Family growth is definitely exciting but also quite overwhelming. With a new addition to the family on the way, you must be brimming with questions, expectations and maybe even some fears. Here are some helpful tips on how to get ready as you begin this new chapter in your life.
Gearing Up For Family Growth
How Is Pregnancy Different the Second Time Around?
While the broad strokes of pregnancy will remain the same, your awareness of the changes in your body will be different the second time around. You’re no longer a newbie; you’ve learned from your first pregnancy and are thus more attuned to the changes your body undergoes as well as your needs.
In general, your baby bump will be more noticeable because your abdominal muscles are much looser during your second pregnancy. This also means your fetus is situated lower in your abdomen than before. This is good news because it means you can breathe and eat more easily compared to the first time. You will have more back pain and feel the urge to urinate more frequently as the baby presses against your bladder.
To avoid those annoying back aches, consult your doctor and ask if you can do some prenatal exercises to strengthen your back and core as your pregnancy progresses. Also, get ready to bust out your maternity clothes much earlier than before.
Many mothers feel a lot more tired during the second pregnancy. This is probably because they already have an active child to raise and therefore have less time to rest. Make sure to reduce your activities and give yourself more me-time. Don’t feel shy about calling on friends and relatives to give you a hand once in a while so you can have a minute to yourself.
A lot of things will remain the same. If you had morning sickness during your first pregnancy, you’ll likely have it again. The same goes for constipation, hemorrhoids and stretch marks. The great news? Now you know what happens to your body when you’re pregnant, you can take preventive measures early and manage your body better. With more awareness, you’ll be less nervous and will be more prepared.
Another upside to being more aware of your pregnancy is you’ll feel your baby’s movements much earlier than before. This is because you’re more familiar with the sensations. Feel that little miracle growing inside you and look forward to the months ahead!
Baby Stuff: What Items Can Be Reused?
Diaper bags, strollers, cribs and breast pumps are just some of the things your baby will need. Family growth means preparing for your impending arrival by getting your baby things out of storage. Rather than buying new gear and spending a ton of money, here are some items you can reuse:
Diaper Bag, Fabric Gear, Plastic Gear and Toys
Fabric gear includes clothes and cloth diapers which are all safe to reuse. Plastic gear such as potties and potty seats can also be reused as long as there are no cracks. Just make sure you clean and sanitize all these things thoroughly.
Crib, High Chair, Stroller and Bouncers
If your first child is old enough to have outgrown his old stuff, you can reuse the crib, high chair and bouncers. Check if all the gear is still in good shape. Are all the parts still working? Do the locks hold? Are there loose or rusty screws? It might be cheaper to have parts repaired or replaced. Some products might have been recalled or no longer pass new standards of safety. Make sure to do your research. You might need to buy new stuff or open a registry but you can’t put a price on your baby’s safety!
Breast Pumps and Baby Bottles
When reusing breast pumps, replace the parts that have been in contact with milk such as the tubing and flanges. For baby bottles, just replace the rubber nipple. Cloudy bottles aren’t an issue as BPA-free plastic are usually cloudy even when they’re brand new. Wash and sanitize these products before using.
As long as the model hasn’t been recalled, just replace the batteries in your baby monitor and they should be good to go!
Car seats usually have expiration dates—about six years after purchase. Check if your model is still safe to use by looking at the product label or the manual. If there are cracks in the seat or worn-out straps, just purchase a new one.
How Do I Prepare the Older Sibling for the New Baby?
Explaining to your older child you’re having a new baby is something you should also be prepared for. It might be a challenge since your child usually doesn’t understand everything completely but it can also be a good news for them. Remember that everything should go smoothly. Don’t rush them and force them to understand everything as fast as you want.
For Children 1-2 Years Old
Family growth may be a difficult period, depending on how old your child is. If the older sibling is between one or two years old, they probably can’t comprehend yet what a new baby means. Despite that, it’s important to let them take part in the excitement. Let them hear you talk about the new baby and your attitude will rub off on them, too. Make the older sibling still feel important and loved by spending a lot of quality time with them before the new baby arrives.
For Children 2-4 Years Old
For children between two and four years old, jealousy is a common problem. At these ages, your toddler will be very attached to you and may feel like they’re being replaced by the new baby. Try to reassure them their baby sibling is not a threat by patiently explaining to them what these changes mean. Tell your older child that the new baby will need a lot of your attention but this doesn’t mean you will love him or her any less.
Involve your toddler in the preparations for the new sibling. This will help them get on board and they will also feel more positive about the baby. You can let the toddler come with you when picking out baby clothes or decorating the nursery.
Set aside quality time with your toddler. Go to their favorite places, read to them and play with them. Let them feel how much you love them and reassure them this won’t change.
Also, make sure you’ve made arrangements for them before you go into labor. You can leave them with relatives, friends or a trusted babysitter. It would be helpful to let the older sibling visit you in the hospital as soon as the baby is born. This will let them know they are part of an important and intimate family moment.
If possible, time milestones in your child’s life—like starting preschool or switching to a toddler bed—such that they won’t coincide with the baby’s arrival to your home. It may be overwhelming for the kid to have too many changes happening at the same time. If it’s not possible, hold them off for some time until the baby has been settled into your home.
For Children 5 Years and Older
At this age, children are less threatened by a new baby. Make sure to still include with the planning and preparation so they don’t feel left out. Emphasize their role as the big brother or sister and let them take part in caring for their sibling. This is a big moment for them just as much as it is for you.
How Do I Manage My Time?
As much as we would all like to be supermom, caring for two children will make you super busy! It’s not an easy job and you will have very little time for yourself. Don’t hesitate to approach your relatives or friends if they can babysit from time to time. You should also consider hiring a nanny to look after your children so you can carve out some time for yourself.
Many mothers worry they won’t have enough time for all their kids or they will end up loving one more than the other. Don’t worry! This is a fear that stems from being overwhelmed by the changes coming your way. Each baby is unique and you’ll love each of your children uniquely. You will uncover more love inside you than you ever thought you were capable of. With family growth also comes your growth as a person and as a mother. Enjoy this period and learn from each moment.
What should you bring to the hospital when you go into labor? Find out what to put in your hospital bag in this video by Anna Saccone:
Family growth comes with a lot of challenges but also a lot of joys. Delight in welcoming your new baby and taking care of your family. Don’t forget to give yourself space and patience to learn as you go along the way. This moment in your life is just a portion which will mold you into the best partner, parent and person you could ever be!
What are some of your experiences in dealing with family growth? Let us know in the comments section below!