Third trimester –preparing for baby number 2!

I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy is going and now I’m well into the third trimester I thought I’d share some preparations we’ve been doing for baby number 2 – both practical and emotional 🙂

preparing for baby number 2

Preparing Archie for his new sister

Given his age (currently 20 months), we haven’t really explained to Arch that he’s going to have a baby sister because we feel he’s too young to understand and any mention of it seems to go ignored at the moment! But he has started going to nursery for 2 mornings a week to get him well settled in before she arrives. This is the first time me and him have really spent apart and selfishly it wasn’t something I was too keen on but I think it’s definitely best for the long-term. My attention will obviously be split when the new baby arrives and I want to make sure he gets enough stimulation and social interaction. Plus I’m already finding that I can be more focussed during the time we do spend together so hopefully it will benefit him in both ways.

Practical preparations

The new baby’s nursery is coming together well and although it’s not necessary for it to be fully ready as soon as baby is born (because she will sleep with us for the first few months) it’s something that I want to do so I can feel fully organised. All the furniture is in and it just needs a bit of organising and a few pictures up for it to feel finalised. I’ve also been sorting through all of Archie’s old clothes and seeing what we can reuse or anything new we might need. I’m yet to start the mammoth task that is washing it all though – eek!

Although I plan to try and breastfeed, I’m also getting everything sorted for bottle feeding (new teats and bottles, setting up the Perfect Prep machine and sterilisers) so that we have a Plan B should we need it.

We’ve now bought the adapters for our pram (iCandy Orange) so we just need to work out what combination will work best for it to be converted into a double.

I’ve also read that it’s a good idea to get all toys/ equipment out for the baby 2-3 weeks before our due date so Archie has a chance to familiarise and will no doubt lose interest in them by the time baby arrives.

Childcare during labour

Although we don’t have family who live near us, my parents are about an hour and a half drive away and have kindly offered to stay at ours and look after Archie when the new baby arrives. This is a huge weight off my mind because it’s a potentially unsettling time for Arch but I know with my mum and dad around he will be spoilt with attention and probably won’t even notice we’re gone. My husband commutes daily into London which is about an hour and a half away too so I’m just hoping if I go into labour, I will spot the signs early enough for everyone to get to me in time! Having been induced last time, and because I laboured quickly, this is something that’s playing on my mind a little but I do have some lovely mummy friends locally who could hopefully hold down the fort in the meantime, if it really came to it!

Introducing the siblings

I’ve been giving this quite a lot of thought and although in my head I always pictured a sweet moment of Archie meeting his little sister in hospital, I’m now thinking it’s probably best for Arch not to come into hospital at all. I think it would be really unsettling for him, especially if we have to then say goodbye and I can’t leave with him. So hopefully I won’t have a long stay in hospital and we can bring his sister home to meet him instead. I’ve read up some tips on how best to introduce your second born to your first so I thought I’d share these in case they’re useful:

  • Don’t hold your baby when first introducing– make sure your arms are free to give your first born as many cuddles as they need for reassurance
  • Introduce baby as “your baby sister”
  • Try to make the environment as non-medical as possible so it’s not frightening
  • Ask firstborn if he’d like to stroke or cuddle his new sister but don’t force it
  • Allow and accept any reaction – it’s a big confusing moment for them
  • If you want to document the moment then get someone else to take photos/ videos – you want to be there to support your firstborn as much as possible

Preparing to feel all the mum guilt

Ah this is one which I’m already feeling to be honest with you but I know that it’s just the beginning! I think it’s important to know it’s totally normal to feel like this though and that it just reflects how much you care and love your children. The below are a few areas of guilt that I’m expecting to feel but no doubt the reality will be slightly different:

  • Turning Archie’s world upside down and any negative reaction from him
  • Not being able to devote as much time to the new baby as I did the first time with Archie
  • Breastfeeding guilt – something I experienced quite badly first time round so I’m hoping to be much kinder to myself this time if breastfeeding doesn’t work out
  • Feeling like I’m not doing anything well and we’re just about surviving!

Interestingly that last point is something I felt constantly during Archie’s first year and I found striving purely for survival quite a depressing prospect to be honest. But having lived through it, I know that things do get easier, the good days do get more frequent and parts of your old life (before children) do come back again so I’m hoping that I don’t forget this easily and it can help get me through when everything feels a bit overwhelming.

Expecting chaos!

It’s strange looking back to the first few months of having Archie because I remember feeling like things were chaotic then and a bit all over the place (I’m a typical Virgo in that I love routine so this was tough!).

But this time round, I know there will be plenty more chaos in the house! And I’ll probably rarely feel on top of everything which is a bit daunting but I’m hoping that maintaining Archie’s structure (of sleeping, eating, nursery, classes) will help to give me a bit more of the routine I craved last time.

One thing I’ve heard from speaking to other mums is that it’s easy, particularly in the early days, to let someone else look after your firstborn whilst you get to grips with the new baby. But that actually this can be unsettling for your firstborn so it’s important to give them as much love and attention as you can as a way of reassurance.

I’m also aware that the firstborn can display a few behaviour changes as they deal with the emotions that can come from having a new baby in the house. This could be being more clingy than normal, not wanting affection from their parents, eating regressions, problems sleeping, increased tantrums etc. So I’m preparing myself for this and will try to be as understanding and as empathetic as I can, knowing it’s not personal, but just a time of adjustment for us all.

