Pregnant again and not sure how to feel, or considering having a second child? We’ve rounded up the best parenting advice for second-time mamas.
Even if you’ve been through pregnancy and childbirth once before, there’s no telling how the experience will differ the second time around, not to mention making the adjustment to doubling the amount of kids in your household! We polled a number of our previous That Mamas with 2+ kids for their wisdom; read on for their advice on everything from multi-tasking, to traveling, to finding the space in your heart to love your children equally and differently. You might want to get some tissues ready, mama!
On Giving Birth the Second Time Around:
“I loved giving birth both times! It was much easier the second time around in terms of expectations as well as pregnancy and delivery. There were not many surprises, instead the overall process was more organised in terms of preparing for a baby. Handling a 1-year-old child with another one due was tiring at times, but it was all worth it!”
“My eldest are 4.5-year-old twins and my third child is two years younger. Finding out we were having twins was naturally a scary but tremendously exciting time. In terms of giving birth I had all 3 naturally, and without a doubt in my mind having the twins was equally the most physical and tough experience of my life, and also the best of my life. I was more nervous for my second birth because to some extent you do expect it to be the same all over again, but Benji was born in two pushes and it was all over. All that worry for nothing! I did plan the birth more with my third because I wanted to make it easier. Emotionally I think I was prepared better the second time round but mentally not so much, really you can’t plan it.”
“With each consecutive pregnancy expect the unsolicited advice to multiply. By pregnancy #6 I would hear “Don’t you have your hands full enough?” and cringe. My usual response was a pleasant smile and,”Better than empty!” People offer advice and opinions that are quite breathtaking! Remember that your children will hear your response. I have many funny stories surrounding the unusual reactions people have to large families with pregnant mommies!
When you find out you are pregnant with #2 or greater do not expect the pomp and circumstance that you got with baby #1, especially with close pregnancies. This carries out from the time of announcement well beyond delivery. Just because your second, third, fourth or tenth little miracle is just as exciting to you…it will not be to everyone else. So, at conception start freezing meals and hiring help for both tired days and post delivery days because no one is going to do it for you. HIRED HELP IS THE BEST. If you can afford to do it, do it from the moment of conception for the existing child or children, even if it’s only once a week. Why do this when you have great friends and family that are so generous with their gift of time? Because hired help will do things your way and as “insurance”. “Insurance?” you ask. Well, all pregnancies aren’t the same and if you get into a bind with appointments or end up needing extra rest and your support system is all too busy… the already-born child or children will be at ease with the hired support and it won’t add stress to YOU while you may need a bit of repose!”
Is raising a baby easier the second time around, or harder since you’ve got another child?
“Initially, it was a bit stressful and challenging as our younger one was just 2 years old and we had to literally look after two babies day and night. Giving individual attention and meeting the needs of both was also not easy. Big bro is high maintenance while his baby sister is more independent but demanding. After all, each child is different with a personality of their own so you might have altogether different experiences with each of them. Second ones are usually inspired by the older ones and are faster in learning as well as easy in adapting to their environment.”
“Once the next little angel arrives (and it is a lie that every delivery is faster): SERIOUSLY, sleep every chance you can get. You are generally outnumbered and your world has changed. A messy house is a sign of happy kids! Convenience foods are just that…conveniences for transitional or busy times in life. A prepackaged meal here and there is not going to be detrimental to you or your child’s longevity. Take it easy on yourself and your spouse and get out of the house and into the fresh air and sunshine as soon as you feel recovered!”
“Here’s the thing with having a second child: Yes, there is some juggling and adjustments but it’s nowhere near the adjustment of going from no baby to Baby 1 (or 2 in my case). No baby to Baby 1 = you buy everything on the planet to prepare yourself, books, clothing, research the best prams, EVERYTHING changes. But going from Baby 1 to Baby 2? A few things change but most of the change has already occurred when you had Baby 1 and you know what to expect.”
“A mom of three once told me that having 2 or more kids is easier than having only one. I thought she was pulling my leg until my second daughter came along and she was actually right!
My firstborn was only two when my second one was born but as early as that, she was already a huge help around the house. She provided the extra pair of hands when my hands were full. From getting the baby wash or nappy cream to choosing what the baby would wear, she loved playing the part of the big sister.
