The moment I found out I was pregnant with my second child I was in tears. These were tears of a combination of emotions: joy, happiness, fulfilment and panic. My husband and I always wanted two children, but we didn’t expect them to be 18 months apart. I knew it was going to be tough and that nothing can fully prepare you for a new human in your life, but being thrown into the deep end, for me, was the best preparation.
If you are expecting your second child, whether you planned it or not, there are a few things you can do to help you adjust to the change.
- Don’t forget that you are pregnant
Make time to enjoy your second pregnancy and take proper care of yourself. It is logical that your child is your number one priority and will consume all your energy and attention. But remember that you have another baby growing inside you that needs just as much care and attention. If you remember to eat, make healthy choices. Don’t forget to exercise. These are ways in which you are caring for yourself and your unborn baby and you’ll find that you might have more energy to play with your child.
- Have your family or trusted friends on stand-by for the big moment
The birth of a child is the most exciting time for family and friends. It is a day that should be treasured. And, oh, it is exhausting!! To reduce stress, have your mom, mother-in-law, sister and best friend on stand-by to take care of your little darling at home.
- Introduce your baby to your toddler, not the other way around
Make sure your baby is not in your hospital room when your toddler comes to visit. Let the nurse bring the baby to you and your toddler and introduce your baby to your child. Your toddler was there first, and still deserves to feel like your number 1.
- Ask for help when things get busy
Never be ashamed of the fact that you might have to call your mother, sister or best friend for help. If you want to witness a weapon of mass destruction, let your toddler loose while breastfeeding your newborn baby. Also remember that your toddler still needs the attention he deserves, so it is okay to hand your baby over to the nanny or a friend to tend to the needs of your older child.
- Have structure and routine
When things get busy, structure and routine is a life saver, especially for your older child. Children thrive on routine. They know what to expect and are willing to cooperate. It makes them feel safe and it gives them a sense of responsibility.
We all know that the only consistent thing about a newborn is inconsistency, but if you and the rest of your family have a structured day, things will most likely fall into place and your newborn will benefit from this.
- It is important to make sure your older child is an independent sleeper who sleeps through the night.
If you are still reading, you have experience with a newborn baby at night. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure you only have to get up for one child.
Having a new addition to our family has certainly been exciting… It has also been challenging, but it does get easier every day. Do not feel guilty for loving another tiny human, and remember that it is okay to sometimes “keep your eyes on the prize”, because your children will grow up and become more self-sufficient. Your babies will become friends and chase each other around the house. While this will come with its own challenges, it’s part of the next season’s adjustment. For now, extra cuddles for both children and good, sound sleep habits for those who can manage them are important for your long-term health and vitality.
By Magriet Rothman – Good Night Consultant