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Your Pregnancy After 35 : First-Time or Repeat Pregnancy ? (part 2) - Involving Your Children

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5. Physical Changes

With a repeat pregnancy, you may show sooner. Some women think they are further along than they really are because they look pregnant sooner than they did the first time. Be realistic about your body. If this is a repeat pregnancy or if it’s been a while since your last pregnancy, you may notice changes sooner. Most women’s bodies will show the results of having more than one baby. Pregnancy, combined with the natural effects of being older, takes its toll. Attention to diet and exercise can help a great deal.

You may experience backaches more frequently because your first pregnancy stretched the ligaments that hold the uterus in place. You may carry your second pregnancy lower, which puts pressure on your back and sometimes on your bladder.

Carrying lower with your pregnancy can be beneficial in a lot of ways, including breathing more easily and eating more comfortably. However, when you carry lower, you may feel the need to go to the bathroom more often and more urgently. In addition, you may feel greater strain in your lower back, which could result in more back pain or discomfort.

Be careful when lifting, especially lifting young children. Bending over to pick up a toddler can cause back strain. To help with backache, practice the exercises you learn in childbirth-education classes. A hot-water bottle or a light maternity girdle also helps relieve backache.

Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

If your toddler is hanging on to his pacifier, you may want to help him give it up before the new baby is born so you don’t have to keep track of more than one child’s pacifier. An easy way to help your older child is to cut off the pacifier tip (end of the nipple part) with scissors. It’s no fun for a child to suck on air, so he may quickly give up the habit.

It may be harder to determine when you actually go into labor with a second or repeat pregnancy when you’re older. You may have more false labor pains this time around.

I was in my 20s when I was pregnant before. Now that I’m 36, will pregnancy be different?

Every pregnancy is unique. There are more possibilities for issues or problems to occur when you’re older, but that may not necessarily be the case. You may take better care of yourself now. At 36, you may eat better, exercise more regularly or get more sleep than when you were younger. Taking good care of yourself will help you have a healthier pregnancy.

6. Some Challenges with this Pregnancy

Fatigue is a pregnant woman’s most common complaint. Feeling tired sooner with a second pregnancy is a common complaint. Not only are you older, but you also have children to care for and interact with, and these can add stress and strain to your life, resulting in fatigue. Rest and nap whenever you can. Nap when your child does, or put up your feet.

You may start to feel guilty because you can’t do everything you want as your pregnancy progresses. Evaluate a situation, do what you can, let the rest go, then relax and enjoy life! Keep things simple and in perspective—the health of you and your baby are most important.

Moderate exercise can boost your energy level and may eliminate or alleviate some discomforts. When you exercise, your heart pumps faster; this helps move oxygen throughout your body, resulting in feeling more energetic. It’s a great way to help wake you up when you’re feeling tired. Consider an activity you can do with your child, but check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

Stress can also take its toll on you. To alleviate stress, eat healthfully, exercise and get as much rest as possible. Take time for yourself. Don’t let mood swings control you. If you feel one coming on, remember it won’t last forever.

7. Involving Your Children

Being pregnant when you already have children may raise some concerns for you. You’ll probably feel anxious about how the new baby will affect your older children and your relationships with them.

Explain to children, in simple terms, how pregnancy affects your body. Try to help your children understand any problems you may experience, such as morning sickness. If you’re too tired to do some regular activities with your children, let them know it’s because of how you’re feeling, not because of them. Reassure them that as soon as you feel better, you will do as much as possible with them.

Kate didn’t know how much to tell her kids about her pregnancy or how to explain things about it. She took Allison and Sam with her to the library to look for books in the children’s section. She was amazed at how many excellent books were available, many with tasteful pictures and simple explanations. They took books home and spent time together going through them and talking about the new baby.

Let your children help prepare for the new baby. Older children might help choose the baby’s name or decorate the nursery. A picture drawn by a big brother or sister adds color to the baby’s room and can make an older child feel important.

Delay telling very young children about the baby until they can see for themselves it is growing inside you. Even then, it may be better to wait until close to the baby’s birth to tell a very young child (under 3). Time passes much more slowly for young children, and a few weeks can seem like forever. If possible, use a familiar reference point for the birth, such as Thanksgiving or when school gets out.

Ask your healthcare provider if it’s all right to bring one child with you to a prenatal visit so the child can listen to baby’s heartbeat. Or take your child to the hospital nursery to see the new babies. Many hospitals offer preparation classes for siblings; choose one suited to your child’s age.

When your child asks questions, keep answers simple. For example, if your young child wants to know how the baby eats while it’s growing inside you, an explanation such as “the baby gets its food from Mommy” will probably suffice. To your young child, your pregnancy isn’t very important.

You may need to provide older children with more information. Answer their questions honestly, but even with older kids, don’t provide more information than they need. Most important, give them extra love and attention during this time, and plan time alone together with each of them after the baby is born.

Let your children know in advance who will be caring for them when you are in the hospital. If possible, include them in making this decision. If you can, allow them to stay at home, where things are familiar. This is a time of great upheaval for your children—make it as easy as possible on them.

8. Making Changes in Your Child’s Life

Encourage your child’s independence from you. Let your partner take over part of your regular childcare duties so they can spend time together without you. It’ll help when you go to the hospital or are busy after the baby is born.

If you must make changes in your child’s routine, such as putting her in a new room or taking away his crib, do it before baby comes. If the change occurs near the time of the baby’s birth, your older child may feel displaced. Wait awhile to give your older child’s toys, clothes or bottles to the new baby, or it could cause resentment.

Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

If you have older children, now’s the time to begin giving them additional responsibilities. You’ll be glad you did when they can do some things for themselves, allowing you free time to rest or to care for the new baby. For example, a preteen child can begin doing his own laundry. A younger child can learn to sort her clothes and strip her bed.

Don’t try to make life easier on yourself by pushing toilet training or making your child give up the bottle. It can cause more problems than it resolves. Encourage your child toward independence in small steps at the appropriate times.

9. When You’re Expecting More Than One Baby

As an older woman, you may be more likely to have twins. For older children, welcoming one baby into the family is hard enough; making room for two or more babies can be that much more difficult. Make sure the older child has her own familiar place and keeps her own things. Reassure him of your love frequently, and give him plenty of attention.

If you’ll need help after the babies are born, especially with childcare, have the helper start work before the babies are born. Your older children can get to know the caregiver beforehand, which provides a sense of continuity after the babies come home.

Encourage your older child to express her feelings about the upcoming birth of the babies. Let your child know you understand why she might feel negative and help her find positive ways to deal with her feelings.

Establish a regular, uninterrupted time with your older child before the babies are born and continue it after their birth. This might be storytime in the evening or preparing for bed or bath time. These routines contribute to a child’s sense of security. Tell your child this time is important to you and you will continue it after the babies are born. Then make every effort to do so.

If you already have a child, the birth of a new baby may greatly affect him or her, especially if your child is a toddler. After baby’s arrival, you may find she acts out more or has tantrums. Understand that your child is looking for comfort, and this is the only way she can express her fears.

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