baby

Second night syndrome: the post-birth experience no one tells you about.

When you’re about to have a baby you’re prepared for certain things – like your water breaking, the possibility you might poo yourself in front of a room full of strangers and you’re going to be entirely responsible for the well being of a very small human.

But there’s one thing many parents-to-be aren’t prepared for. Second night syndrome – AKA the night from hell.

Most new parents know the first night with their baby is going to be a combination of absolute exhaustion, tearful happiness and a general feeling of ‘what the hell just happened?’.

But they have no idea what’s waiting for them around the corner on night two.

Basically, during their second night in the outside world, newborns realise they’re not in the womb anymore, they’re being cuddled by strangers, and they’re far away from their mum’s heartbeat.

According to Dr Elizabeth Smith from the University of Utah, babies fall into a deep sleep for the first 24 hours of their life and when they awaken from that, all hell breaks loose. Be prepared for crying (the baby)… more crying (you)… some screaming… and a very sleepless night.

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New parents might panic when they first come across second night syndrome and a breastfeeding mum might worry that her milk isn’t ‘in’ yet and their baby is starving – but this restless (and stressful) period is completely normal.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to prepare so second night syndrome doesn’t come as such a big shock.

Smith recommends you limit visits in the afternoon of the second day so you and your partner or support person have time to rest and prepare yourselves for that second night. Smith says you should also take the time to cuddle, nurse and interact with your baby to try to figure out what will make them feel safe and comfortable.

Smith also suggests ‘tag-teaming’ with your partner so one of you is looking after the baby while the other one has a short nap and vice versa.

Have you ever experienced second night syndrome? How did you get through it?

LISTEN: Taking your baby home from the hospital for the first time. 

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