Self-care

It sounds a bit cliché and self-care seems to be the new buzzword, but one of the main things I’ve learnt since becoming a parent is that to be the best mum I can be, I need to take care of myself and ensure that I’m not always bottom of the priority list! For me, doing some form of physical exercise has always helped with my mental health so I’m hoping I can get back to doing maybe just one quick HIIT workout a week or a short run every now and again. But more importantly just finding a little “me time”, even if it’s just 5 mins of time to myself to clear my head and gain a little perspective – it’s very easy to get caught up in the bubble and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Are there any second-time parents out there who can offer more advice/ reassurance? I would love to hear it 🙂

Choosing a day nursery

From September, Archie will be starting at a local day nursery for a couple of mornings a week. It’s been a tough decision because selfishly I’d quite like to keep him at home with me 24/7 but I know it will be really good for him because he’s so sociable and loves exploring. Choosing the right nursery was quite a long process and it’s actually the second time I’ve done it as I’d chosen one where we lived previously too. I thought I’d share the main things I considered as part of the selection process in the hope that it might help you if you’re just starting out in your research.

day nursery

Location

Clearly this is crucial in making sure you’re not too far away in case of emergencies so consider whether it’s better to be closer to home or at work (should these be different).

Owner managed or a franchise?

Some nurseries are privately owned by one or a few people whereas some will fall under a larger national franchise chain. There are pros and cons to both here but it’s worth looking into how the nursery is structured and how much flexibility they have to make changes. It’s also a good idea to look at their history because it’s quite common for franchise chains to take over privately run nurseries and it can take them some time to embed their ethos/ structure.

Ofsted rating

It can be tempting to use this purely as your selection process and I think it’s a helpful guide (Excellent or Very Good ratings are generally preferred) but you have to take into account the date of the inspection, what was highlighted in the report and to bear in mind it’s only part of the overall picture.

Do they have a waiting list?

Some nurseries will be very popular so it’s common to have a waiting list. Usually nurseries will take more new entrants in September (coinciding with those starting school) but once you’ve decided on the nursery it’s worth getting your child’s name down as early as you can, especially if you’re returning to work.

Which weeks of the year is the nursery closed?

This is important if you’re working so you know the days when you won’t have childcare but it’s also a useful indicator of how their staff holiday works. If they close for so many weeks of the year, it’s generally a sign that staff won’t be allowed to take holiday at any other time which provides a level of consistency for your child.

Timings for drop-off and pick-up? Do they offer half-days?

Again pretty vital that you know the drop-off and pick-up times from a work perspective. And it can be useful to choose somewhere that offers half days to provide added flexibility.

Cost (inc. registration fee)

Clearly important and can vary a lot! Having looked at my local area (Bedfordshire) I’d say that around £70 a day is quite typical.

How big is the outside space and how often do the children play outside?

For me, this was key because Archie loves playing outside and I think it’s great to have somewhere they can run around and burn off some steam!

How many children are in each group and how are they grouped?

I’d say around 10-15 children per group (class) is quite standard and mostly it’s done on age but it’s good if they consider other development factors too such as ability to walk, talk etc.

What’s the child to staff ratio? And what’s the staff turnover?

Most nurseries will go by the statutory guideline:

  • 1:3 for 0-2 year olds
  • 1:4 for 2-3 year olds
  • 1:8 for 3-5 year olds

In terms of staff turnover, clearly you want this to be as low as possible to provide consistency for your child.

Will your child have a key worker? How is the key worker chosen?

It’s quite typical for a nursery to assign your child with a key worker who is their (and your) main source of contact. But it’s worth asking how that person is chosen and whether there is flexibility should your child build a better relationship with someone else.

How can you see your child’s progress and how do they log this?

Most will operate some form of online system where you can see photos and snippets of their day’s activities plus a more simplified paper daily report which summarises what they’ve eaten, how long they slept for, general mood etc.

Is food cooked on-site? Do they cater for allergies etc.?

Generally it’s better if food is cooked on-site and it’s great if they have a sample menu for you to look at so you can ensure there’s enough variety and that they cater for any allergies.

What kind of activities do they do? How is the day structured?

Most will do some form of outdoor play, indoor play, story time, music time, baking, colouring, painting etc. but it’s worth asking about how this is structured – clearly you want a bit of structure but too much can be difficult for younger children.

What’s the sleep environment like?

Some nurseries will be quite flexible and, for example, be happy to push your little one in their pushchair to get them to go to sleep. Whereas others will have a designated area for sleeping, which might just be a specific space on the floor. Speaking to my friends’ experiences though it’s worth bearing in mind that they will probably nap differently at nursery than they do at home – often they’re so stimulated that they tire themselves out enough to sleep pretty much anywhere!

What’s their discipline policy?

Personally I think it’s important to know this to ensure your discipline practices at home match what they do at nursery, otherwise it can be pretty confusing for your child.

How many settle-in sessions can you have before starting?

Some nurseries will offer a set amount of settle-in sessions whereas some will be very flexible and offer as many as your child needs before they’re fully comfortable.

Other external sources of recommendation

Personal experience is so valuable in providing you with a realistic view of what the nursery is like so it’s worth trying to speak to a few mums locally or asking on an online local mums group.

Overall impression when visiting

This is probably the most important and is a bit like buying a house. What’s the general feel of the nursery? Do the children look happy and engaged? Is there a good level of cleanliness? Are the staff friendly and how do they interact with the children?

If you get a good overall feeling about a nursery and you’re comfortable with all areas covered above then I don’t think you can go too far wrong. I would say the more you can communicate with them about your expectations and any specific needs you/ your child has the better – it has to be a two-way relationship and a joint effort to making it work.