Heading for labour the second time round? We’ve got some advice for you
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 mamas with two plus 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!
Ann Cha (Punch Detox)
- Build in special play time with your first born. He/she will really value one-on-one time with their favourite person. Get Dad to do this too!
- Carve out time for yourself!! If you have help from a nanny, friends or family, it’s ok to go pamper yourself. You’ll be more present when you’re spending time with your kids and your husband.
- Introduce all kinds of fruits and veggies to your kids at a young age. Eat family meals together and set a good example for eating healthy, wholesome food.
Palka Arora (Blogger)
- Plan your day: easier said than done, but it is a necessity. When you have more than one kid to handle, try planning your day in advance. A pre-made grocery list, already scheduled doctor’s appointment, a pre-planned meal chart can all come in handy as your days are going to be super busy.
- Ask for help: being a second time mama has different challenges, as you now have a newborn to handle along with an older child. Don’t be too hard on yourself and try and take a break whenever you can. Never feel shy to ask for help, be it from your partner, your friends or relatives. They’ll be happy to help!
- Take care of yourself: taking care of kids is no easy job, but for that you need to be hail and hearty yourself. Give your health and well-being utmost importance. Never compromise on your own post natal check ups and post-partum supplements. Take a healthy, well balanced diet and be healthy.
Ruth Benny (Top Schools)
- Calculating love: I remember worrying that I wouldn’t love my second as much as my first. A friend told me that a mother’s love multiplies; it doesn’t divide. That’s stuck with me even to this day when I have mad moments and contemplate a third.
- Juggling both: Make time for one on one time with each of your children. They behave differently when they’re alone; it’s a completely different dynamic. I don’t do this enough but really do enjoy ‘alone’ times with my children.
- Siblings are blessings: My children are 15 months apart, as am I and my sister. We – and they – fight, but the love between siblings is beautiful. Maybe not all the time, but there’s the potential for them to have each other long after parents pass.
- Prepare for the fact that you may mourn the loss of your 1st “little” one – who overnight become the “big” one, expectations seem to shift dramatically and it can feel like grief.
- You don’t know it yet, but your number two is the just the thing your wee family needs. You will see, whatever it is you didn’t know you were missing, they will have it. There might be an extra chromosome, they might be white, they might be black, very very tiny and fragile or blue eyed and grumpy – whatever it is, I promise, it’s what you need.
- You will have a second child, you will think you now have two things to love, but really you have three; baby 1, baby 2 and then that very special third thing you get to witness from a mother’s unique perspective – ‘the sibling world.’
Christy Cheung (Rockababy)
- Your two children do not take up 50% of your time each; one third each, and leave the rest for yourself to keep you sane.
- Besides emotionally preparing the elder one that a new family member is coming, make sure he/she has his/her own social circle, so that when mommy is busy with the newborn, the older child can still enjoy time with friends. Before the birth of second child, arrange many playdates especially with those who have young sibling
- Bonding time between the two children is as important as your one on one time with each child.
Hulda Thorey (Annerley)
- Guilt seems to be huge with all second time mamas. Get rid of it. No one will do it for you. Remind yourself that you are still a fantastic mum and make the most of the time with both babies. The newborn needs you too and the toddler will live.
- On that, create environment when feeding and bathing where you can have both babies. Read or watch TV on one side and rugby hold newborn on the other one so that you are never “pushing” the toddler away, rather asking him/her to come and sit with you.
- Don’t force your toddler to ‘love’ the newborn and constantly ask questions if they love their brother / sister. Very unreasonable and is not helpful. I must add the fourth!
- There is a bit of a reality slap after second baby. No one is as impressed or excited. Partner goes back to work. Everyone thinks it is a bit normal. Your own emotions may not be as heightened as with the first one. So Expect a bit of a low feeling. But just take the time and cuddle up with your new baby and toddler and enjoy the space, the time and do absolutely nothing with them. Just let the time pass and it will all become enjoyable, on your new families terms.
