When I had my first baby, no one told me about "second night syndrome." I brought home a sleepy, peaceful angel from the hospital and then, as the sun went down, all hell broke loose. She literally cried and nursed all damn night long. I didn't sleep and started to seriously doubt my ability as a mother. I'm not sure how we survived, because that night almost broke me. The next time around I knew what to expect, and while it was still hard, there were a few things that helped me survive second night syndrome.
In the past eight years, I've learned that some of your best "new parent" purchases are the things you least expect to want or need. When our daughter was born, I was certain I'd never co-sleep, formula-feed, or use pacifiers. Then, you know, life happened. My milk didn't come in right away, and I didn't make enough when it eventually did. My daughter cried all night long during her second night of life and, as a result, no one got any sleep. The next day my mom went out and bought my partner and I a co-sleeper that attached to the bed. Best gift ever.
Over the next week I learned that it's OK, and sometimes necessary, to supplement with formula. Not only would it not hurt breastfeeding, it would make my life a whole lot easier in the long run. I also learned that nipple confusion is a myth and pacifiers, well, can really help pacify your baby. So, what helped me survive the second night? Read on for some ideas so you don't have to learn the hard way, like I did.
A Baby Carrier
When my daughter was a few days old, I bought my first baby carrier. I liked it so much that I immediately bought another. In fact, I have to admit that buying carriers has become addictive, which is bad for my bank account but awesome for you guys, because I've pretty much tried them all.
In my honest opinion, if you are going to be pacing your room with your baby on their second night, you should make your life easier by carrying them in a stretchy wrap or ring sling to keep your hands free.
Since you are going to wake up several times a night to feed your baby, consider getting a co-sleeper. I have one that attaches to the side of my bed for easy, "so exhausted that you can't see straight" access, and so I can safely return my baby to his favorite sleeping position after he's done eating.
Bonus? A co-sleeper also allows you to stare adoringly and/or anxiously at your little angel when they finally fall asleep, because that's how the second night works, my friends.
A White Noise Machine
Before I tried it, I honestly thought that white-noise-helping-babies-sleep thing was just a myth (and a little creepy). However, it turns out babies freaking love it. Well, at least all of mine have. I am totally willing to be creeped out every night if it means my baby will sleep for a significant amount of time. Seriously.
My babies loved being swaddled, and I don't blame them. I am totally a snuggler, too, and especially when it comes to stealing the covers from my partner and wrapping myself up like a giant burrito. For my babies, I love the muslin swaddling blankets, because you can use them pretty much all year round for a variety of other purposes — from burp cloth to sun shade.
I was so pissed at my mom when she suggested we buy some formula and bottles "just in case." She was right, though. As it turns out, not only is supplementing with formula before your milk comes in not harmful to breastfeeding, according to one 2013 study published in Pediatrics, it can actually promote longer term breastfeeding. Who knew? I advise all new moms to buy a pack of formula nursettes, just in case. If you don't need them to get through your second night, they make great donations to a food pantry or women's shelter.
OMG my nipples hurt so bad after eight hours of continuous breastfeeding. It sucked, pun freakin' intended. My lactation consultant recommended non-lanolin-based nipple cream. It made a huge difference.
I never understood the need to use a pacifier, until I had a baby and became a human version of one. Literally, you guys. She wanted to suck on my nipples all day and all night long. Then, she discovered a pacifier and gave my nipples (and me) a break. I love you pacifiers. Love.
A Nursing Pillow
Holding a baby in your arms, on your lap, or on a pile of thin hospital pillows might feel fine at first, but after a couple of hours your arms get so tired and sore. Give your arms and back a break by investing in a good nursing pillow and bringing it with you to the hospital. You're welcome.
It's OK to have a glass of wine on your second night as a new mom. I promise. As long as you're not on massive doses of pain killers, it might help you relax and feel like you can make it through baby's second night of live. Not enough alcohol will enter your breast milk to impact your baby, and as long as you either know your limits or have another adult on hand to help, you definitely might benefit from your own type of bottle.