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Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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Special circumstances

Adjusting to another baby

Pregnancy differences

Because each pregnancy is unique, you will have some familiar experiences as well as new ones.

  • Knowing the changes of pregnancy can help you deal with them. You will remember what worked best for you last time.
  • If your last pregnancy was difficult, be sure to talk frankly with your health care provider about your concerns about this pregnancy.
  • You may feel more tired than you remember being, especially if you are caring for an active preschooler.
  • You will look pregnant earlier than last time.
  • You are likely to feel your baby's movements sooner than your first pregnancy. You will know what these movements first feel like.
  • You may carry your baby differently, giving you a different body profile.
  • You will be likely to describe this baby in terms of your other child, such as being more or less active.
  • You may be worrying that you won’t be able to love this baby as much as your other child. You will. You will form a different, but just as loving, relationship.
  • You are probably spending more time worrying about the reaction of an older child than daydreaming about what this baby is like. Your focus is on the baby fitting into the family.

Helping your older child adjust

Tip

If you are worried about not paying enough attention to your baby, spend five minutes a day talking to her. You can talk out loud or in your head.

Tell your baby about the day, describe a family member, talk about your hopes for her. Doing this when you go to bed can be a relaxing way to end the day.

You can help your older child adjust to having a baby brother or sister. Listen to what your child is thinking and acknowledge his feelings. Answer his questions simply yet fully. Keep your messages easy for him to understand.

This will help your child feel secure and comforted. There are many good children's books written about adding a baby to the family. You can borrow books from the library or buy a couple on a special trip to a bookstore. Read them at bedtime or other cuddly times.

Here are some good messages to send to your older child:

  • You can help us get ready to welcome our new baby. Involve your child in ways that make him feel important and grown up. "Our baby will need a blanket. What color do you think would be best?" "I have to rest now to help our baby grow. Will you help me by reading a book with me?"
  • You have a special place in our family. Find ways to reassure your child of your constant love. "I am so happy our baby will have a terrific brother like you!" "Let's not talk about baby stuff right now. Let's go do something that's fun for older kids."
  • We prepared for you this way, too. Reassure your child that your pregnancy with him was just as exciting as this one. "Does it seem we talk about our baby all the time? When we were getting ready for you, we talked about you all the time, too." "When I was waiting for you to be born, I could hardly wait." Show your child pictures of when you were pregnant with him.
  • Babies can be boring. Your child may be expecting an instant playmate. Prepare him for the reality and praise the abilities of being older. "Babies are fun to hold, but they can't run and jump like you can."

 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 08/22/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts