“It’s very different this time,” is the answer I often blurt out to people after they ask me how I am feeling now that I am pregnant with my second child. This is the most accurate and authentic response that I can give because this pregnancy does feel very different. Already consumed by my daughter who is an active and exuberant toddler, I find myself spending less time worrying about the pregnancy, and myself but instead ruminating about how this major life transition will affect my two-year-old daughter and our entire family. As a psychologist and mother I have found that planning and sharing my own thoughts with my toddler has been incredibly effective. In the process it has calmed my own nerves, while reassuring my toddler that although change is upon us her life will remain stable, exciting and consistent. I recommend the following advice for mommies expecting their second child and looking for a way to calm their own nerves while providing clarity and predictability to their own children.
- Whenever you feel your child is ready to learn about the news of your pregnancy, it is important that it is done in a way that celebrates their new role along with your own. If you can find a way to pair the news of your pregnancy with some type of celebration, your child will most likely associate your growing belly with something very exciting. Also, this is a great way to begin including your child in everything that is happening around him or her. When finding out the gender, I did a cupcake reveal with my daughter and husband. We had her bite into a cupcake to reveal the sex of the baby. To this day whenever I mention the word “baby brother” she speaks about a party and blue cupcakes.
- As my belly began to grow and picking up a heavy toddler became more grueling, I began to talk to my daughter about how important it was that she walk more without being picked up. I associated her not being picked up with her becoming a big girl rather than my growing belly. Its important to be honest and communicate with your child in a way that does not leave them feeling worried for you.
- Before going to the hospital it might be helpful to explain to your child in age appropriate language that you will be going somewhere to have a baby. Try to answer all of their questions as honestly as possible. . Include them in the preparing and packing for the hospital.
- The first meeting between siblings is often cherished and documented. However, this will be the first time your child will also see you with another baby after being separated for some time. In order to ease this transition, I recommend that when your child first meets his sibling that the newborn be in a bassinet or someone else’s arms other than your own. Again, this should be a celebration of some sort where your child and newborn are awarded their new titles of big/little brother/sister.
- Once home, it is common that your child may regress and begin acting like a baby and wanting all the things that the newborn has. Indulge him/her on this, rather than saying no. If they want to be swaddled like the baby, swaddle them and in the process explain that they are too big. By simply restricting, your child may grow to become jealous and irritable.
Although every family is different and this transition is experienced in multiple ways, communication is key. By communicating with your child throughout your pregnancy, you have the ability to share this experience with your best friend while providing comfort and support to both of you. My journey throughout this pregnancy has proven to be “different” in many ways, however it is also more special because I have someone to share it with who was not there the last time I was pregnant.
Marianna is a co-founder of Parenthood Psychology Practice, a mental health practice that specializes in supporting new and expectant parents. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been dedicated to studying all aspects of parenthood including infertility and perinatal mood disorders.
Image source:// Author’s Own
Did you have a special way of sharing the news with your second child?