That summer we had gone home starry-eyed with glee; a brand new 64″ television bouncing in the back of our car. But who cares about a TV? The dust hadn’t even accumulated on that thing before a teeeeny human bounced all the way home from the hospital for the very first time. But here’s the thing: only ONE came with an in-depth instruction manual. And you can guess which.
After bringing our baby home I was SHOCKED. We had done ALL the ‘preparing for baby’ things EVEN taken the classes (but I WISH I had taken THIS one). Yet that infamous first night home without newborn was…man, how to describe it? Exhausting beyond mortal comprehension, pushing all boundaries I had even known for stress, emotional stability, sleeplessness, and sanity.
NO ONE had warned us that when you bring baby home, that first night has an infamous name (that somehow we were completely unaware of):
“Second Night Syndrom“.
*Pause for a dramatic ‘BUM BUM BUM‘!!!*
And of course, this is when you have NO doctors, nurses or family around to help. It’s just you alone with this smaller-than-you-could-ever-imagine tiny screaming red-faced LIFE which you are ULTIMATELY responsible for. EEK!
That said, I am here to tell you (now having experienced the first night home from the hospital with a newborn a couple of times) that THERE IS STILL HOPE. More importantly, for all the new moms out there, you absolutely can prepare for that infamous night AND it doesn’t have to SUCK to the ultimate degree the universe has ever known.
- What I WISH I Had Known Before Bringing Baby Home
- How To Prepare Your Home For A Newborn: The Only Checklist You’ll Need To Prepare For Baby
- Preparing For Baby: What You NEED To Stockpile Before Baby Arrives!
- The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule, Must-Know Week By Week Tips
Preparing For Baby: How To Survive The Infamous First Night Home
1. What Is “Second Night Syndrome”?
The first day of baby’s birth is devoted to rest and recovery from all that labor and delivery craziness.
This is FANTASTIC news for momma who just spent more hours than an absolutely exhausted memory can recall, giving birth to a brand new human being. If you are fortunate enough to avoid over 56 hospital visits from staff that first 24 hours (I guess this is the statistic, but for us it felt like twice that many- I was ready TO KILL SOMEONE) and DO get some rest, be ready for a sleepless night number two.
During night number two, something crazy happens:
your newborn seems to be crying at optimal lung capacity no matter what you do. All. Night. Long. Breastfeeding doesn’t work, skin-to-skin, rocking, singing, pacing, and suddenly come the tears. What is happening? What are you doing wrong?
Coincidently, night number two of a baby’s life usually falls when brand new parents bring their newborn home from the hospital. For some, this can also be night number three. This is “Second Night Syndrom”.
2. The Reality Of Bringing Baby Home
Second Night Syndrome is a theory but one that has been proven to be VERY true with both of our children. And a fact that has happened to countless mommies all over the world.
Here’s the jist: your baby has slept like a rock after going through labor and now is realizing the world is MUCH different than he or she remembered. New smells, sights, and sounds are bombarding the senses and overwhelming your little one.
Some mommies may think it’s the delay in breastmilk. But the truth is, a newborn’s stomach is only the size of a cherry and can hold very little. But, it is good to cover your bases.
Here’s a list of things on the short-term to try when your baby is inconsolable that first night home (pin this post now to remember this):
- 8 – 12 feedings in a 24/hour period. Make sure your baby has been fed and is not crying out of hunger. Keep a log and be sure to wake your baby every 2 hours to nurse or formula feed. This means trying to keep them awake! Put a cold washcloth on those little toes or change that diaper.
- When in doubt, self-express in a tablespoon and give breastmilk via sterile syringe. With breastfeeding, intake is almost impossible to measure. AND breastfeeding can be SO INCREDIBLY hard! It’s okay to self-express and make sure your little one is getting enough. This too shall pass. You will get the hang of it.
- Log all wet and poopy diapers. The best way to know if your newborn is getting what he or she needs is through the output. During that second night, if you don’t have a log, there’s really no way of knowing if your baby is truly just hungry. Usually, that’s not the case but having some sort of evidence is helpful and comforting.
Speaking, of – here’s a free, cute little baby tracker checklist for you to make that a little easier and oddly satisfying for fellow checklist lovers (and yes, I know I just said that tracking baby poop can be oddly satisfying).
3. How To Make Bringing Baby Home For The First Night LESS Terrifying
Coming home with a brand new baby, one’s life and wellbeing that I was solely responsible for was terrifying. Labor and delivery was terrifying. Postpartum recovery and healing after birth was terrifying. As a first time mom, there are SO MANY unknowns.
One thing helped alleviate all those fears: a kick-ass prenatal course. Now, I’m not saying you will be skipping for joy, basking in rainbows just waiting for your baby to arrive with ZERO fears. BUT, you will know what to expect and you will have a game plan. That helped me tremendously.
