While your first pregnancy featured resting up and self-care, pregnancy with a toddler is more likely to be a little different. You might have worries over how they’ll react to a sibling and you might get mid-sleep kicks in the belly. Here’s how to juggle the two...
Being pregnant when your eldest child is a toddler has happened to a lot of women as it’s the most common age gap between siblings (WHO, 2005; Schummers et al, 2018). But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to go through.
You might be worried about the safety of carrying a tired two year-old that has become a staunch buggy refuser with a bump. You could be feeling anxious that your eldest child will feel abandoned when the baby comes along.
Alternatively, you might just be absolutely exhausted from juggling everything. You might be juggling work, a child that wants to do a jigsaw puzzle in the middle of the night and the delights of pregnancy insomnia. Here are our tips…
1. Conserve energy wherever you can
Having a toddler is tiring. Being pregnant is tiring. Doing the two together is very, very tiring. So cut yourself some slack. If your toddler is still napping, try to lay down and take a nap with them.
Accept it as help instead of criticism when your mother-in-law offers to vacuum the stairs. Then snuggle up in bed with a good book and a hot chocolate and make the most of the time you have to rest a bit more before the baby comes along.
2. Do the preparation
If your mind is working overtime worrying how your child will deal with this new person in their life, take the lead with it. You could get down to the library for some books on being a big brother or sister. You could also visit friends with babies so they can have a cuddle and practise helping you put on a nappy.
If your child is old enough, use those triggers as a way to start conversations about what’s going to be happening. That way, they feel like they are in the loop.
3. Get them to help you out
If you have any pregnancy conditions that mean heavy lifting is a no-no – or you’re just worried about lifting generally – use practical tips to avoid it. You could get your child to climb into their car seat rather than you lifting them. When they reach for a cuddle, ask them to climb up onto the sofa and snuggle in with you there rather than you bending down. Make it a fun game that they can climb the stairs (with you following closely behind) instead of being carried. They’ll soon start liking the independence anyway.
4. Get your child to bond with the baby
Whether it’s by giving them a nickname, sticking their stickers all over your bump or blowing raspberries to their new sibling through your belly button, your child will figure out their own way of making you being pregnant less an inconvenience and more of a fun game. Getting your child a present from the baby may go a long way to starting the bonding process. Maybe try getting them a baby doll so they can look after their baby while you look after their sibling.
With the help of an extra adult, you could take your toddler to some of your antenatal appointments to learn more about your baby. If they are interested, they may like to hear the baby’s heartbeat or see them wriggling on a scan. Check first with your midwife whether your older child can come with you to appointments and scans.
5. Try not to panic
Toddlers are wriggly and even if they don’t mean to, they may fling a kick at your belly that will send you into a panic. But try not to let it, as your baby is well-protected in the womb. But do speak to your midwife if you do feel any discomfort.
Tips from other parents to reduce flailing limbs include putting a pillow between you and their legs if you’re co-sleeping. You could also choose a book over some rough and tumble play, especially in your first trimester.
6. Make special you and them time
There will still be plenty of time for you and your eldest to bond when the baby comes. But for a while, there won’t be as much time to dedicate purely to them.
Why not try to plan a special day trip with them (before you get too big to enjoy it). You could also do the things that you two have always loved doing together that aren’t too taxing, such as puzzles. And use the time to chat to them about any worries or questions they might have about getting a baby sibling too.
Breastfeeding while pregnant
Some mums find out they’re pregnant while still breastfeeding an older baby or toddler. Some decide to stop and some go on to breastfeed throughout pregnancy and then tandem feed, breastfeeding two children of different ages (Flower, 2003).
If you need support during your pregnancy, either with weaning your toddler or questions about continuing to breastfeed, you can speak to one of our breastfeeding counsellors by calling our helpline on 0300 330 0700. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. You can also find more useful articles here.
This page was last reviewed in February 2019
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also provide Refresher antenatal courses for those parents who have already had at least one baby. They offer a chance to reflect and build on past birth experiences and prepare yourself for looking after your new baby.
Flower H. (2003) Adventures In Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond. La Leche League International, Schaumburg, Illinois: 225-30, 235.
Schummers L, Hutcheon JA, Hernandez-Diaz S, Williams PL, Hacker MR, VanderWeele TJ, Norman WV. (2018) Association of short interpregnancy interval with pregnancy outcomes according to maternal age. JAMA Internal Medicine, 178(12):1661-1670. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30383085 [Accessed 30th January 2019].
WHO (2015) Report of a WHO technical consultation on birth spacing. World Health Organization, Department of Making Pregnancy Safer, Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR). Available at: https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/birth_spacing05… [Accessed 30th January 2019].