Pregnancy When You Already Have Children
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Nancy Cohen : Having more than one child can make future pregnancy more challenging. After all, children need your undivided attention, despite morning sickness, extreme fatigue or other symptoms you may be experiencing. How can you be the best mom possible and still prepare your little ones for the new arrival? I'm Nancy Cohen, a child development and behavior specialist, and this is Preggie Pals, episode 46.
Sunny Gault : Welcome to Preggie Pals, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. I'm your host, Sunny Gault. Thanks to all of our loyal listeners who have joined the Preggie Pals Club. Our members get access to all of our archived episodes, plus special giveaways and discounts. You'll also get a one year free subscription to Pregnancy Magazine. You can visit our website for more information and to sign up. Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free Preggie Pals app, available in the Android and iTunes marketplace. So let's meet our panelists joining us here in the studio today. Amy, let's start with you.
Amy Askin : Hi, I'm Amy Askin and I am a mom, work at home mom, I blog at BelovedAtmosphere.com, where I talk about parenting, and education, and traveling with kids, and all kinds of other fun stuff that I feel like talking about. I also run our vacation rental business here in San Diego. I have three little girls, age 8, 3 and 1 month. And they were all born naturally, without intervention, the last two were born with hypnobabies, which is a hypno birthing program.
Sunny Gault : Yeah, we actually did an episode about that a while back, so if you guys are curious, you guys can just type in “hypnobabies” in the search function on our website and pull up that episode. OK Chell, your turn.
Chell Roman : Hi, I'm Chell Roman, I am 28, I own The Swattle Sprout, a natural parenting resource here in San Diego. I have two boys, a two and a half year old and a one year old. I actually did hypnobirthing, not hypnobabies, but I loved it.
Sunny Gault : Thank you ladies for joining us today.
[Theme Music][Featured Segments: News Headlines]
Sunny Gault : Here is a headline that is making rounds around the internet, it is gone viral and it is about a birth announcement for an adopted boy. Calley Higgins is a birth photographer, and she takes a lot of pictures of newborn babies and she was sitting around the table, talking with some of her children and her 13 year-old adopted boy had mentioned he never had newborn photos before – actually, I think its her daughter that suggested this, that they do a newborn photoshoot with the 13 year-old in newborn positions. You guys all know what I'm talking about. And they created this birth announcement and she posted it online just for giggles, and it is gone viral. Everybody just adores this thing, so I wanted to get your opinions, have you seen this yet? And what do you think of this announcement? Amy, what do you think?
Amy Askin : I can't get over how adorable it is, I saw it right when it came out, and it's just adorable, I think he is adorable, because what 13 year-old boy would do this? He's got such a great confidence level and what an awesome family, what a cool opportunity for all of them to witness.
Sunny Gault : She said that she's been getting a lot of emails from adoptive parents that want to do something similar or even parents that never did photos with their kids as newborns, but now they thought that why not? I think this birth announcement even has his weight, 113 pounds, obviously a lot different than what a newborn would be, but it's funny. What do you think, Chell?
Chell Roman : I think it's great, I saw it when it came out as well, and I thought it was lovely, there is a lot comments from people saying that they were looking to adopt babies and they now were looking to adopt older kids. And I thought that was wonderful. It's so important, these kids don't have homes because they're not babies.
Sunny Gault : It puts a different spin on it.
Chell Roman : You can still get those special moments, even though they are not a newborn anymore.
Sunny Gault : Exactly. Nancy, I'm curious what your take is on this, having worked with children?
Nancy Cohen : I think it's fantastic, I agree with Amy that this young man is so amazing that he would want to do this, that he would have a sense of humor and feel connected to the family. And that the other children in the family were also very supportive. I think it's fantastic, really really great.
Amy Askin : For his self-esteem.
Nancy Cohen : And it went viral, I think it's great that it happened at all, but then even getting lots of news talk and I think that's also good for him and for the family.