If there is a prenatal course provided by your hospital, try to take it. I did and it was helpful (although the nurse kept SKIPPING the dang videos because ‘they didn’t seem to be working’.). However, there is a course I’ve found that is WAY better AND I was able to take it at my own pace without taking work off and booking an entire weekend out of my schedule.
Hilary Erickson’s is an RN with over 16 years experience in labor and delivery. She’s kind, considerate, a mom herself, knowledgeable and to-the-point. She’s been teaching prenatal courses for years. Her class includes everything you’ll need to prepare for baby, including how to care for a newborn and how to endure bringing baby home. Learn from a professional and check out her course here: The Online Prenatal Course.
4. Prepare A PLAN With Your Spouse
Have a game plan with your spouse. I can’t emphasize this enough. Caring for an inconsolable newborn every 45 minutes all night long is excruciating, but it’s easier if you have help. Most importantly, it’s even better when both of you know you’ll be up all night AND have a game plan. Additionally, besides your spouse, you can ask for help from a postpartum doula or family.
Try NOT to default to “I-can-do-it-all-myself” mode. I operate that way by default as well. This was the most difficult hurdle to overcome after bringing a newborn home. I couldn’t do it all myself. It was physically and emotionally pushing me past healthy limits. Prepare help ahead of time.
I’ve heard new daddies say, “Well, she’s breastfeeding so there’s nothing I could do to help!” I’ve even spoken to a desperate new daddy who was told this by his wife. I could feel the regret in his voice: he felt left out and separated. He’d wanted to help.
Here’s what you can do:
- Prepare to get up a lot..like every 45 minutes.
- Have daddy change the diaper while mommy wakes up, grabs the boppy and get’s situated to breastfeed (because breastfeeding can be SO hard those first few weeks).
- Neither of you sit in bed. This will prevent either of you from falling asleep. Prepare a nursing corner with mommy sitting in the rocking chair. Watch some Netflix together and daddy can help keep the baby awake enough to feed. That can mean grabbing a cold washcloth or wiggling those feet to wake up your newborn.
- Put the baby back in the bassinet together and go back to sleep
Hopefully, you can tackle things together at least the first week if daddy has paternity leave or can be home to help. (If not, I would strongly advise doing this with a family member). There is the idea of “one of us should at least get some sleep”. So the mommy gets ZERO sleep for all eternity and daddy gets to snooze. This lop-sided responsibility comes with some dangerous consequences: loneliness, anger, resentment and can lead to some not so fun feelings.
5. Prepare A Postpartum Recovery Kit
One of the BEST ways to care for another being is to first care for yourself. My mom told me, “First care for yourself, then care for your baby and that’s all you need to focus on right now.” It was some of the very best advice I had received after bringing baby home from the hospital. Because if YOU aren’t cared for, it’s nearly impossible to mentally and physically care for a newborn who needs everything from you. And that new baby needs a strong momma, so he or she can be strong as well.
Ultimately I’ve found, now having two babies, that a ‘postpartum kit’ (basically just a very basic supply of postpartum recovery items) tremendously helps speed the recovery and comfort process. With our first baby, I depended on the hospital for these things and that was a BIG mistake. I was terrified of labor and delivery but I should have been more anxious of the postpartum recovery process AFTER having a baby! It’s hard.
For baby number two, I MADE SURE to have a little basket in our bathroom with these 10 things. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this made: no stress, faster recovery, more comfort.
Prepare your kit at least in your third trimester. Here are 10 absolutely necessary items:
- Very quickly, you will run out of those giant pads from the hospital. You also (like me) may not have been madly in love with them. Stock up on Always Maxi (overnight extra heavy flow with wings). Always Maxi Overnights are the BEST heavy pads I used. However, I personally dislike wings and pads that go up my butt. So, when I could, I would cut off the wings. Since then, I’ve found Natracare extra heavy flow pads. They are very similar to the hospital pads I received (it seem hospitals give out various types). With a pack of 10 for around $5, they are worth trying to see what you like.
Another alternative to consider based upon your preference (some hospitals seem to give out these as well): Curity Maternity Pad Heavy
- When you want to downgrade from that GIANT super soaker pad, I found Stayfree Maxi‘s were the BEST option (I tried 5 OTHER brands!). In the end, I used 4 bags total of the Stayfree Maxi Regular Pads for my postpartum recovery in total. These were the best overall pads I used.
Another alternative to consider based upon your preference: Always Always Maxi Pads 24ct Regular Non-Wing Unscented.
- You will also run out of those gauzy, ugly as heck but amazing disposable underwear the hospital gives you. Or they may give you none. Save yourself the trouble and buy your own postpartum maternity (post-surgical) disposable underwear just like the hospital has.
- The hospital also gives you this cheapo little bottle to squirt warm water down there every single time you go to the bathroom called a peri bottle. It sucks and it’s not an option. However, there is a MUCH better alternative. Fridababy makes a peri-bottle called the Fridet with a nozzle specifically designed to be held upside down, giving you much more control with each use.
