Pregnant women who already have an older child or more have several distinct advantages over first-time moms. Already being a "veteran", you know what to expect and are less likely to worry about pregnancy signs. At the same time, you're more likely to spot symptoms that are concerning earlier on and to ask for help.
Women who already have an older kid or more to look after also have some additional challenges, however. How do you get through a second or subsequent pregnancy in one piece while still meeting the needs of the kid(s) on the outside of your tummy?
Fatigue is one of the pregnancy symptoms that are almost universal. You'll get through that, of course, but your work might suffer a little, your house might be messier, and you'll be a bit cranky. Coping with heavy pregnancy fatigue is much harder when you have already got an older child or more who need you. But it will come anyway. Stay-at-home moms who have kids that still nap can take advantage of this nap time by napping too, or at least taking some time off and reading a book or browsing the web. Older kids who no longer nap in the afternoon can still benefit from "quiet time" a practice in which you send them off to their rooms to read, play, or entertain themselves for an hour or two. Quiet time allows the kids the time they need to themselves, while giving you rest. Even if you get all the quiet time you need, you will still be tired. Go easy on yourself by cooking simple meals or getting your partner to do that. Don't try to push yourself into the role of domestic hero, but do use this time to snuggle up with your older kids. Passive activities that won't strain you too much include reading or having kids read to you, playing board games, and talking to your kids about stuff they're interested in.
Big tummy = Can't carry kids?
Some pregnant moms wonder if it is still OK to lift their toddlers or slightly older kids up, or to carry them around, with a huge abdomen. I carried my daughter around on my shoulders throughout my second pregnancy, and the only problem I ever encountered was the fact that the grandparents didn't like it. Women going through healthy, low-risk pregnancies can exercise (including weight lifting), carry heavy groceries, do DIY, and yes carry their older kids. Those who have been told to take it easy or those who have been placed on bed rest fall into a different category, and should follow the medical advice they have been given. If you feel any pain, it's obviously a good idea to listen to your body's signals and refrain from carrying your kids. Talk to your doctor about your experience.
Physical pregnancy symptoms like fatigue, morning sickness, backaches, frequent urination and a huge belly can change the way you parent older kids while you are expecting. But let's face it those mean mood swings many expectant moms have can have a much bigger impact. Do you find yourself snapping at your kids? Are you irritated and impatient? Or sad? Your constantly shifting emotions can truly affect your kids... and your partner! How do you get around this? While mood swings can't be prevented and the way in which they affect your actions can't always be controlled, you can talk about what's going on. Come right out and tell your kids that pregnancy hormones can make you cranky at times, and that that's not their fault.
Getting your kids ready for the baby
When are you going to tell your kids about the new baby? While that is an entirely personal decision, there are some things to keep in mind. Telling them right away will let your kids know exactly why you are tired and sick, but it also means they will have to go through the same grief as you in the event that you miscarry. Waiting means you have to conceal any symptoms you have for a while. Once you tell, keep on talking about the baby and what life will be like after you add a new sibling to the family. Most kids will like it if you take them shopping for baby stuff, ask their opinion on name choices, and emphasize the fact that they'll be a big sibling soon.