If you have decided that a year or two of sleepless nights and endless worry just wasn’t enough for you, then you may now find yourself pregnant again whilst parenting a toddler. You will probably remember the tiredness you felt in your first pregnancy, but unfortunately, that will only make you slightly better prepared for the exhaustion you will feel during the second time around. The chances are that you are already experiencing interrupted sleep and early awakenings, and the fact that you are now expending energy making another tiny human will only exacerbate that feeling of extreme fatigue. Add morning sickness, pelvic pain, and hormones into the mix and you will find that being a parent to a toddler whilst pregnant can be a very difficult time. The trick is to be prepared, look after yourself, and be willing to make changes. We’ve put together some tips that will help you get through the next nine months.
As tempting as it is to use your pregnancy as an excuse to go all out on your favourite ice cream, pizza, and chocolate, you will feel much better if you eat well. Eating small amounts throughout the day of healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, and proteins will help you to maintain your energy levels. Avoid sugary foods if you can, as whilst they will give you an initial energy boost, your blood sugar levels will dip much sooner and you will find yourself being more tired. It’s also a good opportunity to set a healthy example to your toddler.
Take A Vitamin Supplement
If you are not already on a vitamin supplement then get on one quickly. Folic Acid and Vitamin D are essential for your baby’s development, whilst the added nutrients will help you to maintain your energy levels. Don’t buy a generic multi-vitamin, as these are likely to contain retinol, a form of Vitamin A that is harmful to unborn babies. Instead, opt for one specifically for pregnant women. You don’t have to go for a branded version, as shop owned brands work just as well, such as Boot’s Pregnancy Support Tablets.
Although you might not feel like it, getting outdoors for a gentle walk will help boost those energy levels. You could take your toddler to the park to help burn off some of that pre-schooler energy, or tell them that together you are going to collect leaves, sticks, etc. to make a nature picture. Furthermore, if you do exercise regularly throughout your pregnancy, then some research suggests that you may find it easier in labour. Just make sure you don’t do anything too strenuous, particularly if you didn’t exercise much before you were pregnant, and remember to keep your fluids topped up.
Join Mother and Toddler Groups
There are probably a myriad of mother and toddler groups in your area. Your NHS health visitor will probably have a list, or you can ask your local National Childbirth Trust branch or SureStart centre for information. These will allow you to enjoy a cup of tea and chat with other Mums whilst your toddler can play with new toys and other children. Keeping your toddler occupied is a great way of avoiding tantrums, which can be difficult to deal with when you are feeling tired. Alternatively, if you have a friend with a child, consider inviting them to a local soft play centre. Most have café areas where you can sit and watch your children whilst they can run around safely.
Involve Your Toddler In Day To Day Activities
Toddlers love being involved in what they perceive to be “grown-up” jobs, and now is the time to take advantage of that. Remember, it’s all about keeping your toddler occupied, so try and include them when doing daily tasks. You could get them to fill the washing machine with laundry, it might take a while but it saves you bending down to do it. They can also help you when in the supermarket by reaching things off the lower shelves (though be aware of breakables) and they will love being told how helpful they are.
Encourage The “I Can Do It Myself” Mentality
Toddlers can be fiercely independent, often wanting to show you how they can do things by themselves. Take advantage of this by encouraging them to walk up and down the stairs (with supervision) or climb into their car seat. Whilst lifting your toddler during pregnancy shouldn’t give you too many problems (unless your GP or midwife has advised you otherwise) it is better to avoid it if you can. If your toddler is in a stage of refusing to sit in a pushchair, consider getting a buggy board such as this one from Mothercare, as your toddler will probably find it fun to ride on instead.
If you do need to lift your toddler, then make sure you do it properly, by bending your knees and keeping your back upright.
Lower Your Expectations And Seek Help Where You Can
If you have always been a house-proud domestic goddess then it’s time to put that aside in favour of rest of relaxation. Yes, your house may get a little dusty, the laundry might pile up and the washing up might only be done once a day, but put that to one side and focus on yourself instead. If you can afford to get a cleaner in for a couple of hours a week, then great. Talk to your partner about them taking on extra household duties for a few months, or consider asking a friend or family member for help if you can.
Take Naps With Your Toddler
If your toddler is still napping during the day then make sure you try and nap with them. Even if you only lie down and close your eyes without sleeping, you are still getting some much-needed rest. Don’t be tempted to use the quiet time to get household chores done, instead, focus on yourself and what your body needs.
Consider Extra Childcare
Can you afford to put your toddler into a few hours of extra childcare per week? If so, then go for it and use that time to relax, get a mother-to-be massage, or take a snooze. Alternatively, if you’ve got parents or in-laws nearby that are willing, pack off your toddler to theirs for the day. Just remind them to go easy on the sugary treats!
Don’t Be Afraid To Be Lazy
Now is not the time to worry about taking your toddler on exciting trips out or coming up with fun activities for them in the home. If you’ve been strict on TV usage before, consider becoming a bit more relaxed about it during this time. An hour of CBeebies a day won’t do your child any harm, and it will give you the chance to sit down or even lie down on the sofa. You can also give your toddler quiet activities to do, such as drawing or play-doh.
Talk To Your Toddler
You probably won’t want to tell your toddler about your pregnancy for the first few months, but after a while he or she will soon start to pick up on the fact that your belly is growing and there is a lot of talk about babies in the house. Talk to your toddler about the fact that there is a baby growing inside you and explain that this means you cannot always do the things they want you to do. Your toddler might need lots of reassurance, or they might accept it perfectly well. You can make them feel involved by asking them to pick something to buy for the nursery or even getting them to sing songs to your tummy. This will not only help your toddler prepare for the new baby’s arrival, but help them to understand your own limitations.