Sunny Gault : And I just love that the daughter suggested it, I think that's such a cool thing, even though she is a photographer, it wasn't like she didn't have an agenda, it wasn't like, “Let's see if I can make this go viral and help my business”, I think as a result this has happened, but it just starts with her daughter saying, “You know what, my brother doesn't have newborn photos, wouldn't that be kind of funny?”
Chell Roman : And mom accepted it, she said yes! Let's do it!
Sunny Gault : Today we're exploring what pregnancy is like when you already have children, and Nancy Cohen is joining us here in the studio. Nancy is a child development and behavior specialist, who has been seeing families for more than 13 years. Nancy, welcome to Preggie Pals.
Nancy Cohen : Thank you so much, I'm happy to be here.
Sunny Gault : So, in general, what are parents most concerned about when they find out that they are pregnant again?
Nancy Cohen : They have lots of concerns. Parents are very thoughtful about this, they worry about the balance of the family, how is this going to change what we've already gotten used to doing, I already got this older child, she's kind of used to being in this family, I am adapted to the ways that she is, sleep-wise, food-wise, we have a schedule going on, and they don't want to be disrupting the balance and worrying about sleeping, being exhausted again, starting over again. And financially too I think, given the culture and what's going on with us around in terms of finances and jobs and all of that. I think people are worried about how they are going to afford another baby.
Sunny Gault : Another college fund.
Nancy Cohen : Exactly, right. Thinking forward, you're not even thinking about birth, you're thinking about college. So I think these are the kinds of concerns that they have, how it's going to change the relationship between partners – now you don't have enough time together, with a second baby, how is that going to impact? People have a lot of concerns on a lot of different areas. And I think some of that has to do with how is the older child going to adapt. What's going to happen with this older child or children when this new baby comes, are they going to be upset, how are they going to react, in a positive way, a negative way? There is a lot of thinking going on and that's a good thing. To be prepared and to know ahead of time. This is a huge change.
Sunny Gault : Sometimes, as parents, I think we worry though a little bit too much. We may have these concerns, but in your practice, do you see these being really big problems amongst people that come to see you?
Nancy Cohen : Yes and no. Of course, people come in to see me because they have some issues. But I also do work a lot with families who aren't having a lot of issues, and I think some of it also has to do with the temperaments of the children involved. And the parents too of course. But if you get a baby, you get the new baby who's choleric, has a lot of reflexes, crying a lot, not sleeping, that's a very different experience than having a new baby who is sleeping and it's easier, you have more time for the older baby. So I think some of the concerns are valid and you need to be prepared and have a blueprint for how you are going to sort or handle things if this happens, what resources you have .But then the reality sets in and you guys now, you've had your babies.
Sunny Gault : What were your concerns when you found out that you were pregnant? In Chell's case, you have two children, so pregnant a second time, what went through your mind?
Chell Roman : When I got pregnant with my second I still had a baby. My concern wasn't so much with my older, because I thought he is so young, he's probably just going to adapt so fine, and luckly he did pretty good on that, but I was more concerned with how am I going to have the energy for my 1 year-old and my newborn? And it was hard, I'm not going to lie. But as the worry goes, I feel like myh. pregnancy with my second was a lot less stressful compared to my pregnancy with my first; partly because I am taking care of a baby already, I didn't have time to deal with the stress of the pregnancy. And on the other hand, I knew what to expect, I didn't have that same fear, “Am I actually going to have a baby?”, like I had with my first, this time was, “Alright, I'm going to have a baby and it will be fine, I will be fine”.
Sunny Gault : So your pregnancy evolved pretty similar, you didn't have anything different?
Chell Roman : Yeah. I think with my first it was a little harder, I had that morning sickness. With my second I think I just didn't have time to deal with it. So I just did it and it was fine. I needed more naps with my first pregnancy than with my second. Yeah, your body just adapts, I think. At least my did, luckly.
Sunny Gault : So Amy, what was going through your mind, you have three kids now but you have more space in-between your kids.
