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Often I work with second time parents looking for a better birthing experience than the first.

 

Yes, they are more aware of what to expect the second time round but if their previous birth was traumatic they may feel quite anxious about doing it all over again. Second pregnancies are also very different from the first as there is usually a very active toddler to run around afterwards. Many pregnant mums can’t believe how much they could actually rest and naval gaze when they were pregnant the first time! When we sit down to talk about the WONDERFUL birth they want it’s often the first time they have the space and time to connect with their second, third….. child and think about how to best prepare.

Adjusting to life with a new family member can be wonderful but also tricky. To help ease the transition I have compiled some tips on how to best prepare yourself and your family for your new addition.

 

Bond with your baby in the womb

You’ll definitely be busier the second time round but finding the time to bond with your baby is a great way to connect with them and prepare for their arrival.

You can:

  • Talk, sing and read to your belly - this could be you, your partner or both!
  • Give your bump a pet name
  • Touch, play and massage your belly
  • Paint or use henna to decorate your bump with your partner - be sure to take a photo as a keep safe!
  • Keep a pregnancy journal about the changes in your body and how you are feeling at each stage. This is a great way to express both the positive and negative emotions you may be feeling and take some time just for you. (Perhaps when your energetic toddler is tucked in for the night!)

 

Create a bond between your bump and other children

Deciding how to prepare your child or children for the birth of a sibling may depend on their age and interest level. For this reason you can follow their lead when it comes to how much they want to know and be involved in preparations. Despite this there are still plenty of ways to encourage your child to connect with your bump, which can be adjusted to fit your families circumstances.

Some ideas include:

  • Singing and reading to your belly if they are able
  • Showering your belly with water - much cleaner than painting!
  • Let them help you choose items for the baby and nursery
  • Snuggle with your child and encourage them to touch and play with your belly - you may also like to let them experience the sensation of the baby kicking
  • Tell them how much the baby will love them and how lucky the ‘bump’ is to have them as an older sibling
  • Explain or read children’s books to your child about what their sibling will be like when they are born - for example ‘they won’t be able to play at first but you can give them kisses and cuddles. They’ll also spend a lot of time feeding, sleeping and crying.’
  • Talk about your pregnancy, the baby, and the birth you plan to have, in a positive way

By normalising birth and describing it to your child in a way that isn’t to be feared, you are planting the seed that birth is a natural beautiful experience. Birth is often portrayed as scary in our culture so talking about birth as a positive and exciting event is a wonderful thing to do.

 

Prepare for birth and the postpartum period

When you bring your beautiful new baby home you are going to very busy…. and no doubt, in those early months, quite sleep deprived! The best way to get ready for birth and the postpartum period is to get organised. This doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own. I would definitely recommend enlisting the help or your nearest and dearest!

Some ideas include:

  • Have a birth plan in place
  • Pre-organise babysitters for your other child/children when you go into labour
  • Stock your freezer with frozen meals - if you can’t do all the cooking you could ask a family member or friend to help out
  • Set up the nursery and install car seats
  • Pack your hospital bag
  • Go through old baby clothes, wraps, blankets, toys and books and decide what to keep and what to recycle
  • Check that you have all the items you need for the hospital and at home. This could include things like nursing pads and bras, maternity clothes and nipple cream.

 

Take the pressure off after birth

In the weeks following birth you are still healing, so this is a good time to practise some self-care. You and your family will also be adjusting to life with another child. Your other children may have mixed emotions about their new sibling but there are some things you can do to help ease the transition.

Some ideas include:

  • Give the other children a present from the newborn to create a feeling of goodwill
  • Set up an activities and snack station where you feed your newborn - duplo, activity books and favourite toys can be great distraction for a toddler
  • If your children show jealousy, acknowledge their feelings and reassure them of your love
  • Wear your baby in a sling or baby carrier - you will keep fit and have your arms free to attend to your other children and activities, all while bonding with your newborn. Your baby will also love the sense of touch and feelings of safety and warmth.
  • Spend some alone time with your other children doing their favourite thing - even if it’s driving cars round the living room! This could be when the baby is napping or over the weekend when you have more hands on deck.
  • Be kind to yourself. Introducing a new child into the mix is a big change so some standards may need to be lowered as you adjust. Don’t worry if the house is messy or you child watches a little more TV in the early months. It will only be for a short time.
  • Remember you are doing an awesome job. You created and are caring for yourself and two or more little humans. Enjoy those baby cuddles while they last, show yourself some kindness and care…… and don’t forget to ask for help if you need it.

If you would like more tips on post birth care you can check out my 10 Wonder Tips. The blog contains some great ideas for new and experienced mums.

 

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