It's likely that at some point during those first few weeks of motherhood, you gazed at your tired reflection in the bathroom mirror, and exhaustedly muttered something along the lines of, “I am never doing this again.” Perhaps, as you dragged yourself back to bed, only to be greeted by your apparently near-starving newborn (who finished a one hour feed not five minutes ago), you even said the words aloud to your partner, as he stared at you from behind his glazed over, sleep-deprived eyes.
And yet, here you are, months, years or even over a decade later, thinking about extending your family by ten more little fingers, and ten more tiny toes. This time, however, it's not just your lifestyle you will have to think about. Gone are the days of wondering if you will miss the lavish couples holidays and the wild parties. This time, you'll be asking yourself how your first born will adapt, and how a second child will affect the family balance. Will your first born feel jealous or left out? Can you afford another baby? Does doubling the number of children also double the number of raisins hidden under the sofa cushions, and if so, where will you find the time to clean them all up?
Every family is different, and while some parents long for a football team of their own, others are content with just one child. There is no ‘right' number of children, and no formula that creates the perfect family life. Instead you must decide as a couple whether a second child is right for your family. Here are some of the pros and cons to think about during your discussions, starting with the possible reasons why NOT to have another baby:
The Cons Of Having Another Baby #1: It Will Be Tiring
Pregnancy, breastfeeding and looking after a young baby are all pretty tiring, so it stands to reason that this will be even more true when you are also caring for an older child. You may be balancing pregnancy fatigue or sleepless nights with the school run or your toddler's early mornings. You will inevitably be tired some (or most!) days.
The Cons Of Having Another Baby #2: Your First Child May Feel Left Out
Sadly, some children do feel left out when a second baby comes into the mix. The transition from only child to older sibling can be a tricky one, and you may find there is an adjustment period while everybody adapts to their new roles.
The Cons Of Having Another Baby #3: Your Time Will Be Split
Modern life is a juggling act, and a second child will be yet another ball for you to keep in the air. There are only so many hours in the day, and so it is inevitable that you will have less time to focus on each child individually. However, your children will have each other, and you will be able to spend time with them together as a family.
The Cons Of Having Another Baby #4: Sibling Rivalry
You may find that, at least at times, your children experience sibling rivalry or jealousy. They may compete for your attention, or feel that they must compete with each other to be ‘the best'.
The Cons Of Having Another Baby #5: You Will Become The Official Peace Keeper
Even the closest siblings in the world fight every now and then. Some days your children will love each other unconditionally, and other days they won't be able to stay in the same room as each other. They might call each other names, hurt each other's feelings and even have physical fights, and you may find yourself acting as the official mediator on these days.
The Cons Of Having Another Baby #6: You Get To Do It All Again
This one makes it onto both the pros and cons lists, because having another baby means you have to do it all again. You will, once again, find yourself battling against morning sickness, haemorrhoids and backache. You will endure sleepless nights, tender nipples and seemingly never ending feeds.
The Cons Of Having Another Baby: #7 It Can Be Expensive
While you may already have some of the items in your loft, there are certain expenses that can't really be avoided. You will need to buy twice as many nappies, cinema tickets, school uniforms and university educations. It may not cost you much in the short term, especially if you breastfeed and use washable nappies, but at some point you will find that having two children becomes more expensive than having just one.
And now for the positives to having another baby…
The Pros Of Having Another Baby #1: They Will Always Have Each Other
A sibling can be a lifelong friend. Long after you're gone, the siblings will still be able to rely on each other for friendship and support. Your children will have each other for the rest of their lives.
The Pros Of Having A Second Baby #2: They Will Look Out For Each Other
Siblings can look after each other, and will always have each other's back. Sadly, you won't always be able to protect your child, but a sibling can act as backup for when you're not around.
The Pros Of Having A Second Baby #3: They Will Keep Each Other Entertained
Not all the time, of course, but you may find yourself with a little extra free time as your children play together instead of with you. You won't need to take bags of toys to social events, or ask around for other children attending parties, because your children will be built-in buddies.
The Pros Of Having A Second Baby #4: It's Easier The Second Time
This is by no means science, but many parents feel that looking after a baby is easier the second time round. This could be because they've done it before, they feel more confident, or they simply have less time to sweat the small stuff because they're busy running around after their first child.
The Pros Of Having A Second Baby #5: You Get To Do It All Again
Perhaps you find yourself absent-mindedly staring at your older child and wondering how they got so big. You may miss the days of cuddling a newborn on the sofa, or carrying your baby in a sling. Having a second child will allow you to experience all of this again. From the wonder of pregnancy, the birth itself, the overload of the delicious hormone oxytocin (love and bonding hormone) and those cuddles with a beautiful squishy newborn, you'll be able to enjoy the wonder of new motherhood again.
The Pros Of Having A Second Baby #6: It Teaches Valuable Lessons
Having siblings is a great way to learn about conflict resolution and social interactions. Your child will also learn about love, compassion, respect and empathy by spending time with a younger sibling.
The Pros Of Having A Second Baby #7: You Will Have More Visitors In Your Nursing Home
This one is a joke. Sort of. But having more than one child allows the burden of caring for elderly parents to be spread out.
So, Should You Have Another Baby?
These are just some of the commonly discussed arguments for and against having a second child. The ones that affect your decision, will be unique to you. You may also find that your feelings are influenced by your relationship with your own siblings, or lack of siblings.
One common worry of parents trying to decide whether to have a second child, is whether they will be able to love a second child as much (see BellyBelly’s article, Loving Two, but have a tissue ready!). This fear is completely understandable, especially when you consider just how much you love your first child. But, in the same way that you were overwhelmed with love for your first child, you will be amazed at how strong and deep your love for your second child can be.