Amy Askin : We do, and that was intentional, after number one we were, “one and done”. She is a high maintainance little person. My neighbor, my very hippie neighbor, when she saw her, at only four months-old, she said, “What is this personality? She is a Leo”, and then she gave me a book about all the different horoscopes and the signs, and I said, “Oh, OK, that explains a lot”. That being said, she is a wonderful, delightful, sweet kind spirit, and loves being on stage. When we were contemplating having number two, we said we really want a sibling for her, that was always the focus. I have so many friends who are the only child in their family, and we just said to be fair to her, we want to have a second. We went into it a lot different than a lot of people do. We prepared her mentally, because she is so at the center of the Universe as a person anyway. Everyone is different, and we respected that and honored that. Our philosophy is when you have children you spoil them, and so our day to day was “Oh”, I would pretend to hold something, “Mommy has two busy hands” instead of – I've seen people often put all the energy and the focus on the older, and then the baby is just kind of, “Well, we don't want to disrupt what's been going on”. For us, we figured that it would probably be better to prepare her mentally, physically, everything, “OK, this is another person, it's going to take mommy and daddy time and energy”. And I will tell you, without fail, until she was three years old, we didn't have an issue at all. She was a wonderful big sister, she pitched in, she was all on board. We never had the weird, “Oh, she tried to bite the baby”, we didn't have one of those episodes at all to our knowledge. She has been a dream, and now with number three she is again just phenomenal. Our number two is struggling a little bit, but still, she is two and a half years old, again, we spaced them.
Sunny Gault : Right. At what point did you tell your children that you were pregnant?
Amy Askin : We always wait, I'm superstitious, and this one, number three, we told them about a month and a half, two months in because we were going home, there was another event, we were going home to Ohio where our families live, and we were going to reveal the news there. I in fact told my parents and the kids at the same time, it was unconventional, but we said that we have to wait longer, because it's going to be every day for ten months, “When is the bay coming? When is the baby coming?”, so we tried to put it off for as long as possible.
Sunny Gault : And Chell, you didn't really do much explanation, right? It wouldn't have helped, he wouldn't have understood.
Chell Roman : No.
Sunny Gault : That's the same thing with me.
Chell Roman : He was 17 months-old when his brother was born, he really didn't know what hit him. We were preparing him more for the fact that his grandmother was going to watch him for two days. Because he'd never been away from us at night. So that was more what I was worried about. I wasn't worried about how he would react with the baby.
Sunny Gault : So Nancy, what is your recommendation when it comes to telling the kids about another pregnancy, and I know it depends on the age of the kids.
Nancy Cohen : It depends on the age and how curious they are about these kinds of things, how tuned in they are to what's going on in the family. And it sounds like your 5 years-old was really tuned in, he could see that you weren't feeling well, you were sick, so I think that when you have kids who are asking questions or curious, then you tell them, “Mommy is having a baby, mommy is pregnant”. With little ones, under 2, I would wait until a month before or when you're beginning to show, obviously, more than a month. But just to let them now that there is another baby in mommy's belly, and that they will be having a baby brother or sister, whatever. So it depends on the age of the child and how inquisitive they are, and how much you're talking about this in front of them. I really feel like education empowers children, so if you're talking about it around them, then it's important to clue them into the conversation, so they don't feel like this is a big mysterious thing, they're part of what's going on in the family. I think that's important. But some kids are just totally oblivious, “No problem, I'm going to play with my trucks”, and others are like wow! What's going on with you, mommy?
Sunny Gault : Does that vary, I'm just curious, between gender?
Amy Askin : I was just going to say, I wonder if girls are slightly more in tune with that.
Sunny Gault : Because they are more like mommy, so a change in mommy – they may see that as a change they could have in themselves.
Nancy Cohen : Exactly, I do think that literature does support that in general, again, some boys are very interested and some girls aren't. But I do think that it's a gender thing.
Chell Roman : My three year-old asks every female that she sees, “Do you have a baby in your belly?”, and then I am always, “She's just asking 'cause I'm pregnant! It's nothing, trust me!”
Sunny Gault : So can children sense pregnancy? Are there any studies to support that?
