One more time

Every pregnancy is different, even your second one. Prepare well

Pregnant woman along with her daughterShould I go for a second child? Every parent goes through this thought at some stage. Although, it is a very individual thing, most would like to have a second child. Those who choose not to, are influenced by issues of modern lifestyle—growing costs of education and the upbringing of a child—being the biggest deterrents. The second most likely factor is the busy lifestyles and lack of time.

Doing it in time

Career pressures lead to late marriages, which results in couples having their first child after 35 years of age. Some parents avoid having a second child, but the first child starts demanding one after going to school. This is generally because they see the siblings of other children and start feeling lonely. Some find it embarrassing to have a second child when they cross 40 years, while some may be unable to have one, as fertility starts to decline rapidly after you are 35. However, although this is true for a lot of couples these days, a majority of the couples do have their second children in time.

So when the pregnancy test comes positive, you looking forward to having your second child. However, there are certain important things that must be kept in mind for planning a second pregnancy. If you are thinking that just because you had an easy first pregnancy, this one will be similar, think again. Most women don't have the same symptoms as the first pregnancy.

What makes the second pregnancy different?

Every pregnancy is different for different people, sometimes even for the same person. If you are pregnant for the second time, you will have some surprises both physical as well as mental in nature.

  1. Morning sickness: You are more likely to suffer from morning sickness during your second pregnancy, than your first.
  2. Abdominal growth: Your abdomen will become noticeably large much earlier this time.
  3. Signs of the baby: You will feel your baby move sooner. This is may just be because you are now experienced.
  4. Positioning: The first pregnancy leads to stretching of the abdominal muscles, weakening them. They are unable to support the baby well in the second pregnancy, as a result you carry much lower.
  5. Emotions: Handling emotions become easier when you are pregnant the second time. The experience of your first pregnancy helps in coping with general symptoms.

Is labour and delivery different too?

Yes. The second labour and delivery process can be considerably faster than your first time [where the labour typically lasts for at least 12 – 14 hours]. In most cases, the perineal cut can be avoided.

As for the delivery, if your first delivery was by caesarean section for non-recurrent cause, then the second baby can be delivered normally. If the cause was recurrent such as a contracted pelvis, then a repeat caesarean section is needed.

Post-pregnancy pains

The first 6 – 8 weeks can be the toughest. You will be under pressure to cope with both, the first child and the pregnancy. Your experience the first time will come in handy, however, the demands of looking after the first child can be challenging. If your first child is five years or older, she may be able to manage things independently. Co-operative relatives or even a good maid may be of great help here. Without proper help, you are very likely to be exhausted.

You will have to put in double the efforts getting your new-born's schedule on track, and coping with your older child's changed behaviour.

The good thing about the second pregnancy is that it will increase your confidence in your own abilities as a mother. Breast feeding, changing diapers, handling illness will all come back to you naturally.

How will it affect you?

Older children usually get affected emotionally and may experience a range of emotions such as jealousy, excitement or resentment. Younger children cannot verbalise their feelings and hence may show behavioural regression such as thumb sucking. Older children might misbehave, throw tantrums, or refuse to eat. These problems are usually transient, and a little preparation can go a long way.

It is a good idea to make them play the role of older sibling. There are a number of things that can help you achieve this.

  • Make your older child help tidy the new baby's room.
  • Arrange special time just for you and your older child.
  • Role-play or read stories to your child that will help him or her feel important.
  • Prepare your child for what to expect when the baby comes home. This includes explaining that a new baby cries, sleeps, and needs diaper changes frequently.
  • The arrival of a new child represents a big shift in your older child's life. So, it is important that you plan for some time during the day to engage him or her in some outdoor activity.

Managing all this can make you physically and emotionally drained. This can also lead to depression and may sometimes make you feel very low. In such demanding and stressful situations, you may want to relax a bit or talk to a friend. Hence, it is important that you find time for yourself and your partner.

Tips for the second issue

  • Time it right: Ensure that there is enough gap between the first and second child and that your finances and professional things are sorted. Also ensure that the first child is mentally prepared for the arrival of the second.
  • Get help organised: You need to have someone around 24/7 at least for the first two months after delivery.
  • Take proper care of yourself. Bowl of dryfruitsPamper yourself, and relax after a trying day. Keep good stock of dry fruits, fruits and vegetables, easy dinner options.
  • Re-use stuff efficiently: If you use items you already have such as cribs, bassinets, strollers, high chairs, and clothes, you can save a lot of money and time.

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Sandeep Mane
Sandeep Mane, MRCOG[UK], MD, FCPS, DGO, DICOG, is a certified Laparoscopic and Hysteroscopic surgeon from UK. He is surgical skills training in-Charge at surgeon’s college in London, UK and is the consultant gynaecological endoscopic surgeon at the Origin International Fertility Centre in Thane, Mumbai. He enjoys teaching and this includes educating general public and training doctors worldwide.

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