- Also, the hospital provided Tucks Medicated Healing Pads to place directly on the maxi pad for relief. They are little round (3″) pads with witch hazel and I cannot tell you how much they relieved the burning and itching. Ah-mazing.
- When you want to graduate into actual underwear (and ditch the diaper feel) I would advise having a pack of ridiculously comfortable underwear on hand like these boy short boxer brief panties. Postpartum, I was thanking God that I had those boy short underwear. I liked how they didn’t ride up and they were super comfortable.
- The postpartum pad finale: a liner that’s not paper thin. Buy one box of Carefree Original pads. You may have used this little pink box in your “Hello God, It’s Me Margeret” days but they are still fantastic.
Another alternative to consider based upon your preference: Carefree does make a new pad called “Acti-Fresh.” I haven’t tried them, but they seem to be a good postpartum pad finale as well.
- First off, I know those DIY “padsicles” are like all the rage but I’ve been there, done that and they were TERRIBLE (in my personal experience). If I wanted to freezer burn my painfully injured vagina then padsicles would definitely be the way to go. On the other hand, when I wanted actual pain relief and comfort, these medicated cooling pads (like they have at the hospital) were MUCH better!
- When you leave the hospital, chances are you will receive Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray and you will be thankful as heck. The nurse told me, “Never forget to use this each and every time you go to the bathroom.” The problem is, that’s a lot of spraying so we had to go out and find two additional cans. Save yourself the hassle and have it ready beforehand! I can’t stress this enough. Another similar spray gaining momentum is Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray. It’s a more natural product and smells super nice. I bought one of each and liked both. The Dermoplast does have that “icy” pain-relieving feel though.
- Prepare to have sitz baths. They are SUPER healing and fantastic for postpartum recovery. Buy a simple plastic cover that sits neatly over your toilet like this top Amazon sitz bath by Yunga Tart and use a high-quality Epsom salt made specifically for these types of baths like Epsoak Epsom Salt (which is Amazon’s #1 choice). I linked the large bag because sitz baths are usually recommended 2-3 times a day! That’s a lot of Epsom salt.
RELATED (top postpartum posts to seriously help you prepared for postpartum recovery):
10 Unbelievable Postpartum Recovery Tips For Healing After A Vaginal Birth
5 Shocking Truths: What Postpartum Recovery Is Really Like
6. Make “You” Time
The most natural thing for us mommies seems to be putting ALL THINGS before ourselves. We all do it. I’ve heard an example that helps put this point into perspective:
Imagine a glass full of water. This is you, momma but imagine that glass pouring itself out into all the other things you need to take care of. Especially, imagine other glasses that represent your most loved ones: your husband, sweet baby, child, family and/or dear friends. That’s a lot of glasses to fill! Quickly, your glass will empty. This leaves you drained, with nothing left to give.
This is you at the point where you are BURNT OUT. You find yourself standing in a shower that has run cold, days feel pointless, you don’t know how you are going to keep going, guilt may overwhelm you, life feels lonely and so much more. You are pouring all of yourself out.
Now, imagine a glass full of water with MORE water being poured into it. What happens? That glass OVERFLOWS to all the other glasses touching it.
Be the glass overflowing to those around you and for those you love most. Pour into yourself. Take time for what YOU need. Workout, drink water, take a multi-vitamin, make sure you are going to your dentist, eye doctor and OB. Go out with your friends. Find what YOU need, make that known to your significant other and/or family and work to make that possible. This doesn’t have to cost you a zillion dollars. Which brings me to my next point:
7. Ask For Help
Swap childcare with another couple that has kids. Yes, it may be scary but go out on a limb and TRY it! That’s if you can’t afford a babysitter. Ask family to help. Hire a postpartum doula. Have a “come to Jesus” moment with your spouse and get on the same page with who does what, when. ALL successful women in the world have at least ONE thing in common. THEY ALL have help. All of them.
This Too Shall Pass
It’s hard. Being a mommy is the hardest thing I’ve EVER experienced. I thought a high school boyfriend of eight years leaving me for someone else was HARD. I thought traveling all alone to attend college was HARD. I thought trying to finish college was HARD. I thought pushing myself to get that ultimate career was HARD. I thought working my ass off to be the best at that career was HARD. I thought marriage was HARD. Okay…well, that’s pretty hard too.
But none of that was as hard as being a brand new mom.
Don’t worry, momma. This too shall pass. The moments kissing those soo tiny fingers, holding that itty bitty snuggly little warm baby weight against you, seeing that smile for the very first time…
Those moments will be gone. And they will pass quickly. Three months is statistically the hardest time for a new mommy. And you will blink, suddenly realizing they are gone. It may not feel like it now or while you are experiencing the excruciating sleeplessness that may seem endless. But these tears will be forgotten eventually.
Cherish those teeny baby toes and try to focus on that new beautiful love you have found in your life. And congratulations, mommy on your new little life <3. You’ve got this. You are SO strong.