From the moment you peed on the stick (which you probably did whilst your toddler simultaneously banged on the bathroom door, scribbled on the hallway wall, and mashed banana into the carpet) you knew this pregnancy would be different. Long gone are the days of getting enough rest, not lifting anything heavy, and taking long baths at night to de-stress.
As you embark on your second pregnancy, you will also be dealing with the pressures of motherhood, and that means you simply won’t be able to put your own needs first all of the time. The pregnancy might fly by as you find yourself kept busy with your existing children.
As you try to juggle pregnancy, motherhood, work duties, your relationship and social commitments, you may find yourself wondering how on earth you are going to keep all of the balls in the air. Here are some top tips to help you survive a second pregnancy:
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #1: Set Realistic Expectations
The first thing you need to do is adjust your expectations. If you are looking after small children, then this is unlikely to be the luxurious pregnancy (by comparison) you had last time. You will still be doing the school run, dealing with toddler tantrums and scooping poops out of the bath. Don’t expect this pregnancy to be the same as the last, it will be different, so give yourself a break.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #2: Take Time Out For You
This might be easier said than done, especially if there are small children in your house, but it is important to make time for yourself.
Pregnancy is physically demanding, and you simply won’t be able to keep going at your pre-pregnancy speed. Growing a baby can also be mentally and emotionally exhausting, so you need to make sure you invest in yourself. Spending even just 10 minutes each day relaxing may help to reduce stress levels and allow you to get a better night’s sleep. A weekly prenatal yoga class can help you to stay in shape, meet other expectant mums and equip you with breathing techniques to use during labour.
Here are some more ways to help reduce stress during pregnancy.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #3: Understand Your Child
Again, easier said than done – especially if you’re in the midst of toddlerhood, but it’s important to understand how your child might feel about the pregnancy. Even if they can’t verbalise their feelings, they will surely be sensing that something is different. Don’t mistake ‘acting out’ as your child simply trying to be annoying – usually this sort of behaviour is a call for help with their feelings.
A new baby can be very exciting, but it can also be unnerving, scary and a little worrisome. Your child is bound to have some concerns about the arrival of a new sibling, and understanding what these are will help you to better support your child during this time.
Depending on the age of your child, you may be able to simply ask about these feelings, or may need to resort to guess work. Make sure your child knows it’s ok to express his feelings about the new baby, even if they are not positive feelings.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #4: Involve Your Child
One way of encouraging a smooth transition from only child to older sibling, is to involve your child in the pregnancy. From attending scans, feeling the baby kick, and helping choose special items for the baby, there are plenty of ways to help your child get excited about the new baby.
Buy age-appropriate books explaining pregnancy, birth and babies, and spend time reading them together.
BellyBelly has a list of great books for children here.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #5: Accept Help
You won’t win any prizes for getting to the finish line all by yourself – you’ll just feel exhausted and perhaps resentful. If you have family and friends offering to help out with childcare, grocery shopping and tidying the house, saying yes will make your life just that little bit easier. If you haven’t received any offers, don’t be afraid to ask those around you if they can help out from time to time.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #6: Get Your Partner Involved
Whatever your current family dynamic, another child will mean more work for each of you parents. You may find that your partner takes over certain duties that have previously been your domain. For example, school drop offs in the morning might be tricky with a newborn, so your partner might offer to help out. Don’t be afraid to get into this new routine early, it will give your child time to adapt to the changes (and give you time to have lie ins, of course).
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #7: Carve Out Special Time With Your Child
If you’re falling asleep during stories, struggling to get up in the morning, and snapping at your child throughout the day, you might be feeling like a terrible mother. Don’t worry, you’re not – far from it. You’re already a fantastic mother to all of your children – both existing and soon-to-arrive.
Growing a baby is exhausting, and it is likely to take some of your energy away from parenting. To stop yourself feeling guilty about your new parenting style (napping), carve out some special time each week to spend with your child. Find something you both love, and invest time in doing it together. This will help to reassure your child of their place in the family, as well as reminding you what an amazing mother you are.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #8: Bond With Your New Baby
Remember that first pregnancy, how you spend hours just talking to your bump? Well, truth be told you probably won’t do that much this time. Second pregnancies feel much faster than first pregnancies, and the weeks are probably flying by without you have much time to tell your bump all about your hopes and dreams.
That said, however, bonding is important, and it’s never too early to start. This task doesn’t need to take much time, even just five minutes a week spent looking through a pregnancy app can help you to focus on your developing baby.
Juggling Pregnancy and Motherhood Tip #9: Let Go Of The Guilt
The single most important thing you must do is let go of the guilt. This is a second (or more!) pregnancy, and that’s a whole different ballgame to a first pregnancy. You are now balancing your needs against those of your child, and that’s no easy task. You might struggle to find the time to just sit in silence talking to and stroking your bump – and that’s ok.