Most importantly, now that they are 5 and 3, they have each other to play with for days on end! Busy children = happy mommy. And the play, pretend play is different at their own level. They really get into it and ‘lose’ themselves playing the part (compared to a grown-up who ‘pretends’!). That spells good news for mommy who wants to multi-task on running a business (like me!) or do household chores.
Having 2 or more, especially with close age gaps is indeed easier!”
On the importance of multi-tasking:
“Your Baby carriers will be your new best friend! Get a soft one (I adore the Moby Wrap) for when baby is little, and an Ergo for when they are older. I even managed the fine art of breastfeeding the baby in the carrier so I could do things like cook dinner and chat to the older one.”
Traveling with two kids instead of one:
“Traveling with kids does get significantly harder when you have a second child because there is double the number of kids to manage. Depending on their ages, you will be carrying around two sets of nappies, clothes and car seats as well as juggling two sets of naps and meal times. But it is still worthwhile. Kids tend to be more engaged when there are other kids around, so activities that your school-aged child might have yawned at now become more interesting when there is a toddler showing some interest as well as mum and dad. Plus having multiple kids around helps consolidate your family’s holiday memories. Bigger kids like to tell little kids about places they’ve been and things they’ve seen and little kids just love everything big kids say! Just remember that although the effort increases, so does the reward!”
“Buy a GOOD but practical stroller for outings and don’t be intimidated to leave the house with two or more. The sooner you start getting out, the less foreign it will be to you all and the more fun it will become. Don’t over think, just GO! Prepare the night before for outings and be ready for the unexpected and always keep a change of clothes (or at least a handy white top) for you IN your vehicle while the kids are young. Don’t overpack the baby bag as you are carrying for two. Pack only essentials. The 5-month-old does NOT need a dozen different toys! Always pack the baby’s change of clothes and fresh diapers in gallon-sized Ziplocs so that you have a disaster carrier with you!
Traveling needs to be planned earlier than when it was just the three of you! Be realistic when packing and book a larger room than you really need. I saw a mom once traveling for a weekend with two littles under 3 and she made such an ordeal out of packing that it took the joy out of the trip. You do NOT need to pack the baby’s bathtub (I’m not joking!) and every toy that the toddler has to keep them comfortable. Part of travel is experiencing new and different things; carrying 20 Thomas the Tank engine trains doesn’t lend itself to a laid back kid or to experiencing the environment…it is dragging their environment and comfort zone along!”
On Dads’ increased role when you have multiple kids:
“The arrival of the second baby is a great chance for Dad to really connect to the older kid(s). He can do bedtimes and school drops and also day trips out to the zoo.”
On loving your second child as much as the first:
“I was really worried about that cliché of not loving the second one enough – and I found that it’s actually like a whole new kind of love grows. They are totally different humans from the first, and you love them differently but just as totally as the first.”
“You know what’s fun about #2? They have a much different personality. This can be a challenge, in that what you think you know about babies may not apply, but mostly it’s just fascinating, and it gives you an experience of parenting you’d never have gotten with just one kid. Also, they have their own relationship, and that’s really cool to watch, too.
Balancing time with kids isn’t easy, I find, but you need to make sure that you are creating memories with them. The thing I do to make sure I can relate to each of my kids and have that time be important for them to is pay attention to what they are doing. One likes to listen to music, one likes cooking and the other likes playing with balls. So I try to have time doing those things alone with them when I can. “
“I use the magical words ‘I love you’ literally every day. I hug them as much as possible and make them feel that I really mean my words, individually or with both together. In fact, they complain if I’m biased! Individual attention is extremely important and equality in that is even more crucial. Both have different personalities and I try to be fair according to their needs and wants to the best of my ability. For me, both are equal.
“If there is one thing I’m sure of in raising two kids, it would be that their personalities, temperaments and intelligence are completely different from one another! Listening and knowing each child as a unique individual – with his/her own whims, wishes, strengths and capabilities – becomes essential to effective parenting.
The tendency to compare is counterproductive. One would not respond the same way as the other would. Instead, having a customized approach tailored to each child nurtures a reciprocal love language, not to mention more confident and happier kids. One size does not fit all.”
“Multiple kids means multiplying the fun. The world is your playground. Every day is a new adventure.”