Deciding to add to your family is a hugely personal and exciting (if not daunting) decision for most parents. What will having a second baby mean to baby number one? When is the right time to try? How will you cope with doing it all over again? Whether you’re already pregnant and preparing for your new arrival or you’re starting to think about extending your family, keep reading as we look at the realities of welcoming baby number two!
Making the big decision
When to start trying for a second baby is influenced by everything from finances, fertility and other personal circumstances to the way you and your partner were raised. Koru Kids asked other parents how they made the big decision:
“We weren’t going to have any more children but our daughter was around eight or nine years old & kept mentioning she would love a brother or sister. I think her asking was the main reason really, that and the fact I wasn’t getting any younger.” Emma Rowley
“I wanted to get pregnant before I was 40 (when statistically IVF success rates plummet) so the age gap was smaller than I would have liked, three years. I think five years would have been better. On the other hand, my children are great friends being quite close in age.” Siân Buck-Evans
“I never planned to have kids. I met my partner in my late thirties and it just made sense then. I was 37 when our first was born and we felt if we wanted another one, we better get on with it quickly. The reasons for this were biology, the idea that if they were closer in age they would hopefully be friends and playmates (which worked out to be true for us) and just frankly to get that stage of parenting out of the way.” Andrea Matias
“We only ever wanted one and after a really traumatic birth, I felt this was the right decision. But as my daughter got a bit older, I started to worry (sorry, it’s morbid) about her being alone if something were to happen to us and of having to shoulder all the responsibility of us as we get older. I just had this overwhelming urge that she should have someone else to share things with. She’s five now and we have her and a nine-month-old, and it was the right decision for us.” Rebecca Fludder
Facing pregnancy and birth – again!
Preparing for pregnancy and birth for the second time seems to conjure up one of three sets of feelings: one: you’re eager to have the same experience. Two: you’re terrified about going through it all again, or three: you’ve gleefully forgotten what it was really like! While your last labour and birth is likely to have affected how you feel about having baby number two, whatever your history, a good pregnancy and birth are possible with the right support.
It could be as simple as surrounding yourself with friends and family ready to champion you through it all or you may feel the need to invest in a doula or hypnobirthing therapist who can help you achieve the most relaxed and painless birth possible, whatever the circumstances.
One thing to keep in mind is that your second pregnancy will be harder in some ways than it was with your first because you’re now looking after another child. Depending on their age, those spontaneous naps may not be possible without additional childcare. That said, for many people, the emotional drive to have another baby surpasses any of the physical or practical concerns.
“As soon as my son was out of hospital (he was in and out a lot as he was 13 weeks early), I knew that I wanted a sibling for him. I wanted a sibling for him more than I wanted another baby and another maternity leave and all that goes with that. After the trauma of a premature birth with my first, my daughter was born naturally on her actual due date.” Laura Summers.
Will you love a second as much?
It's the elephant in the room. Yet a question so natural to feel and yet not want to ask anyone else about: will you feel the same way about your second baby as you do your first? The answer, put simply, (and from someone who's been there) is a resounding YES. Just as your heart seemed to grow in size when your first was born, the same thing mysteriously happens again when you have another child.
That said, it’s important to note that there may be hormonal reasons why a sudden rush of love doesn’t take over straight after birth and to recognise this is also completely normal. Always talk to a midwife if you are having difficulty processing and dealing with your emotions after birth so they can advise you – they will understand if you need additional support.
Adjusting to life with two
When your second baby arrives, it’s natural that you find yourself amid a whirlwind as you all adjust to new routines, new demands and new emotions. Remember, this too shall pass.
“I remember another parent telling me it would take about three weeks for my eldest to readjust to the arrival of his baby brother. I then felt like I was counting down the days until those three weeks were up! Thankfully, the timing was about right for things settling down. I think sibling rivalry is something we’ll be navigating throughout childhood but the benefits of them having each other far outweigh the difficulties.” Saskia Crawley
It can be difficult to put yourself in your first child's shoes, but here’s how you can ease the transition for them:
- Use pregnancy to help your child begin to bond with their new sibling. Encourage them to talk and read stories to your bump, give cuddles and chat about what sort of things they hope to do together in the future.
- Read fun, age-appropriate books together about what it means to be an older sibling, what is going on through pregnancy and what to expect when the baby is born. Some good ones include 'There's A House Inside My Mummy' by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban, and 'My New Baby' by Rachel Fuller.
- Validate their emotions and see challenging behaviour as a call for connection in times where your child will feel naturally insecure.
- Schedule in as much quality time with your eldest child as possible before the new baby arrives and prep activities you can do together in the newborn days when they’ll require a lot of your attention. For younger children, one tip is to create a basket with puzzles, busy bags, colouring and quiet toys to place near your favourite feeding spot.
Recognising some aspects will be harder this time around
Take the pressure off yourself by remembering every child is different. When it comes to caring for a different child, be prepared to forget what you think you know about parenting. This doesn’t mean you're failing. The reality is we never stop learning, growing and needing to adapt as parents.
With added responsibility, increased costs and reduced sleep, there are bound to be aspects of having two children that will be harder than having one. However, the more help you have access to, the more you can diffuse the pressure and focus on the beautiful benefits of having a bigger family. Watching siblings playing and chatting happily together is one of the most rewarding sights you can experience as a parent.
At Koru Kids, our carefully vetted and trained nannies are here to make the transition easier for you and your kids. We can help you pick the perfect nanny for your family, help your child get to know them well in advance, and then organise At-Home childcare sessions or days out so your child is getting plenty of quality attention as everyone adjusts to newborn life.
Find out more about Koru Kids nannies and let us help you support your transition to a parent of two.