Pregnancy the second time around looks a little different than the first time. You are more aware of what to expect (although every pregnancy can vary in its symptoms), you aren't as likely to know the exact week and day of your pregnancy when asked (lots more on your mind!), and -- this is a big one -- you already have a child to care for! This usually amounts to less rest and energy coupled with more activity and strain on your body (especially if your first child is young and needs to be carried). Bringing a new child into the mix of a single-child household is both exciting and nervewracking. As a family, neither you nor your child know exactly what to expect. It's important to take steps to proactively prepare and involve your child in the process in order to help ease the transition. Below are some things you can do to help your older child connect with your pregnancy and feel ready for baby's arrival.
Talk about your pregnancy and the baby. Seems like an obvious step, but talking about and involving your older child in your pregnancy, the upcoming birth, and the new baby's arrival will help go a long way in making her feel like an integral part of the process as opposed to just an observer. Depending on your child's age, you can take him along to an ultrasound, encourage her to hug or touch your belly when baby kicks, or let him pick out supplies needed for baby's arrival.
Don't talk about your pregnancy and the new baby. Seems counterintuitive to the above, right? When you're not trying to involve your older child in your pregnancy, be sure to spend lots of time talking about anything but the new sibling-to-be. Too much focus on the new baby can make a child feel left out or as if he will be replaced. It's important to make her feel as if she is just as important as the new baby.
Take a sibling class. Many hospitals and private childbirth education organizations offer a sibling preparation class. The class will cover basic information about babies at an age-appropriate level. This will help children feel more in-the-know and give them an opportunity to take on a role as helper as well as sibling.
Read books. There are several children's books available that talk about introducing a new baby. Take a look at your local library or bookstore and pick out a few to take home and add to your bedtime reading routine.
Ask for help. Giving your older child a role in helping you prepare for the baby helps make him feel important and needed. You can involve her in decorating the nursery, helping you fold baby's laundry, reading to baby in your tummy, or even planning a family vacation before baby comes.
What do you plan to do to prepare your older child? Or, what did you do? Did it help?