It Takes Two!

12th September, 2017
Vanessa Papas

There are some things you can’t really prepare for when it comes to having a baby – lack of sleep, postpartum bodies, getting comfy with poop (and, yes, other bodily fluids) and learning the art of how to take parenthood with a pinch of salt. Fortunately, there are a handful of other things you can prepare for – finishing the nursery, installing the car seat, jam-packing the freezer with frozen dinners and helping your older child understand the concept of a new little person in the house.

Considering A Second

The transition from one baby to two can be both exciting and terrifying. If you and your partner have decided it’s time to venture back into babyhood, remember the words one wise woman said... ‘If you thought your first child was life-changing, wait until you have your second one!’. The upside of adding to your family is that you know you are perfectly capable of taking care of a baby. You also don’t have to hold your breath worrying they’re not hitting their major milestones... because you know they will crawl, walk and talk when they are ready. That leaves you more time to enjoy the stages your child goes through rather than anticipate the next big thing.

Benefits Of Two

In recent research, 90 000British mothers and fathers were quizzed about their circumstances and how happy they were with their lot in life. The research showed that marriages became ‘happier’ with the arrival of a second baby. Other studies have shown many ‘only children’ would have preferred sharing their life with a sibling, even if it meant having to split the last chocolate chip cookie. Before diving too deeply into the ‘only child’ subject and the countless stereotypes that portray only children as spoiled, maladjusted, isolated brats (which are completely false and unfair statements), as with so many things in life, two can be better than one. Two make for good company for each other (a sibling can be a lifelong friend, long after you’re gone), siblings look after each other, and will always have each other’s back, and, most of all you get twice as many kisses and cuddles!

The Birth Order

A lot has been said about the effects birth order has on developing personality, with researchers emphasising that birth order is just as important as gender and genetics in determining personality traits. Just as no two pregnancies are the same, no two siblings are either.

The one thing you can bet your pay-cheque on is the first-born and second-born in any given family are going to be different,” says Dr Kevin Leman, a psychologist who has studied birth order since 1967. “Children are all different and have to be parented in different ways. You need to parent kids differently depending on their birth order.”

Generally speaking, a first-born will naturally be sort of an ‘experiment’ for new parents, a mixture of instinct and trial-and-error, whereas a second child has the benefit of parental hindsight in their corner. First-borns are often the leader of the pack, reliable, conscientious, structured, and high achievers. Second-borns tend to be more free-spirited, fun-loving, uncomplicated and outgoing. Whatever your child’s birth order, by understanding your particular child’s personality and temperament, you can create an environment in which both your first, and your second child can achieve their full potential.

Body, Mind & Spirit

Just because you’ve ‘been there, done that’ doesn’t mean your second pregnancy, birth and baby will be the same as the first. Talk with your ob-gyn or midwife about your second baby prep plans. Find out whether the medications you’re taking are okay to keep taking throughout your second pregnancy. You can’t assume that your health status will be the same the second time around.

Many women who have had C-Sections with their first birth are curious whether they can have a vaginal birth (VB) with their second. While certain conditions need be met in order to make your VBAC successful, you need to choose a midwife or gynae that supports your decision and can assist you in your choice. Also, don’t assume that you won’t be able to breast-feed second time round.

Give it a shot and seek advice, but remember that a happy baby equals a happy mommy and that alternatives to breast-feeding ensure that baby is happy, healthy and fed. Many women say it’s harder to lose weight following the birth of your second child. The truth is, the older you get the harder it is to lose weight and losing weight requires planning and time, which you may not have a surplus of after having a second child as you are all consumed with your growing family.

Breaking The News

There is no right or wrong way to tell an older child you’re expecting and when. What’s more important than timing is ensuring they feel involved in the process from the get-go and reinforcing that your love for them will not change and that they are so important in the event.

“If you’re planning to move your child out of the nursery into another room to make way, plan to do this many months in advance so that your child can adjust to their new space and not feel like they have just been ‘thrown out’ of their old nursery to make way for the new baby,”suggests Amanda Rogaly, founder of the online baby resource site, BabyYumYum.

“Give them a gift such as a special toy/blanket and a card from their new baby sister/brother before the birth saying that they can’t wait to come home and meet their big brother/sister. Get them to make things such as paintings for the new baby’s room that they can feel proud of and that you can show to everyone when people come and see the new baby in the nursery. A good idea is to buy your other child a new-born baby doll or special teddy bear that they can have as their own baby that you can give them when you come home with your baby.”

Moms will agree that one of the biggest challenges is learning how to juggle your time with a newborn, especially if your older child still needs your full attention. When new baby finally makes their debut try to include your other child in as many things as possible from helping you bath baby to reading to baby and even choosing baby’s clothes.

Great Expectations

When your first baby was born, he opened up your heart and you felt a love like you’ve never felt before. It makes sense then that you have a fear that your love for your second child won’t live up to the first, or are scared of how your first-born’s life is going to change. The great thing about love is that it is boundless. The heart has this unbelievable ability to find more room in it for love... and love always finds a way to blossom.

Second Baby Checklist

  • Inform your medical aid that you are having a second child
  • Sift through old baby clothes, gear and monitors and keep those still in good, working condition
  • Never reuse an old baby mattress, rather buy this item new as over time, the surface of an old crib mattress can settle and become soft and uneven, putting your little one at risk
  • Calculate the financial impact that a second child will have on your pocket and start planning accordingly
  • Prepare food in advance that you can freeze and buy bulk items
  • Accept help from family and friends
  • Throw out your ‘to do list’ and learn to accept that you won’t have time to do everything on your list anyway, so stop stressing over it