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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Second Night

I was able to sign-up for ilactation's Heart-to-Heart Online conference earlier this year.  Learning about breastfeeding is never-ending.  There are regular researches and updates and I am pretty happy that there are providers which allow advocates like myself to listen and learn online, in the comfort of my own home or while commuting.

The focus of this post is one of the topics - The Second Night, presented by Jan Barger.  It is in relation to my other post, Solutions to the Challenging First Week.  New parents are often overwhelmed by the abrupt change in their routine and lifestyle when baby comes.  However let us not forget the baby - whose new environment is totally different from the mother's womb.

So what is "The Second Night"?  Jan Barger is a nurse and IBCLC who has an education company - Lactation Education Consultants.  She identifies this phenomenon as an event recognized worldwide but is not yet documented in literature.   The event occurs about 24 hours after the birth (or sometimes even beyond that) when the baby always wants to be at the breast, falls asleep at the breast and wakes up when removed from the breast and only seems to be content when attached to the breast.

Why is this a concern? Because by the time "second night" sets in, mom is usually exhausted as the adrenalin from the birth has worn up.  Mom is also more vulnerable to suggestions from people around her that baby is still hungry and her milk has not come in or her milk is not enough.

Barger explains that beyond these superficial concerns, second night is really about the changes in the newborn's surrounding -- when baby is at the breast, baby is closest to the womb which provides a semblance of prenatal life:

The baby needs the mom to cope with overstimulation.  Barger explains how baby is constantly at the breast to mimic how it was in the womb.  She then shares insight on how the amniotic fluid is the same as the body odor and how the baby can use this to comfort himself. 


Second night is not limited to the actual second night after the baby's birth.   This phenomenon also happens weeks or even months after the baby's birth, when baby is already at home.  Coping at home is more difficult as the mother begins to doubt her capabilities.  Furthermore, in the Philippines, we are usually surrounded by extended family members who do not help with their comments about giving formula milk to the baby.


What should a mother do?  Keep baby close to you.  Shut out the naysayers.  Read, read read.  Here is very interesting slide from Jill Bergman, another presenter from ilactation:
There is a world of difference in the warmth provided by lactating breasts v. non-lactating.  It is understandable that why a breastfeeding baby would want to be always held by the mom as compared to a formula fed baby.  Aside from the fact that the formula fed baby is lethargically full (did you know that cows have 4 stomachs while humans only have 1 which is why it taxes your baby's body to digest the heavier protein in cow's milk), the formula fed baby scientifically does not feel the same warmth on the mother's chest as shown by the thermal images above. 

If you are having breastfeeding difficulties, the solution is NOT to switch to formula BUT to get help. In case you're interested, ilactation has an upcoming conference - Let's talk breastfeeding and human milk - which will open in 15 September 2014.  The fees vary per country and if you're from the Philippines, the fee is $35 for early bird registration which opens on 23 July 2014.  If you can come up with a group of 6 individuals, early bird registration is just $25.  Meanwhile, watch out for my next post on L.A.T.C.H.'s BUMP2014!

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