You may know more of what to expect when you’re expecting second time around – but some strategies can help when you’re juggling a bump with a small person
Your toddler may’ve chosen a nickname for your baby and been talking to your bump already (great for bonding…) but, from a physical point of view, pregnancy can be tough when you have other kids.
It’s about using your support network and listening to your body – whether it’s that you’re feeling bleurgh or just can’t play pirates with the same energy.
You feel sick
First time around you could bury your head in the toilet every time you felt queasy, but it’s not always do-able with a child running around. So think ahead.
‘If you’re going out, avoid those grab-and-go foods you get from petrol stations and so on – anything high fat is harder to digest so may make you feel sicker or give you heartburn,’ says Colette Boyd-Terry from private midwifery service My Own Midwife.
‘Pack carb or protein-based snacks like dry biscuits or cooked chicken. They’re easier for your body to take and less likely to make you feel unwell. It’s all about grazing.’
And don’t worry about telling your toddler you feel a bit unwell. Suggest he chooses something you can do quietly together or a game that’s more easy-going.
Suggest your toddler chooses something you can do quietly together or a game that’s more easy-going
You find it hard to pick him up
Realistically, you’re not not going to carry your toddler, so it’s just about doing it in a way that’s safe.
‘In pregnancy, your hormones cause your ligaments to relax as your body prepares for birth, which means your muscles are less supported,’ explains Colette. ‘And as your centre of gravity changes, it can put pressure on your lower back.’
So, while it’s wise to avoid lifting if you have a history of back problems, in other cases make a conscious effort to bend your legs and keep your back straight as you go down. ‘Don’t over lift and do listen to your body – if you feel comfortable, great, but if not, don’t push it,’ says Colette.
And perhaps tell him what a grown-up or big brother he is now, and that he can walk to show the baby in your tummy how it’s done.
Remember how people told you to prioritise your sleep when he was a baby? Time to do it again.
‘Women often find it easier to sleep in the day than at night during pregnancy, so nap while your toddler’s with childcare or ask if someone can babysit for a few hours,’ says Colette.
And if you need an energy boost, exercise can be surprisingly helpful. With or without your toddler, a swim is always going to wake and refresh you.
He's coming into your bed
Sleep can be difficult at the best of times during pregnancy, especially if you’re getting a new addition to the bed.
Sleep can be difficult at the best of times during pregnancy, especially if you’re getting a new addition to the bed
‘It's a tricky time when your little one is aware that a new member of your family is imminent, so night visits might suddenly start because of insecurities or worries about the new baby,’ says Fi Star-Stone, author of The Baby Bedtime Book: Say Goodnight To Sleepless Nights.
If you're not a co-sleeper and are used to your own space at night, Fi recommends a gentle back-to-bed technique.
‘Take him back to his bed and give him a big cuddle. Sit for a minute reassuring him, then leave the room telling him you'll see him in the morning,’ she says. ‘If he comes back for another visit, repeat the technique. It’s all about talking him through what’s happening and reassurance.’
You want to prepare him
OK, so it’s more of a lifestyle than a physical aspect of pregnancy, but getting your toddler ready for a new baby now can help him settle into a new routine when his brother or sister arrives.
‘There are great books about babies – my favourite is There’s A House Inside My Mummy,’ says Fi. ‘Once you’ve read together, your child can sit back and look through the pictures to take it in at his own pace.’
Try not to overdo the baby talk around your toddler, although definitely make him feel included by perhaps letting him choose something for the nursery.
‘If possible, spend time with friends or family who have young babies so your little one can interact with them,’ suggests Fi. ‘Talk about what babies need, how they sleep or feed a lot, so that when his sibling comes, he's prepared for his or her size.’
What helped you in your second, third or fourth pregnancy? Let us know on the comments board below.