It was about 2am when my phone rang half a ring before I quickly answered it. I could hear their newborn crying followed by a desperate, “He won’t stop crying. We are so tired and he has been doing this all night. What do we do?”
As a birth and postpartum doula, I have walked this walk with many families. As a professional, the second night of a newborn’s life does not shock me, but it can be shocking to many families who aren’t aware of the changes that can take place from the first 24 hours to the second 24 hours of a newborn’s life.
What is Second Night Syndrome?
The first 24 hours or so of your newborn’s life is often full of blissful baby snuggles, long naps and establishing eating as they recover from their birth journey. However, night two can sometimes be jolting to some families. Night two can bring way more crying that the first 24 hours. The theory is that during the second to third day postpartum, your newborn is discovering they are no longer in the comforts of your womb. They are experiencing many new firsts – the feeling of hunger, cold air across their skin, lights and stimulation etc… In return, these new feelings can sometimes leave a baby unsettled.
How can I prepare for Second Night Syndrome?
Plan for support. Some families choose to stay a second night in their hospital following birth so they can have the help of their wonderful nurses. For the families who find more comfort in their own home and go home 24 hours postpartum, you can plan for in-home support from a loved one or trusted friend. You can also hire a postpartum doula. Omaha Birth & Babies postpartum doulas are trained and certified infant care specialists and postpartum doulas who have mastered supporting families during this time. From cooking meals to supporting your feeding goals – we anticipate and prioritize your family’s needs.
Rest assured that if your baby experiences some extra crying it will pass. You may find that your baby wants to spend extra time skin to skin with you and for nursing mothers, your baby will likely want to nurse frequently. Some families may panic at how often their baby is at the breast and worry that their supply is not enough. Continue offering your breast and skin-to skin. This will signal to your breast to make more milk and provide comfort to your little one.
I am a huge fan of Dr. Karp’s Five S’s for infant soothing.
- Swaddle – swaddle your baby
- Side-lying – hold baby in a side-lying position
- Shush – turn on some white noise
- Sway – sway your baby side to side
- Suck – provide your breast for them to suckle. You may also use a clean pinky or even a pacifier.
Recovering from birth and taking care of your newborn is HARD work! When your newborn is resting, we encourage you to take the opportunity to rest too. Even if it is for just five minutes. Sleep and rest are not only important to your postpartum recovery but will also play a huge role in mental health. You can even look into an overnight newborn postpartum doula sometimes referred to as a night nurse, to help you optimize sleep and to support you with middle of the night newborn and feeding questions.