Nancy Cohen : Again, I don't know if it's sensing the pregnancy as much as sensing something is going on, and then hearing things. My daughter used to say, when I would think that she wasn't hearing anything that was going on in the family, I'd be on the phone two rooms over from her, while she was doing something else, and later she would say, I didn't know so and so was having a baby, I didn't knew aunt was getting divorced, and I'm like, “What? How do you know this?”, and she would say, “'Well, I have one antenna on the TV, and one antenna on what you were talking about”. And we were rooms away and I though she was engaged, watching TV, now is the time to talk! Things happen around children, and we don't think they're very sensitive, but they are very tuned into mom but you don't notice. You're just tuned into your kids, and they are tuned into you. I do think they pickup something is going on, there is a change.
Sunny Gault : I always know that I am pregnant when my dog starts acting weird. Seriously, I have a puddle, I swear he would know before I do that I am pregnant; and he starts being very protective over me, and he wants to cuddle even near my belly, it's a really weird thing.
Amy Askin : We have cats, and they don't like me. Unless I am pregnant. They would lay all over me and my husband would come to me, asking what's going on.
Sunny Gault : You turned into a cat lady.
Amy Askin : Yeah...
Sunny Gault : OK, so how much should you share with your children about the pregnancy? Do you have any thoughts on that? A lot of parents like to get them directly involved, they go to the appointments and all of that, and again, I'm sure this goes back to the child and how involved the child wants to be. But what are some things to consider?
Nancy Cohen : The age of the child for sure, and how much you're comfortable with, some people are more comfortable with sharing more information than other people are. It depends on your family dynamic, the culture of your family, but again, education is empowerment, so if you can really kind of let children know that, I think their concerns become less. Kids are symbolic thinkers, they fantasy, and very concrete. And so I think it takes away some of that fantasy, when you can tell them what's going on, what's happening and what to expect, when you're buying new clothes for the baby, and get the room set up, and whatever you are doing, they know something is going on. So I think explaining – this is what it's going to be like to have a new baby. And I like that you were honest, this isn't all fun and games. It's going to be great, and babies cry, mommy is going to be holding the baby a lot, that can be hard for you, so to be really honest and be open to talking about him. And not just push the child aside, “Oh, you're just a kid so it doesn't really matter”, but to really try to include them in a way that feels right within your own family culture. I think communication is key, for everything, but also for dealing with the ultimate coming of a new baby.
Sunny Gault : So let's say you have two children, and you find that you are pregnant with your third. Your oldest adapted really well to the second baby, you haven't had many problems there; is it safe to say that they will probably adapt well to a third or a fourth? Or is this just totally depending on the situation?
Nancy Cohen : Again, I think it's depending on the situation, their relationship with the younger siblings, if there are good relationships with the younger siblings and things are going well they may be more receptive, because their experiences – this is a positive thing. Sometimes, if they don't have a good relationship with the second and they felt a little bit threatened by the other child, then they may feel a little more threatened, again, “Oh my God, this is happening again! The worst day of my life!” I had a kid that told me that, “The worst day of my life was when my sister was born”, but she's working on it and realizing that that's not the case, and there are a lot of positives in their relationship as well, but I do think that it just depends, again. There's nothing written in stone, I wish there would, it would make life so much easier, but it really depends on the temperaments of your other kids and their experiences with each other. And I think the age difference as well.
Sunny Gault : Amy, what has been your experience?
Nancy Cohen : I would say that for the first half of my pregnancy, with number 3, I felt like everybody was on board, because we really – my husband and I made it a priority to “force” them to be best friends, my parents never really encouraged that. This is your best friends for life, and this will be the person when mommy and daddy are gone, this is going to be your only person in your life that you can say you shared everything with. It sounds kind of convoluted and crazy, but I think that formed a better relationship and allowed them to be like that.
Sunny Gault : OK, when we come back we're going to learn about the concerns your children may have when it comes to your pregnancy and a new baby. Plus, what advice does Nancy have for keeping up with the physical demands of being pregnant. We'll be right back.
Sunny Gault : Welcome back, today we are talking about pregnancy when you have other children. Our guest is Nancy Cohen, she is a child development and behavior specialist. So, Nancy, what common concerns do children have when mommy and daddy say, guess what, another baby is on the way? I would imagine a lot of it has to do with just the time that it's going to take, and the attention, is that what you primarily see?