- Accept help: This is Hong Kong – a town teeming with talented ladies willing to help us for an eye-poppingly modest fee. I’m Type A, so the first thing I did was whack out a schedule for me and my lovely helper that meant all toddler and baby bases were covered. Neither of us really sit down, but everything is getting done beautifully.
- Trust the pro within: I thought it was awesome when my first child first went 12 hours between night feeds at 4 months. My second baby (who’s not even as naturally as good a sleeper), is doing this at 2 months. It’s not even her – it’s me. I know all the tricks now and use them while I giggle at my former, clueless self.
- Give your first equal love: This is a no-brainer for the suitably brain-dead new mama. I use the fantastic help I have (see point 1)to make sure I spend a few hours each day just with my son. It’s treasured time for both he and I, and gives my ears a break from the battle cry of the baby (two birds, one stone, etc.).
Natalie Wong (Founder of Evie Beauté)
- Don’t feel guilty you are not doing as much for your second as your first – I was racked with guilt over having to stop breastfeeding much earlier for my second (son Desmond)than for my first (daughter Olivia), due to changes in my work situation. For the first year at least, I remember feeling pangs of guilt at how I’d ruined Desmond forever. These feelings subsided by the time he was around 2, when I realised that he was healthier than his sister (because I was healthier when pregnant with him). And he’d never know unless I told him anyway!
- Remember to give attention to both kids – once Desmond arrived I gave him all my attention, I hardly had any energy left after taking care of the newborn and keeping up with work. Now it’s the other way around – especially with homework, primary school admissions, and the simple fact that Olivia is able to communicate and understand things better, naturally I tend to spend more time with my eldest. So I make good use of any private time I have with my son. And other times I make sure we are doing activities with the two of them together whenever possible, even when it’s not absolutely necessary – including bringing him along to pick up Olivia from her primary school interviews!
- Ever since the Desmond came along, I started to hear “It’s not fair!” One of the simple things I do to teach them to appreciate what they have and not compare with others, is to not buy for the sake of being ‘fair’. If I need to get something for Olivia, I may end up buying something for Desmond – or not. This often leads to constructive discussions about the definition of what is fair, what is not, and what blessings the each of them have that are different – because they as individuals are different. So far, it seems to be working.
Siobhan Barnes (Founder of Neon Life Society)
- Don’t feel guilty for not being able to spend the same amount of alone time as you did with your first child. Your second one will learn and grow from your first!
- Prepare your first child by explaining that your second is coming. Get them excited and ask for their help (a present from baby on the day of their arrival helps too). Explain baby won’t be able to play at the beginning but there’s a lot of fun to looking forward to together.
- Enjoy the early days and precious interactions. Seeing your first child love and nurture their little brother or sister is incredible. Take lots of pics and savour those moments!
- Accept that while you have learned everything, you (still)know nothing! Second time around can be an even more eye opening experience. Sleeping and eating patterns, health, personalities, etc., can be so different between children. And frankly you forget a lot between kids! Adding another baby to the mix definitely throws off the routine and it takes time to get the hang of balancing two. Accepting that and trying to be more flexible can save a lot of stress.
- Let your kids make mistakes, get messy, and/or bored. Nowadays kids have a million toys, many of which are designed to be “mess-free,” and they don’t get much chance to be creative thinkers. We seem to be afraid of letting them get bored. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes and have to force myself not to intervene or say no to doing something that’s messy. In the end, those moments when I throw the rules out the door tend to be the biggest source of fun and creativity for my kids – and pure joy for me, too!
- Make time for yourself and your partner. This is always easier said than done, and something that gets harder with more kids. But good advice I received is to carve out even just one hour a week for yourself. Making time for your partner is also key. Having kids is tough and often draining. Date night is key for my husband and I to reconnect and have time to chat about what happened during the week and what’s coming up in the week ahead. If we can’t do dinner for some reason, then we at least meet for lunch. It makes all the difference.
You can do it, mama!