even the slightest chance of lying her down and having her continue her sleep cycle, you need to wait until she enters quiet-sleep. Her breathing will be slow and rhythmic, her eyelids will stop fluttering and her body will be relaxed and heavy in your arms.
Furthermore, "sleeping through the night" for babies are considered any stretch of sleep equal or longer than 5 hours. Thus if your baby sleeps for 5 hours, wakes for a feed and then return to sleep for another 5 hours or more; congratulations! Your baby is already sleeping through, even though the bags under your eyes want to say otherwise.
Frequent waking in babies really is a good thing, it protects your baby from SIDS, it means they are going through a growth spurt, growing healthily and your baby's brain is developing. If your baby is waking to nurse, it can also mean so much more than just hunger.
It could mean that they want comfort or missed you, they might need to increase your breastmilk supply for next week's growth spurt or they might be in pain or feel ill, knowing they need the nutrients and illness fighting components in your breastmilk.
If you want more sleep at night, co-sleeping will be a very good option, as it will make breastfeeding much easier and less time-consuming and also help baby sleep better, knowing she is next to you. You need to remember that your newborn is need driven, she knows she is helpless and needs to remain close to her food source in order to survive. She will sleep much better knowing her needs are always met and that you are close.
For those mothers still awake at the end of this article, you need to stay strong! I know it is hard but it won't last forever, as your child develops, she too will have the sleeping stages like us adults do and not just active-sleep and quiet-sleep. She won't be little forever, every time you sit with your sleeping baby on your chest, rock her to sleep, smell her close, kiss her cheek as she drifts into dreamland or cuddle her at night, is one time closer to the last time.
There will be a last time for everything, don't wish it to be over too soon. Your laundry will never end, NEVER, that laundry hamper just keeps refilling himself as if there is no bottom, so leave the laundry and cuddle your baby. Sleep when the baby sleeps, or lie next to her and watch her sleep.
I know that I have spent hours at night desperately trying to get her to sleep, only finding her so freaking adorable once she is finally asleep, that I have to tell myself to resits touching her "Don't.Touch.The.Cuteness!"
If you have been blessed with an angel that does sleep through, count your blessings and don't rub it in other sleep deprived mothers' noses...well maybe a little.