There are a number of common concerns that parents can have when when considering or expecting a second child.
Pregnancy, birth and your experience as a parent may be quite different second time around. Sure there will be more challenges – as there are more and different demands upon you from each child – but also don’t underestimate the value of your learned wisdom and experience from having already gone through it all once.
Will there be enough love to go around?
One common thought that second-time mothers have is “how you I ever love my next child as much as my first?” Be assured that love is infinite. Our love for each child is complete for him or her, and there will be plenty for all. Many second-time parents express that they felt their love double when the second child arrived.
You may also wonder whether your special relationship with your first will be affected by the arrival of the second. Some parents feel that they are somehow being ‘disloyal’ to their first-born by bringing another child into the family. The reality is that there is no reason for your special relationship to be negatively affected; rather, the dynamics will change as you and your first born come together to share in the experience of their younger sibling and that both of your lives and your relationship with one another will be enriched as a result.
What if I don’t love my second child as much as my first?
It is not uncommon to feel differently towards your children, particularly as they grow and develop into different little people with their own personalities. Just as with your friends there will be special attributes that they each possess that you will come to love within them. The love you will develop for each of them will be strong - they are both part of you.
Will the birth be the same?
Just as pregnancies may differ, births can also vary. If your first birth experience did not go to plan, be assured that this is not a blueprint for the second.
Generally speaking, labour the second time around usually lasts about half as long as the first (it can be even shorter). If you had a vaginal birth with your first baby, your chances of having a caesarian are low (around 2%). If you had a caesarean section, it does not mean you will automatically need a caesarean with your second - in fact around 80 percent of these women go on to give birth vaginally.
What about breastfeeding?
The experience that you had last time with breastfeeding – even if it was not so positive at the time – will help you greatly if you intend to breastfeed your baby. Generally speaking, breastfeeding is easier the second time around and, even if you did have problems with breastfeeding your first child, it does not mean these challenges will extend to this baby, as every baby is an individual and their breastfeeding experience is too.
How will my older child react?
Don’t be surprised if at times the welcoming of your new baby brings with it a little jealousy in your toddler. This is all perfectly natural and understandable. In many ways, sharing the experience of a new baby can bring you closer together with your first born, and you both welcome the new member of the family.
Try also to create special one-on-one time with your first born so that your time together is nurtured and they can feel reassured that you are there for them. There will, of course, be times when your first child will have to learn to be patient and accept there is someone else’s needs that you need to attend to now too. This is an important part of life, though, and it’s a lesson that they may learn quicker than you may expect.
It can also be positive for you and your first born to engage in parenting together. By giving them a doll or a toy that they can parent alongside you, you look after ‘your babies’ together. This gives them an opportunity to learn and play as you attend to the new baby.
What if I can’t cope with the different demands?
Coping with toddler and newborn can be challenging at times. But it can be reassuring to know that often second babies can seem more settled and entertain or put themselves to sleep much easier than first babies do. This may be due to the fact that YOU have greater skills and confidence. You may also be less worried about ‘doing everything right’ and the effects of this greater confidence can follow through to have a calming affect on your new baby.
Your second child will only ever know life where your time is divided between more children, and so they may also be quicker to adjust to their environment and may seem less demanding and more easygoing than your first. Of course, there are instances where for whatever reason your second child may be more demanding, but together you will learn to accommodate and draw on the resources available with you to make it work.
What about me?
There is no doubt that probably one of the greatest challenges and realities is that you will have less time for yourself – especially in the first months. For this reason, it can be important to try and arrange time alone. Even a trip to the supermarket without a pram can feel invigorating – so having a few hours by yourself, preferably out of the house, can help you feel calmer, more relaxed and reinvigorate your sense of self as a person.
Similarly it can also be hard to find time to spend with your partner, so once things begin to settle, planning time for this can be a great opportunity to reflect together and rekindle your partnership as new parents to your extending family.