Updated: May 31
Have you heard of “Second Night Syndrome?” If you’re an expecting parent, knowing this information could be a game changer for preparing for your little one’s arrival. Bonsie spoke with Taylor Bonacolta RN, BSN, CLC about how to get ready for your baby’s second night in your arms.
Spoiler: Get ready for lots of skin-to-skin time!
What is the Second Night Syndrome?
Many babies experience a more difficult night the second night after they are born. This is what coined the term "second-night syndrome." Babies are often very sleepy the first day after birth. They may be difficult to awaken for feedings and sleep most of the time. However, by the second day, your baby is waking up more and becoming aware of the fact that they aren't in their cozy womb anymore. Everything is loud, bright, and cold.
Your baby craves your warmth, the sound of your heartbeat, and the comfort of mom.
Your baby may want to cluster feed and be on the breast all night. Although exhausting, this is great for helping bring in your breast milk and your milk supply. You may notice that your baby falls asleep as soon as you start nursing. This is normal and to be expected. You may also notice that your baby sleeps perfectly in your arms, but the moment you lay them down they start to cry again. This all goes back to your baby wanting to be close to you.
What can moms do to best support their newborns during this time?
The best tip for supporting your baby (and yourself!) is anticipating it and preparing yourself mentally. If you know what to expect and understand why it's happening, you'll be able to better meet your baby's needs (and yours too).
Skin-to-skin is one of the best ways to support your newborn during their second night.
Skin-to-skin provides many incredible benefits to both baby and mom. Other great ways to support your newborn include attempting to recreate the womb. Consider bringing a sound machine to the hospital and keeping the lights dim. And allow your baby to nurse at the breast whenever they wish.
Why is skin-to-skin contact particularly beneficial during the second night?
Skin-to-skin is incredibly soothing to your baby. It helps release oxytocin which is considered the "love hormone." This helps calm and relax mom and baby and helps with the mom's milk supply. Skin-to-skin helps regulate your baby's heart rate, breathing, and temperature. Your baby is also familiar with your scent which is comforting to them. All of these things help your baby to better adapt to life outside the womb.
How can partners support mom and their baby during this time?
Partners can help support the new mom by taking shifts in the night. If the mother becomes completely exhausted and needs a break, partners may also be able to provide skin-to-skin to support and calm the baby. Partners may also be able to help by limiting visitors the first two days after their baby is born. When the baby is sleeping, the new parents should also be trying to rest.
Other info and advice:
Second-night syndrome can be exhausting and leave new parents feeling panicked that this is their new normal. It does get better!
Knowing what to expect can help you be more understanding and calm as you conquer the night.
Your baby will gradually adjust to this new big world and you will eventually settle in together.
More about Taylor:
Taylor Bonacolta is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, the founder of June and Lily, and mama of three little ones. She has been a nurse for eight years and started her career in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and worked with babies and new mothers in the NICU for many years. Taylor provides education and support for new moms on all things breastfeeding and baby care.