Nancy Cohen : Exactly, and I think too, depending on how the pregnancy is going for the mom. If moms are really really sick, it's harder for the child, for the child that you have or the two children that you already have, because you already don't have enough time for them, you're not feeling well, you can hardly deal with things you've been dealing with, and so for those kids we really see an impact, “I already don't like this! This might be taking mommy away”. Some kids are also very empathic about that, they don't like seeing mommy sick and they want to be helpful and help mommy feel better, and what can they do... it depends on the kids, again. I think by the end of the pregnancy, when there's a lot of attention being spent on preparing for the new baby, that's when I think they start getting a little bit nervous about how this is going to impact their life. And they ask questions in different ways, obviously, depending on how old they are. An older child, an 8 year-old could say, “How is this going to impact my life? This is going to be different, what's happening here?”, they can actually ask a very direct question. Little kids are more like behavioral, it's not necessarily going to be a conversation, talking with you about it. It's more like acting out or getting negative attention.
Sunny Gault : So tantrum is in sight.
Nancy Cohen : Tantrum, being defiant, just being a little bit angry at mom. And I've also noticed that after the birth is well, there are a lot of kids who will be lovely with the baby, very loving attentive and happy and, “Oh, I have a new sister, I'm a big brother”, whatever it is, but they are really mad at mom. Really mad at mom.
Sunny Gault : That's good, they don't take it out on the baby at least.
Nancy Cohen : Exactly. A lot of kids take it out on mommy. And not daddy, mommy.
Sunny Gault : Well 'cause mommy is pregnant. Mommy had that baby, not daddy.
Nancy Cohen : Right, mommy was the one that betrayed me. So I think that you can see some behavior changes, you guys would know because you are living with kids, how did it affect your children?
Chell Roman : Cyler was always a fairly aggressive kid, so were a little worried when I was pregnant, “Is he going to hit the baby? Is he going to throw things at him like he does with the kids at playgroup?” Like you said, he did really well, he's never really had, until Rook started walking, Cy was pretty good. When he was still in his swing, in my arms, he was pretty good with him.
Sunny Gault : We've been talking a lot about the emotional side of connecting with the pregnancy and getting your kids involved; Chell brought up a really good point there, and that is, when you're pregnant, sometimes you're just so physically tired. So Nancy, what ideas do you have for women who are going through this, for couples who are experiencing this? I'm actually scared to death, if I have another child, I'm worn out now. Last week I was feeling under the weather and I was like, “Oh my gush!”, and I actually thought that I could feel like this if I were pregnant. And how will I keep up with two children? Anyways, what advice do you have on that?
Nancy Cohen : Women are strong. You do what you have to do, it's just amazing to me that we can take on so much. Childbirth itself. I think that it's important to have a good partner, and good communication with your partner, talk about if you're not feeling well what are the options. Extended family, if you have extended family, it can be helpful. The grandmother can take the kids and you can have some time off. A lot of us don't have extended family, so friends are sometimes helpful. Where they can take your kids for an hour or whatever and you can have a little bit of time to take a nap or do something to renew your spirit and your energy, because it's really important that we do that. There's no doubt about it, get sleep if you can, and take good care of yourself. What did you guys do?
Chell Roman : A lot of that. A lot of playdates. Even just having friends come over and kind of breaking up the monotony.
Sunny Gault : Or getting some adult time maybe.
Chell Roman : Exactly.
Amy Askin : Yeah, I would say that playdates were huge, I have friends who have had multiples before I did, and so they were very much instrumental, and say, “OK, I'm going to come over for a playdate”, you know, and we would be like, “The house isn't clean” or whatever, and I was so glad, because even if your child is engaged with a peer, it takes so much away from you. Even if they're having their little disagreements, you're still just referee instead of fully engaged, you know, a child asking for something all the time. And you would be shocked, I never thought I was having more than one baby, but I'm just a baby junky, I love kids. And your body just takes over.
Nancy Cohen : You do what you do, because you're a woman and you are amazing.
