Here is what to expect and what to do as you anticipate the arrival of your second baby:
• You will “look” pregnant much sooner than with your first baby- belly pops out!
• Rest when your first child is napping…tendency is to run around getting things done during their nap time- take care of yourself!
• Braxton Hicks (practice) contractions come sooner and more often
• Very common to have several false starts: middle of the night contractions that feel like the real deal…watch for them to get Stronger, last Longer and come Closer together for 30 minutes –before calling your doctor or hospital to confirm that you should head out to the hospital
• If your water breaks- Call and then Go! Second labors are typically much shorter than the first. The babies born on bridges are SECOND babies- not first
• Have an immediate contact close by to take charge of first child; Ideally: a trusted neighbor/friend/family who will come to your house, allowing child #1 to stay in their familiar environment and/or to continue sleeping in their own bed
• For younger children, attend a sibling prep class at your hospital OR plan an outing: go to the hospital to show them where mom will be, that there is a phone to call them on, a TV where she “can watch our favorite TV shows,” when she comes home she will bring the new baby
• Think carefully about the nature of your first kiddo- it is often great to bring them to the hospital to meet their new sibling- it is sometimes a disaster- as they do not want to say goodbye and leave mom there. (As an RN, I have coaxed many a kicking, screaming toddler to the elevator-waving a Popsicle under their noses!)
• Consider bringing them to the hospital to “pick –up” Mom and the new baby and all of you head home together
• If the first child is waiting at home for Mom and baby to arrive-Mom should not carry the baby in; her arms need to be available for wrapping around her first born
• Prenatally, present your first child with a baby of their own; practice holding them (while seated!) they can “help” you change diapers; practice gentle touching and talk about what to do and say when the baby cries-dress rehearsal!
• Have your present cupboard ready with lots of small treats and tell friends/family that they need to immediately acknowledge the big brother/sister when coming to visit- bearing presents for them- not the new baby!
• Make specific times during the day to spend with your older child-without the baby…sibling rivalry is a alive and well, lying in wait to pounce all over new family households
Having two kids is double joy/double challenge…its exhausting and exhilarating…enjoy the ride!