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Common concerns for second-time parents

Dr Nicole Highet

Dr Nicole Highet

Dr Nicole Highet is the Founder of COPE. As well as the Executive Director of COPE (the Centre of Perinatal Excellence). COPE is a not-for-profit organisation devoted to reducing the impacts of emotional and mental health problems in the pre and postnatal periods.
Created on Oct 09, 2023 · 4 mins read

There are a number of common concerns that parents can have when considering or expecting a second child. Pregnancybirth and your experience as a parent may be quite different the second time around. Sure, there will be more challenges – as there are more and different demands upon you from each child. But also don’t underestimate the value of your learned wisdom and experience from having already gone through it once.

Common concerns (the next time around)

Will there be enough love to go around?

One common thought that second-time mothers have is “how will I ever love my next child as much as my first?”  Be assured that love is infinite. Our love for each child is complete for him or her, and there will be plenty for all.

You may also wonder whether your special relationship with your first will be affected by the arrival of the second. Some parents feel that they are somehow being ‘disloyal’ to their first-born by bringing another child into the family. The reality is that there is no reason for your special relationship to be negatively affected; rather, the dynamics will change as you and your first-born come together to share in the experience of their younger sibling.

What if I don’t love my second child as much as my first?

It is not uncommon to feel differently towards your children, particularly as they grow and develop into different little people with their own personalities. Just as with your friends, there will be special attributes they each possess that you will come to love within them.

Will the birth be the same?

Just as pregnancies may differ, births can also vary. If your first birth experience did not go to plan, be assured that this is not a blueprint for the second.

Generally speaking, labour the second time around usually lasts about half as long as the first – it can be even shorter. If you had a vaginal birth with your first baby, your chances of having a caesarian are low (around 2 percent). If you had a caesarean section, it does not mean you will automatically need a caesarean with your second – in fact around 80% of these women go on to give birth vaginally.

What about breastfeeding?

The experience that you had last time with breastfeeding, even if it was not so positive at the time, will help you greatly if you intend to breastfeed your baby. Generally speaking, breastfeeding is easier the second time around and, even if you did have problems with breastfeeding, it does not mean these challenges will extend to this baby.

How will my older child react?

Don’t be surprised if the welcoming of your new baby brings a little jealousy in your toddler. This is all perfectly natural and understandable. In many ways, sharing the experience of a new baby can bring you closer together with your first-born as you both welcome the new member of the family.

Try also to create special one-on-one time with your firstborn so that your time together is nurtured and they can feel reassured that you are there for them. There will, of course, be times when your first child will have to learn to be patient and accept there is someone else’s needs that you need to attend to now too.

What if I can’t cope with the different demands?

Coping with a toddler and a newborn can be challenging at times. But it can be reassuring to know that often second babies can seem more settled and able to entertain or put themselves to sleep much easier. This may be due to the fact that YOU have greater skills and confidence. You may also be less worried about ‘doing everything right’ which can lead to a calmer upbringing.

Your second child will only ever know life where your time is divided between more children, and so they may also be quicker to adjust to their environment and may seem less demanding and more easygoing than your first.

What about me?

There is no doubt that probably one of the greatest challenges and realities is that you will have less time for yourself, especially in the first months. For this reason, it can be important to try and arrange some alone time. Even a trip to the supermarket without a pram can feel invigorating – so having a few hours by yourself, preferably out of the house, can help you feel calmer while reinvigorating your sense of self.

Similarly, it can also be hard to find time to spend with your partner, so once things begin to settle, planning time for this can be a great opportunity to reflect together and rekindle your partnership as new parents to your expanding family.

Bringing a second baby into the mix is bound to have its concerns. Try to keep these worries under control by realising the realities and celebrating the welcomed changes. Life keeps getting bigger and a growing family is a wonderful thing!

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