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Are you longing to go back to the days of taking care of an infant? Planning for your second child can seem deceptively easy as you’ve already been through raising a child before. However, new complications such as your biological clock, finances, and your firstborn come into the picture. Here, we touch upon the things to consider while planning for your second baby.
What Is the Best Time to Have a Second Baby?
The question of when to have a second baby can cause a dilemma among many couples. There is no right answer to this, as many factors such as health, finances, and personal preferences come into play. There are many women who have had pregnancies at the age of 40, and there have been many families with few resources who have been able to successfully raise two kids. Listed below are factors that will help you decide when to get pregnant again. Once these factors are met, it will be ideal for you to have your second baby.
Things to Consider While Planning for a Second Pregnancy
Here are a few points to consider:
1. Your Physical Health
Getting pregnant means big changes taking place in your body, and those can only happen if your health is at an optimal level. Even if your first pregnancy was not too long ago, if you’ve recovered and are in good health, you can have a second baby.
2. Your Age
As women grow older, their menstrual cycle begins to change in terms of egg production. This is because women are born with a limited supply of eggs, and will eventually run out. With increasing age, the quality of the eggs also reduces, thus increasing the chances of miscarriage or genetic defects.
3. Father’s Age
While planning a second child, the age of your partner is also under the scanner. Studies have shown that men show a marked decrease in their sperm quality once they turn 35.
Finances play a crucial role in second child planning, as the costs immediately double. Are you and your partner both working? Do you plan on sending both your children abroad for higher education? Such questions need to be thought about well in advance when planning your finances.
5. Goals As a Family
Raising a second child means that you and your partner must be on the same page. There may be instances where you both may differ in opinion. One may want to wait for a while or not have kids at all. It is important that you both communicate with each other about what your goals are and how you can both reach a middle ground.
Your career will take a backseat for a while as you devote time to your newborn.
7. Age Gap
While planning for a second child, your first child also comes into the equation. Would you like your children to be playmates? In that case, it’s better to have a smaller gap as they would be of the same age group and get along well.
8. Helping Hands
When you get pregnant for the second time, extra help becomes important because your first child needs to be looked after. Do you have a person that you trust to babysit your child? Do your parents live close by so that they can lend a hand with your baby?
Having a new child in the family would mean reassessing your living space. You may need to move into a bigger home once the baby grows or the kids would need to bunk in the same room.
If you’ve had a caesarean section for your firstborn, you would have to repeat the process if the gap is of less than two years. This is because in the next pregnancy you will need to wait for labour pains, which cannot be induced. It is not recommended to deliver vaginally in case you have had a c-section before. You must, therefore, go for a multi-speciality hospital as a big set up becomes necessary to take care of any emergency that can arise.
How to Prepare Yourself for the Second Child
Below are some tips for second pregnancy planning:
1. Go for a Check-Up
When you and your partner decide that it’s time for a second baby, make sure you get a blood test done. For starters, a blood test can help confirm pregnancy if you’ve already started trying. Apart from that, it also can also help check the iron content in your body. Most women become anaemic during pregnancy due to the amount of blood that is needed to sustain you and the baby. With a blood test, you can figure out a good plan to improve your iron content and avoid complications like maternal anaemia.
2. Keep a Close Eye on Your Menstrual Cycle
Even if you don’t use birth control, a missed period doesn’t always mean that pregnancy is around the corner. After the first baby, your menstrual cycle could be out of sync. You’ll need to chart out your ovulation days to figure out the optimal time for conception. It may take a couple of weeks to get it right, so be patient and keep trying!
3. Hit the Gym
Getting back into shape after your first pregnancy is challenging but achievable. Most moms get back on their feet after a strict exercise regime but if you’re not one of them, you need to start now. Weight gain can inhibit fertility and can sometimes cause hormonal imbalances, making it difficult to track your ovulation.
4. Read Up on Male Infertility
Pregnancy isn’t a woman’s job alone. Make sure that you and your partner are familiar with the nuances of male fertility. Habits like smoking marijuana and alcohol severely curtail the sperm count in men. Obesity has been linked to male infertility, so both you and your partner can hit the gym together.
5. Figure out the Best Time to Get Pregnant
If you’re in your early 30s and are worried that your fertility may be affected, it would make sense to have your second baby as soon as possible. However, it’s also important that you think about your firstborn. Many couples wait for about three years before conceiving their second child as the first child is independent enough by then, and the pregnancy can be given first priority.
6. Look for Alternatives
If you have hit a wall despite trying to conceive for over half a year, looking at an IVF specialist makes sense. Infertility after conceiving the first time can take place due to increased age, health problems, lifestyle changes, etc.
