How to survive pregnancy with a toddler in tow...
Pregnancy is no walk in the park. Adding one (or more!) toddler to this crazy mix of pregnancy hormones, sickness and tiredness can make the hard parts of pregnancy even harder!
I got pregnant with my second when my first was 9 months old. It was a very different experience to the first time around. I forgot I was pregnant most of the time and the pregnancy whizzed by so quickly. Pregnancy sickness was worse for me this time (low-light: being sick in the sink whilst feeding my toddler!) but I was less anxious and looked forward to the quiet evenings to connect with my baby after the whirlwind days of toddlerhood.
So here are some tips for you mums to make the most of this special but sometimes exhausting time…
1st Trimester Tips
The first trimester is very different the second (or more) time round: just as exhausting but you’ve got to show up for your toddler and lying on the sofa with Netflix isn’t as much of an option!
Ask for help if you need it, whether it’s help with house chores, nursery/school drop offs or looking after your toddler for an hour or two so you can get some rest.
Peppa Pig and other cartoon characters can be very helpful friends when you are feeling too exhausted/nauseous to do anything. Embrace this time of snuggling on the sofa together - you could even make it a fun movie date with treats. If you are not keen on screens, know that this is temporary and your child won’t become reliant on TV as a result.
When your toddler sleeps, REST! No excuses. Cleaning and tidying up can wait!
Getting outside for some fresh air can really help with the tiredness and morning sickness. Try a gentle walk or find a park with a good playground and decent hot drinks and take a seat whilst your little one plays.
2nd Trimester Tips
Involve your toddler. For example, take them to your scans and explain what’s on the screen, or show them a scan picture of their little sibling so they can start to understand and be a part of it.
Put together a box of activities that your toddler can do on their own next to you, for days where you don’t have much energy. Things like Play Doh, colouring pads and pencils, sticker books and simple arts and crafts activities. If you have a garden, a sand pit or paddling pool filled with toys and kitchen utensils can entertain little ones for ages!
Lower your standards and be kind to yourself. Pregnancy can be a difficult journey at times and it takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally. Some days all you will manage is to survive and that’s OK. The washing-up, laundry and cooking can wait. I once ordered a delivery Macdonald’s on one of my harder days and it completely hit the spot 😂
Your local library and local playgroups are great for having a cup of tea whilst your child(ren) explores new toys and books. If you are Winchester-based, follow the brilliant Boo & Mummy on Facebook for all the great playgroups and activities for little ones in the area!
3rd Trimester Tips
The sickness will hopefully be well behind you but it won’t be as easy to run after a small child and get involved in their play. They might also start to feel unsettled as your bump grows and they start to understand the big change about to happen…
Think about YOUR needs and factoring in some time for you before your baby arrives, and also connecting with your baby. Things like pregnancy yoga, reflexology or a bath with lavender oil can be lovely ways of doing both.
Have some quality time with your little one. If they go to nursery/school, use that hour or two before bathtime to do something together. It doesn’t have to be big: an hour of arts and crafts at home or jumping in muddy puddles in the local park will be just as special to them. I overdid it with that one as I felt so guilty that I wasn’t going to be spending as much time with my girl and planned museum visits most days when we were London-based. It was exhausting and in hindsight it didn’t make much difference to her what we did as long as it was quality time together!
If you’ve already done a Hypnobirthing course, a refresher course with your birth partner can be a lovely way to prepare for this birth experience and deal with any concerns or fears from your previous birth as well as brush up on the breathing and relaxation techniques.
Prepare your little one for their new sibling by reading books like ‘There’s a house inside my mummy’, visiting a friend with a baby or showing them pictures of them as a newborn.
If you have the energy, see if you can get friends or family to babysit so you can go out with your partner to have a bit of quality time together before the new arrival
Last weeks of pregnancy tips
How to prepare for the postpartum period, before the new baby joins the party!
One big concern that parents have is: who is going to look after your child(ren) when you go into labour? Having a plan A, B and C, i.e. multiple friends and family members who don’t mind being on call and woken up in the middle of the night to come over. Our little boy decided to make an appearance on the one weekend that our friends who live next to the hospital were away. Luckily the in-laws came to the rescue at 5am!
Think about making any new bed/room transition well before the baby arrives or well after without them thinking it’s the baby’s fault.
See if you can enlist the help of friends and family to look after your toddler for a few hours here and there, so you and your partner can have some time bonding with your newest addition
Make/buy meals for the whole family to put in the freezer and plenty of snacks for your toddler
Buying a little present from the baby to your toddler can be a nice little way of easing them into this big change and making them feel important
Think about how you will introduce the new baby to your toddler, for example you may want someone else to hold the baby when your eldest comes to meets their sibling for the first time.
Parents of toddlers expecting again - do you have any tips?