No matter what age your firstborn is, you may be feeling nostalgic for those early infancy days and thinking dreamy thoughts about baby number two. So how can you determine if you’re ready to handle a second pregnancy—and a second child? While only you and your partner can truly decide what’s best for your family, there are a handful of factors to consider when figuring out if you’re ready to start planning your second pregnancy.
Just as you wanted to be as healthy as possible before making baby number one, you’ll want to be as fit as possible before tackling your second pregnancy. While experts say it takes at least a year to fully recover from pregnancy (what with the vitamin depletion, strain on your reproductive system, and weight fluctuations), there’s no rule that says you need to wait a full year before trying again. If you’ve gotten back to your pre-pregnancy weight, you’re eating well, and you’re feeling energetic enough to plow through a second pregnancy (well, as energetic as you can feel while taking care of a little tyke!) there’s no reason not to go for baby number two as soon as you’d like. Here are some pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about back-to-back pregnancies:
1. Positives for Back-to-Back Pregnancies
- If you are concerned about your age and fertility, the sooner you start your second pregnancy, the younger (and probably more fertile) you’ll be.
- Your first baby will likely keep you moving (good physical activity!) throughout your second pregnancy.
- You probably will not have time to agonize over every pregnancy symptom since you will be busy round-the-clock.
2. Negatives for Back-to-Back Pregnancies
- During your second pregnancy, you will not be able to rest (or sleep) as much as you would like since you will have your firstborn clamoring for your nearly constant attention.
- Unlike your first pregnancy, you will be required to do some heavy lifting for example carrying around your firstborn, whether you have a backache or not!
- If you had a c-section for your first delivery, it may be difficult for you to have a vaginal delivery within 18 months to two years.
- If you are breastfeeding during your second pregnancy, you will be nourishing not just one, but two babies, so you will need to be extra careful about keeping your nutrient levels up.
Do not assume that if you did not experience certain symptoms the first time, you will be as lucky this time. Some moms swear those early-pregnancy symptoms of fatigue, morning sickness, are stronger the second time around. Some tricks to combat morning sickness include eating small meals and snacks throughout the day, nibbling on ginger, sippping peppermint tea, sucking on Preggie Pops, and trying Sea-Band acupressure wristbands.
You also can expect most things to happen sooner than they did the last time around. Since you already know what it feels like to feel baby move, you will probably recognize the subtle sensations earlier. You might also start showing sooner. Labor is also likely to go faster.
As your pregnancy progresses, it is important to be honest with baby number one about how life will change with the new baby around. Make sure he or she knows ahead of time that you and Dad might not have as much time to spend with him once his little brother or sister arrives. And make sure he or she understands that he will not be able to play with the baby for a few months after he or she is born.
Some moms like to prep their kid by teaching him or her to be more independent in certain ways, like cleaning up their toys themselves. Consider giving your child a baby doll or stuffed animal to “take care of” while you care for the new baby to make him or her feel included.
But while you want your big kid to be prepared, you also want things to feel as normal as possible throughout the changes. That means making sure your child knows you will always still love him or her and that he or she will always be very special to you. Make it a point to spend one-on-one time with him or her now and plan to continue to do that once the new baby comes, too. Make arrangements with a sitter or family member so he or she can stay in his or her own bed when you go into labor. And, when the baby is born, ask friends and family who will bring gifts to bring one for baby number one too.
Besides figuring out whether or not you can afford another little mouth to feed, you will want to consider a host of other factors such as:
- If you work outside the house, can your budget take the hit from a second maternity leave or will you have to cut short your time with the second baby?
- Are you a stay-at-home mom who would like to get that second pregnancy over with so that you can return to work?
- Can your house handle another little body now, or will you need to move to a bigger (more expensive) home to accommodate your growing brood?
- Will you be able to use the baby gear you already have (crib, car seat, and stroller), or will your firstborn still be using it, requiring you to get a second set of essential items?
Having a second baby will be an additional expense no matter when it happens, but the timing of your second pregnancy can have a big impact on how much extra money you shell out. You and your partner may want to come up with a preliminary budget to see what you might be able to afford in the near future versus the distant future to help you make your decision.