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Second Night Syndrome

During your baby's second night in the outside world, s/he realizes they're not in the familiar home (your womb) of the past nine months anymore. This new environment has light, loud noises, no more water, changes in movement and touch, including cuddles from strangers.

Kieran Riley Photography

I wouldn't be surprised if you have never heard of second night syndrome. It's not talked about all that often, but as a result of the lack of discussion around it, I have been asked by new parents:

'Is this normal? What's wrong? Will my baby ever sleep? Is my baby getting enough? Why won't my baby stop crying? Am I doing this right?'

Even worse, ' Am I doing a bad job already?'

No new parent should be feeling that way so I hope these tips help you in some way.

Kieran Riley Photography

During your baby's second night in the outside world, s/he realizes they're not in the familiar home (your womb) of the past nine months anymore. This new environment has light, loud noises, no more water, changes in movement and touch, including cuddles from strangers. This new home is about 15 degrees cooler and far away from the most comforting sound they've constantly heard, your heartbeat. It's all a bit overwhelming and scary.

There is a theory that babies fall into a deep sleep for the first 12-24 hours of their life after the stress of the birth and when they awaken from that, they become aware that life as they knew is has gone. This can be accentuated if you are breastfeeding as your milk hasn't come in yet (which is normal - that's usually on day three) and your baby may now be hungry more often.

If you are prepared for and have an appreciation of this, you may well cope better and be able to understand your baby better.

Kieran Riley Photography

Here's my 7 top tips to help you get through second night syndrome

1) Try not to worry and remember, this is a normal transition process your baby has to go through. If you are breastfeeding, your baby's need to feed is sending signals to your breasts to make more milk. As long as your baby is fed when s/he wants for as long as s/he wants then the right amount of milk will be produced. Giving formula at this time may seem like the answer but it will interfere with this process and less breastmilk will be made. Creating a cycle.

2) Have skin-to-skin, baby's need for comfort is mainly closeness, food and responsive parents. Responding to your baby's needs makes them feel loved, safe and secure. This alone can help your baby grow into a confident toddler.

3) Don't have too many visitors on day one. All those different voices and smells can be an overwhelming form of external stimulation for a newborn. Whilst they are adjusting to life outside the womb, being passed around can be stressful for newborns. Let him/her get used to their new surroundings gradually and receive comfort from the people and smells h/she already knows. This also allows you to settle into your new role and rest when you can, rather than worry about the visitors.

4) Play music to your baby during pregnancy and then again, on the second day. The music will be familiar to your baby as babies can hear in the womb. They know your voice and they respond to sounds that they hear often. Play the same songs frequently to your baby throughout your pregnancy. When s/he is born this music triggers the blissful memories of life in the womb and is comforting and reassuring. Listen to this TED talk too. It's mind blowing https://www.ted.com/talks/annie_murphy_paul_what_we_learn_before_we_re_born

5) Have a 'soap less' bedtime bath. It's not necessary to wash your baby for the first 4 weeks of life so don't use bubble bath or any soap but have a bath with your newborn in skin to skin. Gently rub your wet hands over their head whilst they listen to your heartbeat which comforts your baby and reinforces that you are still there responding to them. Feel yourself becoming calm and relax with your baby.

Kieran Riley Photography

6) It's safe to express and store your breastmilk during pregnancy (from 36 weeks) and it can be an option if your baby is really unsettled or you anticipate problems with feeding you can top your baby up with breastmilk. Ask your midwife to help you do this and go to antenatal classes if you have the time. Preparation is key.

7) Your baby will sleep and it will get better. Your baby's tummy on day two is the size of a marble. Colostrum, your first milk, comes in small quantities which is why your baby will want to feed frequently on this night. It won't always be like this, by day 5 your baby will be needing about 60-80 mls after your milk has come in and if breastfeeding has got off to the right start, your body will produce that. One day you'll be dropping him/her at the school gates wondering where your tiny baby went. Cherish the good times and remember the challenging times are temporary. You'll get through it.

8) Don't be hard on yourself. You are doing and will continue to do a great job. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Be confident, stay well informed and do what is best for you. What works for others may or may not work for you but that is not a reflection of your parenting, it's a difference in personality and individual needs. Quite simply, we are our own unique characters and that's okay because it's what makes life interesting!

For more information and advice please refer to my blog https://www.mlmaternity.com/maternity-talk/