You're only getting over your first baby and you're being asked - or indeed the thought crosses your mind - about the second. But when is the right time to plan the next one, and do you cope?
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ARE YOU UP TO IT?
Even if your body seems back to normal within weeks, it will probably be up to a year before it's fully returned to its pre-pregnancy state.
Coping with a second baby
A new baby brings a serious change in lifestyle: one that some parents adapt to more quickly than others. Many mothers love having a newborn around and yearn for another baby as soon as the first one is sitting up.
Other mums find the early months of broken nights exhausting and don't relish the prospect of doing it all again, while some like to cosset one baby right through to school age before considering getting pregnant again.
But for more and more families these days, the reason for delaying a second baby is of a far more practical nature - the finances simply won't stretch to it!
THE STANDARD FAMILY
A two-to four-year gap between children is considered normal, but even if getting pregnant and having a baby was plain sailing the first time, it won't necessarily be the same the second time. You're older, probably more tired physically and, as with any pregnancy, there's still a risk of miscarriage.
If the preferred two-year gap does stretch to three or more, you may secretly be relieved, in retrospect, because the first child was just that little bit more independent when the second was born.
*Your body is likely to be fully recovered after your last pregnancy.
*It's easier to explain the new baby to the toddler, even before the birth.
*Your older child may go to nursery school, giving you some peace and quiet with the baby.
*Your children will have similar interests.
*Your friends are probably also having second babies and, eventually, all the children will be able to play together.
*Two and three-year-olds are prone to tantrums, which can be difficult to cope with when you have a demanding baby.
Toddlers remember well what it was like to have their mum and dad all to themselves, and are still independent, so they may be jealous of their younger brother or sister.
PLANNING THE CLOSE FAMILY
Considering what your body's been through, it's fairly astounding that you can even get pregnant less than three months after the birth. But it is possible to conceive as soon as you start to ovulate and, since ovulation precedes the return of periods, some women don't even realize they're pregnant. However, many parents believe this is the best time for "number two."
*The household can remain in baby mode and all of the baby equipment can be re-used.
*If your first child still has daytime naps, you may be able to have some time to yourself during your pregnancy.
*Your little one will still have a flexible schedule (no school), so new routines will be easier to cope with.
*The older child will soon forget what it was like having her mum and dad all to herself.
*The children will be able to play and learn from each other and are more likely to have similar interests at all stages of childhood.
*The pregnancy could be tiring if the first baby still wakes a lot at night.
*It won't be easy trying to explain having a new baby to the first child.
*If the first child is not yet to nursery, you'll probably have little time on your own with the new baby, and so you may feel you can't give enough time to either child.
*Looking back in years to come, you may feel you have missed out on their babyhood.
THE BIG GAP
With the higher incidence of divorce, and single mums, two-tier families are becoming more common as people meet new partners and want to have a baby with them.
But even couples who have stayed together often choose to have a baby long after the outside world may have presumed they'd completed their family. There may be a variety of reasons as to why they've waited so long including lack of finance or ill-health, or, now that medical opinion is more supportive of older mums, they may simply feel they'd like another one.
*You have a real chance to explain properly to your first child, the appearance of a new member of the family.
*You're an experienced mum, yet have the time to give the baby almost as much attention as the firstborn.
*The large gap means sibling rivalry is likely to be less of an issue.
*The older child can help entertain the younger.
*Having had you to herself for so many years, the older child will have a lot of adjusting to do.
*You will have children dependent on you for much longer.
*You'll probably have to buy new baby equipment.
*With such diverse interests, it may be difficult to devise family activities that will amuse both children.
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