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When I gave birth. I was exhausted! For good reason obviously. Contractions started at 6PM Tuesday night, and she didn’t make her grand appearance until 1:15 AM Thursday morning!
I was impressed though, that she slept so good in the hospital! I thought man am I lucky!
That is when my friend with two older kids said, beware of the “second night syndrome!”
Of course, I thought she was joking. Or that it was just her kids. It wasn’t until we brought Sophia home, though, and we realized it is indeed a thing. I reached out to multiple parents and they all agreed it happened with them too!
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What is second night syndrome?
After all the hooplah, and the drugs have worn out of yours and baby’s system, the visitors have decided to let you get settled in first, and everything seems to be going okay, the second night that you’re home with your new bundle of joy seems. Like. Hell.
I remember at 3AM, it seemed like she had been crying for hours. And she had. We put her down in the bassinet and she didn’t like it! She wanted to be close to mom. She didn’t want to sleep, she was still learning how to latch right, and she didn’t want to lay down by herself and she would NOT stop crying! Finally my husband came out to both of us crying on the couch where he made me tea and consoled me. I remember asking him if we made the right decision because I didn’t think I could do it. Thankfully all other moms I knew had this exact same second night home.
All in all, second-night syndrome is the night of all hell after you get home from the hospital, where everything seems to fall apart, your baby doesn’t want to sleep, and your baby blues come to kick you in the ass!
Why does this happen?
Your baby has gone from a warm environment where they can hear everything that you do. The whooshing of your heartbeat, pumping of your blood vessels. Feeding comes automatically through a tube, not through learning how to suckle. He doesn’t need to worry about using the bathroom, where his next meal will come from, or anything. He can just sit back and relax. Then suddenly, they are forced out into the big, wide world.
Once out, they have natural instincts of course, but he, just like you, needs to learn how to breastfeed or bottle feed. He has to work on breathing. His lungs and immune system need to start developing. He goes from a hospital where he is being passed around like a beach ball from nurse to nurse to family member to family member.
He’s got so much to deal with, and so much to figure out! So, he becomes restless and cranky. Chances are, on the second night, the baby won’t sleep and cry a lot more than normal. It’s going to be hard for you as a mom. There is a great post on Kellymom that further describes second-night syndrome!
How to deal with second night syndrome
I can’t stress this enough. You have to remember that this is normal and it won’t last. It gets a little better every day.
You will have doubts:
You’ll question if you made the right choice. You did make the right choice, and these thoughts will go away. It will feel overwhelming at first, but you will get there!
Take any help you’re offered.
At first, I didn’t like the thought of people cleaning for me and doing laundry, but this made such a big help for me to be able to focus on my new baby. It also gave me a chance to nap. This made a huge difference. People, especially mom’s who have been there really want to help! It is so important to let them.
Take practical steps to help yourself before baby comes, if possible.
There are so many practical steps that you can take. Make sure to have your house as clean as you can manage before your baby comes. You can organize things in your house, and get the nursery completed. Make up some meals and put them in the freezer so that you can just warm it when you need to.
Don’t forget to take in enough food and water.
Why does this help? If you’re breastfeeding, it takes a lot of fluids out of you that you need to replenish. Even if you are not, you will be up all hours, tired, and possibly forgetting to eat. The nurses warned me about forgetting to eat, and it is so true. You are so worried about this little nugget that you forget to take care of yourself. Ensure you are getting enough to remain as healthy as possible.
Don’t forget to ask for help if you feel like you needed.
If no one offers to help, they might not know how or think they’re overstepping. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You’d be surprised how many people will line up to give you a hand!
Help baby learn how to cope on the outside.
Keep them warm, help them get used to the bassinet/crib, let them cluster feed. There’s no one thing they need though as much as they need time to adjust. Just remember this stage will not last and that it will get better soon! They literally need to learn how to function outside the womb, and they need their Mom or Dad to help with that!
Take turns taking care of the baby
You know the saying it takes two to tango? By taking turns, you both will get a break and some fresh perspective to help take care of the baby. It gives you a chance to reset and recharge. During the second night syndrome, it is usually a time when the baby cries more often than normal. By taking turns with the baby, you can take a breather which makes you more equipped to handle it.