It feels like starting over again. You might’ve also heard from fellow mums that having a second baby (during pregnancy, giving birth, raising your second child) is totally different. It’s a new set of challenges and preparation seems rushed because time flies really fast.
To help you prepare and set some reasonable expectations, we’ll discuss a few important things that will make the transition a bit easier for you, your first child and your second baby. Let’s start.
Many mums report that their tummies got bigger in this pregnancy way faster compared to their first. That’s because the body was already “primed” for the next pregnancy and as a result it seems the tummy is getting bigger at a more rapid rate. This makes other people notice early that you’re pregnant and might even assume that months have already passed. It’s also possible that you feel the baby’s movement much earlier because of your increased awareness.
In addition, many mums also report feeling higher levels of pain and exhaustion. Perhaps the tiredness has something to do with age or lack of supplements (mum might be a lot busier now compared to the time of first pregnancy). When it comes to aches and pains, possible reason is that the joints get relaxed very quickly which can put some additional strain. It’s also possible that the baby is positioned lower in the abdomen (which can cause a back ache). It’s all normal and tolerable but if it’s alarming, contact your doctor right away. Other mums also report feeling those Braxton Hicks contractions much more often. It’s the body’s way of preparing for labour and those carrying their second child recognise those contractions more easily this time.
Labour and birth may take less time and might even feel a lot easier compared to the first time around. The body encountered all of it before which is why it’s better equipped for the second child. Perhaps you remember that your labour back then lasted for around 9 hours. This time it might be a lot shorter (could just be 6 hours).
However, the afterpains might feel worse because of the uterus clamping down much more quickly. It’s a way of reducing the chances of bleeding but the pain will be pronounced because of those contractions. It could be the result of the uterus having less muscle tone and to compensate for that, the contractions become more aggressive which often means worse pain. It’s also normal and tolerable but in a few alarming cases, you should call your doctor right away.
It’s overwhelming because most likely your first child is still young and needs care and attention. Giving enough care and attention to both of your children has a higher level of difficulty and challenge. This will surely test your time management skills, stamina and patience.
As with your first child, the initial 6 to 8 weeks is a very demanding time because of the odd hours and sleep deprivation. However, it gets a lot more challenging this time when you have your second baby in his or her first 6 to 8 weeks. Aside from losing hours of sleep caring for your second baby, you also have to think about your toddler (or even if he/she is older by a few years) who has a different set of wants and needs.
Good thing is that you already have the skills. You still remember that caring for your first child was also overwhelming and exhausting. You overcame the difficulty that time and probably you were surprised that it went on much quicker than you thought. It would be similar to caring for your second baby while minding your first child. This too shall pass and at the end of the day you’ll feel proud of what you’re capable of.
Sleepless nights, everyday struggles and tensions and a few concerns about the future of your two children will test your mind, body and emotions. You might experience those “baby blues” that will just pass in a few weeks. A few mums have experienced postpartum depression (worse mood and sleep problems will result). With the support of loved ones and the doctor, high depression and anxiety levels can also be overcome. To better cope during this transition of having a second child, it’s important to have someone assist you and also have that “me time” so that you won’t feel deprived and you’ll have time to consolidate all the several things that are happening to you at once. To get this “me time” and better manage the everyday tasks, having an assistant will greatly help (your partner, a relative or friend or even a weekly housekeeping service will help make things more manageable). It also helps to stick with quick dinners (i.e. foods that you can easily prepare) or consider ordering from restaurants (choose ones that can deliver to your home) so you can save more time.
Also don’t forget about your first child. Sibling rivalry is a real issue and your first child might feel some jealousy and resentment. Your first son or daughter might try to compete for attention (e.g. tantrums, refusing to eat, thumb sucking) because after all, your second baby will get more of your time and focus. To address these issues, it helps to smoothen the transition and warm up your first child’s mind about what’s about to happen (before your second baby arrives). You can explain to your first child about the new baby inside your womb and what is your first child’s role to the life of the second (e.g. being a big brother or sister, a new playmate). Most likely your first child will understand it and misbehaving will just be temporary. Your first child needs some time to adjust because this is also a new experience to him/her.
Yes, it’s overwhelming and this will surely put you to test. But after a few months or years, you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Well, it never gets easier and there are still challenging times ahead (especially your child reaching the toddler and teenage years). Good thing is right now you can enjoy this short period of 100% focusing on your baby. Time flies fast and this is actually a rare opportunity to be with your child almost every second of each day.