You’ve survived the sleepless nights. You trust your intuition. You could change a diaper with your eyes closed. Yep, you’re a certified, veteran mama, and you’re ready to grow your family again.
There’s no doubt you can handle a new addition, but bringing home your second baby is different than your experience with your firstborn. Not only do you have to worry about the sibling dynamics, but if your postpartum period was emotionally challenging before, you may be gearing up to push through that again.
With the right support and a few helpful hacks, you can do this. To get you on the right track, Baptist Health’s maternal health experts weighed in with their best advice for second-time moms.
- Let your older child help with baby care.
When you’re trying to change a wriggly newborn’s diaper and your toddler is scaling the dresser across the room, your stress can quickly get out of hand. When possible, engage big brothers and sisters in age-appropriate tasks to make them feel like part of the process.
"Invite the older kids to help, like throwing the diaper away or handing you a wipe," said Jessica Garrett, RN, certified lactation consultant at Baptist Health.
- Prepare for postpartum depression and anxiety.
If you’ve experienced a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD), you may feel more equipped to manage your mental health after delivering. Knowing what’s coming, and what the newborn phase is like, can also be overwhelming.
“It may be helpful to reflect a bit on your previous postpartum period and assess what supports were helpful and what you could have used more or less of,” said Jill Garrett, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist with Baptist Behavioral Health who specializes in maternal mental health. “I find that utilizing a postpartum support plan can be really helpful in gathering your people and delegating roles and responsibilities.”
Dr. Garrett also recommended having some encouraging mantras written down or memorized to comfort yourself. For example, if you hear yourself thinking, “I’ll never sleep again,” try making this adjustment:
“'This is a tough phase, but there is also good. My baby will sleep more over time,'” Dr. Garrett said. “This is going to leave a parent a bit more hopeful and optimistic while also being grounded in the reality of the challenge of this time period.”
- Pre-wrap small gifts for your older child so they don’t feel left out.
As visitors stop by to meet your new baby and inevitably bring presents, it can make your older child feel left out or hurt if they don’t receive something, too. Asking guests to bring something small for your big kid, or preparing some gifts yourself, can go a long way.
"If you’re anticipating lots of gifts to arrive for baby, have some wrapped for the older child to open, too,” said Lisa Hays, RN, certified lactation consultant at Baptist Health. “They can even be small things from the dollar store.”
- Make a treasure box for your older child to play with during feedings.
Similarly, the time spent feeding your new baby can spark jealousy in your firstborn. Why does the new kid get all the cuddles, and make Mom stop playing with me whenever he’s hungry? You can help your older child look forward to feedings with a little planning.
“I always recommend that second-time mamas create a fun feeding basket for their firstborn,” said Kathryn Snowden, RN, certified lactation consultant at Baptist Health. “Go to Target, the dollar store, or any craft supplies store and collect new coloring books, activity books, fun toys and prizes. When you're feeding your newborn, your older child can play with the toys or activities in the basket, and even involve Mama by playing close by. The basket is novel and exciting, can establish a fun ritual associated with feeding your new baby, and gives you valuable time with both of your kids.”
- Think about your last birth experience, and use what you learned to prepare.
Did your first birth go exactly as you hoped, or do you want to do things differently this time? Writing down your goals and preferences in a birth plan can help you and your providers get on the same page about your delivery.
Parents whose first child needed care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) know the importance of delivering at a hospital with the specialists and technology to handle any situation. Baptist Health’s Labor & Delivery unit is adjacent to the Borowy Family Children's Critical Care Tower at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. It’s home to a three-floor, state-of-the-art NICU with private rooms for families to stay with their newborns and get the expert care they need.
Growing your family is a special and challenging time; Baptist Health is here for you every step of the way. To learn more about Labor & Delivery services, visit baptistjax.com/baby.