Things to Do Before Your Second Baby Is Born – Quick Checklist
Your second baby is sure to be welcome when you have planned in advance. Here are some things you must do before the event:
- Arrange for a babysitter so that your firstborn is not ignored during labour and delivery. This will be a point where you both will be separated, and someone else you trust would have to take your role. This can even be your partner, parents, or a close relative that you trust.
- Raising a baby can be expensive, so it wouldn’t hurt to salvage supplies from the last time that you were pregnant. Your old pregnancy gown, unisex infant clothes, and booties can be reused. Old sheets with stains can be washed and reused.
- As you’re going to be in the hospital and not within immediate reach of your firstborn, pack a bag for her. This can contain items like her favourite toy and activity book that she can carry with her when she comes to visit you in the hospital.
- Have a schedule set that is to be followed by your toddler every day. Have a practice session with whoever is going to care for your child in your absence. That way, any doubts that arise can be clarified in person rather than on an inconvenient phone call at the hospital.
- Keep a journal for your babysitter. In it, you can leave little details about your firstborn that the babysitter absolutely must know. It could be a list of cartoons your child likes, activities that can keep her occupied, snacks that she would enjoy, etc. You can even write reminders of any medication your child might need.
- If your firstborn is still young, you can invest in a double stroller for convenient travel.
- Stock up on baby essentials such as diapers, nursing bras, breast pumps, a baby monitor, etc.
- Have a baby shower with all your close friends and relatives. This is also a great time for you to request for volunteers who can help you out.
- Make food arrangements before you leave. This can be done either by cooking in advance, recruiting your folks, friends or buying readymade meals from outside. Make sure that you stock up on your firstborn’s favourite snacks to keep him/her happy.
- Scout for locations in the house where you can keep your baby, and divide your house into two zones – the first zone can be places where your firstborn can’t reach the baby and ‘over love’ them, and the second zone can be areas where your firstborn can reach the baby, but only under your watchful eye.
- Prepare for natural birth by watching your weight and doing regular exercise. Perform kegel and pelvic exercises regularly as they can help smoothen the labour process.
- Decide where you want your second-born to stay once you’ve brought him/her home. This means bunking with their older sibling, temporarily being set up in your room, or getting a new room.
- Decluttering the house comes naturally to pregnant women, and it is called ‘nesting’. Take advantage of this by babyproofing areas and making sure that everything is in its place before your second baby is home. Once you’re back from the hospital, you’ll have to manage time for both your kids and for miscellaneous errands.
- Set up a diaper station with all the requirements, such as wipes, diapers, creams, etc.
- If you feel that breastfeeding is lengthy, you could employ a wet nurse so you can spend time with your firstborn.
Tips for Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling
- There is no need to inform your toddler about your pregnancy immediately. Concepts like pregnancy and childbirth are complicated topics to handle and can be tackled towards the later stages.
- Since toddlers have a poor concept of time, even a few months can be an eternity and they may bother you with their inquisitiveness regarding the baby’s arrival every day. Wait for a while before telling them about their soon-to-arrive sibling.
- While breastfeeding, find a spot where your firstborn can also come and sit next to you.
- Sharing is something that your firstborn may not be used to – a gift-giving ceremony will help prepare her for that.
- Work on making your toddler independent by letting her do small activities by themselves. This will not only make her feel that she is a grown-up but will also let you focus on your newborn baby.
- Even before your second child is born, try not to be too indulgent with your firstborn. This is because a shift in your attention immediately after the baby is born may make your firstborn jealous.
- You can slowly start building a nurturing habit in your firstborn by asking her to take care of a stuffed doll.
- Make a secret code that only you and your toddler can understand. This way, if your firstborn feels left out, you can always cheer her up by talking in a code that only you both understand. Later, you could teach your second child as well.
- Make a scrapbook of memories to help your toddler know that they too received special treatment when they were small. This will reduce any feelings of jealousy or resentment your child may feel.
- Books such as ‘Once Upon a Baby Brother’ by Sarah Sullivan and ‘I’m a Big Sister’ by Joanna Cole can help introduce them to the concept of siblings. Reading these books can help teach them about how siblings must care for each other. Additionally, they may love the stories so much that they would soon want their own sibling.
The process of 2nd baby planning helps answer the challenges of taking care of your firstborn while pregnant with your second baby. It also helps you take the future into account, as raising two kids is twice the effort. However, the rewards are twice as good, and many families are happy that they have two children instead of one.