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After the rigors of labor and birth, most babies settle in for a restful first 24 hours outside the womb.
And then there’s the second night.
On the second night, babies often nurse on and off for hours. Many new parents are caught off guard by this pattern, and some assume that their babies are starving. But it’s likely just an awakening, after a nice day’s rest, to the fact that their world is now very different!
If you’re home on your baby’s second night, it may also be the first time that your baby and you have some peace and quiet, as research has shown that mothers and babies are interrupted by hospital staff, visitors, and phone calls an average of 54 times on the first day, and the average time mothers and babies have alone is 1 minute.
Research has shown that feedings on this second night tend to cluster in the 9 pm to 3 am time frame. This can be unnerving. What do you do? Lactation consultant Jan Barger has some good advice in her piece, “Baby’s Second Night:”
So, what do you do? When he drifts off to sleep at the breast after a good feed, break the suction and slide your nipple gently out of his mouth. Don’t move him except to pillow his head more comfortably on your breast. Don’t try and burp him – just snuggle with him until he falls into a deep sleep where he won’t be disturbed by being moved. Babies go into a light sleep state (REM) first, and then cycle in and out of REM and deep sleep about every ½ hour or so. If he starts to root and act as though he wants to go back to breast, that’s fine…this is his way of settling and comforting.
Another helpful hint…babies need to touch – to feel – and even his touch on your breast will increase your oxytocin levels which will help boost your milk supply! So take the mittens off and loosen his blanket so he can get to his hands. He might scratch himself, but it will heal very rapidly – after all, he had fingernails when he was inside you, and no one put mittens on him then!
So don’t panic, just settle in for that special, second night!