Sunny Gault : Do you think it's important when we are feeling overwhelmed like that to tell your child that mommy isn't feeling so good right now? Or is that putting so much attention on the baby? Can it have a reverse effect?
Nancy Cohen : I think it's good to be honest, give the truth. Mommy's not feeling well so it's hard for me to be patient today, whatever it is.
Amy Askin : My daughter doesn't like that answer, I get a lot of backtalk. “I'm so sick of this baby and it's not even here yet!” I was just being honest, you don't get to be honest...
Nancy Cohen : But then she is honest with you, yeah!
Amy Askin : Right, so I think we acknowledged it, I understand, it's really hard, it's frustrating that mommy is not as patient as I could be. So we acknowledge it, it's true. I think we tell them we're not feeling well. I used to tell my daughter, even when I was feeling well, if I was impatient. I wasn't in a good mood and today wasn't a good day to push me. That didn't mean that she would go, “Oh, OK, great” , often they are like, “Well, tough luck! I'm going to be bad anyway”. But I think that they have to know what's going on.
Sunny Gault : OK, well, Nancy, thank you so much for joining us today. For more information about Nancy and her practice, as well as information about our panelists, visit the episode page on our website. This conversation continues for members of our Preggie Pals Club, after the show, Nancy will share some tips on things you can do to help get your children ready for the new baby. And we'll also share some recommendations from our Facebook friends.
[Theme Music][Featured Segments: Ask the Experts]
Sunny Gault : We have a question from one of our listeners, this is from Angela of Nashville, and Angela says, “I'm pregnant in my second trimester. I think my seasonal allergies are kicking in, cough, watery eyes, sore throat, sinus pressure. They're not horrible bad, but it's also triggering my asthma, and I hate being a slave to my inhaler. The medicine I've taken in previous years is a definite no no during pregnancy. Are there any home remedies I can try?”
Tara Zandvliet : Hello Angela, this is Dr. Tara Zandvliet. Talking about your allergies, they can be a real problem during pregnancy. The key is to reduce your exposure to the cause of your allergies, and then to get your nose wet, wet, wet. You can irrigate with a nasal spray, that's your best bet, steam inhalation helps too. Of course, drink a lot of water. And then, any anti-inflammatory foods will help. For example, ginger, garlic, and even the old fashion stand-by chicken soup. They just had a study showing it's anti-inflammatory, grandma knew best. Eat a lot of anti-oxidants, and Omega-3s, and you can add 15 mg of zyncadone, that could also improve your defense against getting a cold. One thing to stop is the postnasal drip, which is the main trigger for your asthma. There's a nasal spray called Nasal Chrome. It's proven safe in pregnancy. You use two sprays each nostril, three or four times a day. Acupuncture, and Chinese herbs can work wonders, you should find a very knowledgeable practitioner of Chinese medicine, and tell them you're pregnant. Usually, they will only to the application to the ears and it's considered generally safe in pregnancy, but ask when you go. Don't ingest anything though, or nothing by mouth. If the cause of your allergies is seasonal, from the trees and pollens, get a really good hepa filter, for your home, and also one for your vacuum cleaner. And then using an air cleaner in the room where you are is a good idea. Are you congested? There are some natural food decongestions, like hot mustard, chilli peppers, that will clear those sinuses up pretty well. And as for the asthma, black tea, it has an anti asthma effect from the type of caffeine it has. This is not the same as coffee, this is not the same as energy drinks, black tea has the specific type of caffein that is very similar to an old asthma medicine, and it helps as well. The dosing would be about one mug, up to three times a day, it's safe in pregnancy. And, if you're desperate, good old fashioned benigril can be used if you're really having severe symptoms. It's pretty safe in pregnancy.
Sunny Gault : That wraps up our show for today, we appreciate you listening to Preggie Pals. Don't forget to check out our sister show Parent Savers for parents with newborns, infants and toddlers, and our show the Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies. Next weel, we're talking about maternity leave, how can the family medical leave and other programs help you spend as much time as possible with your baby. This is Preggie Pals, your pregnancy, your way.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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