Once your first child reaches toddler age, you may be thinking about doing it all again with baby number 2, 3 or 4! But there are some things you might want to consider first
What’s the ideal age gap?
In the UK, most mums leave around three years between births and many researchers agree that waiting 18 to 23 months after the birth of your last child before conceiving again seems best for the new baby’s – and your – health. Everybody is different, however, so start by thinking what feels right for you and your family.
Tesco Baby Club member Lisa got pregnant again when her daughter Lily was two. “I didn’t want to leave too big a gap, but I didn’t feel ready any earlier,” she says. “Dealing with the demands of a toddler and a baby was really hard at first, and Lily was very jealous of Joe. She even bit his little toes when he was breastfeeding! But now Lily is five and Joe is three and they are best friends.”
Is a bigger age gap best?
Spacing children further apart – say three to four years – will let you give each child more individual attention and may reduce sibling rivalry. Mum Jacqui believes a bigger gap makes things easier: “I have three kids – a boy of six, and two girls aged three and two. It was easier to take care of my middle baby because my son was old enough to understand and to do some things for himself.” But other mums find having a new baby after a bigger gap a real shock too, so it’s really what works best for you.
What about the expense?
There’s no getting away from it: raising a child costs money, and more children cost more money! Fortunately you’ll be more aware of how much to budget now you’ve had your first baby, and may even have some baby kit that you can re-use. But can you can afford to stay at home to look after a new baby, or to pay for the additional childcare if you go back to work? Leaving longer between children may give you time to get your finances under control; but having babies closer together could mean you’re back on the career ladder faster. Either way, be sure to check your family entitlements and benefits in case they’ve changed since your last pregnancy.
Will I love a second baby as much?
Rest assured, when the second baby arrives so will the love! For some mums, that surge of love is immediate, while for others it takes a little longer – and that can include dads too. This is completely normal but if you have any concerns about bonding with your baby, talk to your GP, midwifery team or health visitor.
And how will my child react to a new baby brother or sister?
When it comes to your existing little one, it can take time for them to adjust to having a new baby in the house – but you can take steps to prepare them. Making sure they feel special, secure and involved will go a long way to helping with the transition. Talk to your partner about how they felt about their own siblings or step siblings, and see what you can learn from your combined experiences. It could help you stop cries of ‘It’s not fair!’ before they happen.
Having problems conceiving second time around?
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to choose the age gap. As midwife Zita West says: “Having problems conceiving a second baby is more common than you think, so don’t panic. On average, it takes 12-18 months for your body to get over birth. You also need to look at your lifestyle. With a toddler in the house, you’re likely to be tired, and sex probably won’t be top of your agenda! Also ask your GP to check for any underlying conditions, such as anaemia or thyroid problems. A caesarean and complications with a previous labour could affect conception, too.” The NHS has more information on getting pregnant a second time.
Thinking about preparing your body for pregnancy? Watch this video on healthy foods to eat before you get pregnant.