Prenatal Bonding…With A Toddler In Tow

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Congratulations on your new pregnancy! I am currently 22+4 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and there will be a 21 month age-gap between our two children. We do not know the gender of this new baby. We didn’t find out with J, and I loved the surprise of being told after he was born – I’m very excited to recreate that moment!

Although the way I have felt through this pregnancy has been very similar to my first, my life is so different now. I was so self-indulgent first-time round, taking out so much time to relax, prepare and connect with our baby. This time, I have a very active toddler in tow! After speaking with lots of people with several children, and spending some time working out what I want through these nine months, I have put together a collection of ways you can bond prenatally with your second/third/fourth/etc. baby, while continuing to be very present for the kids that are already running around. 

During my first pregnancy I…enjoyed yoga and prenatal fitness classes

I signed up to two local classes, and spent around 6 hours per week exercising safely, and meeting other mums-to-be. I learnt to breathe, to exercise my pelvic floor, and to strengthen my core, all ready for the upcoming birth. Feeling so in tune with my body helped me to feel in tune with my baby.

This time round…

I am enjoying Joanna Helcke’s FitBumpBox programme. I have neither the abundance of time or cash that I had when I was pregnant with J. Luke and I teach on alternate evenings so, if I’m not working, I’m looking after J. This online fitness programme is proving a great alternative though! For just a one-off payment of £69, you are sent weekly videos for a whole year, corresponding to your stage of pregnancy, and even continuing into the postnatal period. You also receive a box containing all the equipment you will need, and some great guides to help you navigate your way safely through prenatal fitness.

The videos are each 20-30 minutes long, and are very gentle and soothing. I can manage them (and actually find them really useful), even when I’m shattered. There are also some interval training videos included, if you want something a little more active as well. I put on a relaxing playlist of music (shared at the bottom of this post), and take just a small amount of time to focus on my body and my growing baby. This is a lovely opportunity to really connect with them, and to share this time with them alone.

Other fitness options with a toddler include walking and swimming. With just one car between us, I walk a lot with J. It fills some time each day where I know he is getting some fresh air as well. He also has weekly swimming lessons, which I plan to continue right through this pregnancy. OK, so it’s not very relaxing, and I don’t get the chance to actually swim. However, it’s still nice to be in the water and feel that comfortable weightlessness.

During my first pregnancy I…sang lullabies

Studies have shown that babies can hear from as early as your 16th week of pregnancy! This is their most developed sense when they are born, and the one you can really connect with while you are pregnant. Music that makes you feel good floods your body with positive endorphins, making your baby feel good too. We played a carefully selected playlist to J throughout my pregnancy, and I often sang along so that he could hear my voice. (You can read more about this here.) The effect of this after birth was very apparent! He clearly recognised the melodies, and was soothed and comforted by the singing tones of my voice. At 17 months old, he still listens to same pieces when he is tired or upset.

This time round…

This baby is being exposed to the same music, as I sing J’s lullabies each evening. This is something that I am doing far more consistently now, as it is so much a part of J’s routine. I am also regularly singing nursery rhymes, reading children’s stories, and speaking with the sing-song tone reserved for young children. This baby is probably hearing much more of my voice this time round (although possibly thinks they are called J…!), because I talk all day long! We haven’t changed the music we are using at all, because it would be lovely if both children could be soothed and settled by the same melodies. Don’t feel bad if your singing isn’t directly aimed at your new baby – they will still hear and feel the love with which you are singing.

During my first pregnancy I…attended antenatal classes

This is actually one of the things that helped us both to prepare for J’s arrival. Spending time with other new parents-to-be and taking a few hours to think about nothing but the baby was really lovely. It helped us to feel ready, and to relate to J and how he would be feeling.

This time round…

I’m hoping to do the same. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful company so close to us, offering ‘Expecting Again’ courses! We attended a Birthability course last time, and it was the best money we spent in nine months. It was so informative, and really focused on teaching Luke how to support me during labour. Their ‘Expecting Again’ course promises to focus on factors that might be different in your next birth, as well as learning how to juggle a toddler and a newborn baby. Although it’s not very long since we had a newborn, we’re really looking forward to putting aside a couple of hours each week to talk about and think about our new baby!

During my first pregnancy I…practised hypnobirthing

We didn’t attend a hypnobirthing course when I was pregnant with J, but I read all about The Calm Birth School, and listened religiously to their affirmations and birthing tracks. It helped me to feel really calm, controlled and excited throughout my pregnancy. It also allowed me to really go inwards and focus on the baby during my labour.

This time round…

I have bought Suzy Ashworth’s new book, The Calm Birth Method, and it is still on my bedside table… Really struggling to find the time at the moment – something else always seems to take precedent. I’m a little more nervous this time round, so I really need to start reading. It filled me with so much faith and confidence before. I would highly recommend dipping your toe into hypnobirthing if you have any nerves or concerns at all.

During my first pregnancy I…took long baths, slept, and indulged

I napped whenever I was tired, took candlelit baths, and had several spa days. I read the BabyCentre religiously, and bought magazines about babies.

This time round…

OK, so I’m not doing any of those things, but…

When I sat down to write this post, I felt guilty that I’m doing far less to bond with this baby than I did with J. It’s easy to forget and miss all the little things though. Don’t forget that having a toddler means that you are bonding with this baby more easily and naturally. You are talking to your other child about their baby brother or sister, and encouraging them to cuddle your tummy. You spend your life emerged in baby things, so to think about this new baby is an extension of what you do everyday now. Also, you get to spend your days watching your little one playing, learning and enjoying themselves. What could be better than that?

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy – you’ve got this!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase through these links I receive a small payment – at no additional cost to you. However, I would never recommend something that we had not tried and loved ourselves.

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