This article is about one night that you may remember your entire life – your baby’s second night. The night when the rogue waves of new feelings and emotions – happiness and stress, responsibility and helplessness, blissfulness and melancholy – wash you away from your previous, childless life. This is when many first time moms face the challenges of the practical side of motherhood for the first time.
Your Newborns First Day
Your newborn baby is not hungry and won’t eat much during the first day of his life. Before coming into this world, he has taken all necessary nutrition from you. But your baby is born very tired. After passing through your boney and narrow vagina, with the bright lights of the delivery room, noises of people, and strangers around, your little one’s yet immature nervous system needs to rest and reboot. Research shows that during birth newborns experience much higher stress than their delivering mothers: their level of catecholamine (stress ‘hormones’) is 5-8 higher than of their mothers and 15-20 times higher than of resting adults. This is why most babies are born alert, but soon fall into sleep for the big part of the first day of their life.
Baby’s Second Night. What to Expect?
On the second day, your baby suddenly realizes that her entire world has changed, and she is no longer in your womb that was her home for the last nine months. She can’t hear your heartbeat, the air you inhale, your growling stomach, and even the sound of your blood flow. But there are two things she clearly recognizes – the sound of your voice and that being on your chest is the closest she can get to her previous “home”.
On the second day, babies become hungry too. In the womb, your baby enjoyed a 24-hour “feeding” schedule, because your digested nutrients passed through the umbilical cord directly into her bloodstream. After birth, your little one has to communicate her nutritional needs with you. In practice, this may mean nursing all night long. Each time you take her off your breast or chest to put back into baby crib, she starts rooting around and looking for your. If you delay picking her up again, she cries. This may continue for hours, and you may start thinking that your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk and is starving. This misinterpretation of newborn’s behavior is one of the reasons why many moms, committed to breastfeeding their babies, start supplementing with infant formula already in the hospital.
Baby’s Second Night. How to Survive?
Every baby is unique, and will behave differently on her second night. But if you observe her acting in the manner we have described, the following practical tips may help you to cope with the situation:
- Take it as something normal. In spite of how stressed and lost you might feel, remember that your baby’s fussiness is completely normal. Consult your hospital staff each time you have a question regarding your baby’s behavior. Most probably, they will tell you that your baby is behaving exactly as a one-day-old should behave.
- Listen to your baby and your instincts. Most of your baby’s fussiness is caused by his desire to be close to you. He is brand new in this world and needs the warmth and feeling of security that your body provides. There is nothing wrong with nursing or holding him on your chest as frequently or as long as he wants.
- Practice skin-to-skin kangaroo care. Kangaroo care has proved to have many health benefits for newborn babies. It stabilizes baby’s heart rate and breathing, helps them to calm down and have better sleep pattern. It will also boost your milk supply by stimulating the release of hormone prolactin.
- Wait until she falls into deep sleep cycle. Infant sleep differs from the sleep of adults. Babies go in and out of light and deep sleep cycles approximately every ½ hour. If you want to put your baby into her bed, wait until she enters the deep sleep cycle. Watch your baby’s breathing to become shallow and regular, and her muscles to become loose. If she is breastfeeding, break the suction with your little finger and take your nipple gently out of her mouth. Don’t burp her, but carefully and gently move into her bassinet.
- Don’t cover your baby’s hands. During pregnancy, your baby’s hands helped him to self-sooth by sucking his thumb anytime he was uncomfortable. All of a sudden, after birth his hands were taken away from him and locked in mittens. Free his little old friends!
- Use every opportunity to have some sleep. Some studies show that on the second night many babies cluster feed from 9 pm to 3 am. Luckily, this means that your baby may fall into a prolonged sleep closer to morning. This is the time to have some well-deserved rest.
Believing and responding to your baby’s cues is one of the most important aspects of your new job of a mother. Trust your instincts. You know, inherently, what to do.
Do you have any memories of your second night? Was it similar to the one we have described? Share your story with us.