To answer the last question first, yes this season ends. It's not the end though. Babies eventually turn into teenagers who will again keep you up at night like when they were newborns but this time you are wondering if they are ok, and when they will come home from an evening with friends. But I digress....
How often should a newborn nurse? My answer is as often as they want. It can be 30 minutes after they just finished nursing, or a few hours after. I'm not a fan of putting newborns on a schedule for many reasons. They are learning to eat so they need lots of practice. The digestive system is also learning how to process what they eat. They are growing so fast that they need to eat a lot and that is normal. Nursing when they want helps encourage and establish a good breast milk supply. I prefer that newborns don't go longer than 3 hours between nursing sessions. It's something I ask about at postpartum visits and we discuss what your baby's nursing pattern is, how well they are growing, and if anything needs to be tweaked. Also, be aware that the longer baby goes between nursing sessions at nights, the sooner your cycle will return (if you are one of those lucky women for whom nursing keeps periods at bay), so there is a small benefit to waking up often to nurse baby.
How does a parent with a newborn get sleep? I have lots of suggestions for this based on what I did wrong with my first child. Baby should be in the same room as Mom, next to the bed if you are not comfortable with bed sharing. As soon as you hear baby waking up, that's the time to gather up the pillows on the bed, and create a nest with any support you might need and start nursing baby. You may drowse while baby is nursing, and when they are done everyone can reposition for more sleep. That is so much more restful than getting up to get baby from another room and then nursing them in a room other than your bedroom, hoping they will settle and go back to sleep in their own bed and then trying to get back to sleep yourself before baby wakes to nurse again. When baby naps, you should nap. It's tempting to want to try to get a few things on your to do list done, but you and your family will benefit more if you get in a nap or two during the day than if you run yourself ragged trying to complete your to do list. Enlist the help of friends and family, or hire a postpartum doula to help keep up with basic household tasks. If you are a regular blog reader, you know I am a huge proponent of having a postpartum plan. Planning can go a long way towards setting life up so you can sleep and rest more.
The sleep deprivation that comes from caring for a newborn can feel like it will last forever, but it is a short season in your parenting journey. Sleep is vital for your recovery and health, so be strategic and proactive to create space for sleep. In my midwifery practice, I try to help clients think through what they might want or need before baby arrives. I want my clients to be prepared, and equipped for a postpartum that supports rest and recovery and meets their wants and needs, including sleep.