There is a pretty funny meme about pregnancy that shows a woman pregnant with her first child lamenting to a woman with baby and toddler about how tired she is – while the woman with the children knows her tiredness may have only just begun.
There is a particular tiredness we feel during our first pregnancy that we look back on almost fondly with later pregnancies – because once you add one or more other children to the mix, your level of exhaustion takes on a whole new level. To help with this we have put together some tips, tricks and general good advice for dealing with your active toddler while pregnant with twins.
But it’s not all tears and tiredness – we can obviously get a handle on the side effects of being pregnant even if we are dealing with an active toddler at the same time – or else throughout time second siblings just wouldn’t get born!
Tips for coping with an active toddler while pregnant with twins and multiples
Side effects of pregnancy
Being pregnant has all sorts of symptoms and side effects for you, that vary across your nine-month term. Many of these are uncomfortable and inconvenient, and may not fit easily in with life with a busy and active toddler in tow.
Medical experts also tend to report that the symptoms of pregnancy are stronger when carrying twins or multiple babies.
Some of the most common side effects you will experience when pregnant with twins include:
- Morning sickness
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
- High blood pressure
- Water retention
Most of these side effects mean you have to take things a little bit easy – which is the last thing your toddler wants to do!
Some ways you might be able to reduce your symptoms
Keep your outings relatively short and close to home. Stay where you are near easy conveniences such as water and snacks, a toilet, somewhere climate-controlled and somewhere you can sit down if you need to.
Carry small snacks with you (you probably do this anyway being the mum of a toddler) such as apple juice, ginger ale, and dry biscuits, to keep your nausea at bay and your blood sugar levels stable.
Tiredness and daytime naps plus an active toddler while pregnant with twins and multiples
Yes, you will get tired and need to rest when you are pregnant with twins. Sometimes your toddler will co-operate and have a nap so you can give yourself a break, but often he won’t.
Try to not stress too much about getting your toddler to have their nap as scheduled or stay in their bed – just do what works.
Let your toddler snuggle next to you on the couch or in your bed to give you a rest. Pop some toddler-loved viewing on the tv or your phone while you take a quick nap. Another good idea is to enlist your toddler in a game that lets you lie down while playing, such as:
- Mummy is a patient in the hospital and needs to be bandaged from head to toe
- Lie on the floor and let your child drive cars on your back for a little massage
- Play ‘dead fish’ and see who can lie still and quiet for the longest
- Go camping inside and build a fort, then take a nap in it
- Play ‘salon’ and let your child brush your hair or paint your toenails
Carrying your toddler while pregnant with twins and multiples
Your pregnant body will feel different the second time around, for a number of reasons. When your body has been pregnant before it feels the effects much sooner the second time, ‘showing’ sooner and generally loosening up earlier in your term.
If you haven’t studiously done your post-baby pelvic-floor exercises after your first baby, you will feel earlier effects on your body with your second. This may include back pain, hip problems, weak bladder, and general pelvic instability.
On top of this, you are carrying more than one baby with this pregnancy. So, when your toddler wants to be picked up, and this will happen an awful lot, you need to be careful you don’t cause yourself extra strain.
How to pick up your toddler while pregnant with twins:
- Bend from your knees and not from your waist or back
- Contract your pelvic floor
- When you stand up put the strength into your legs
- Hold your child on your hip or under your bump
If anything hurts, you might be over-exerting yourself. Exercise caution with this one. It might be better to just crouch down to your toddler and interact on his level rather than bringing him up to yours.
Building the foundation of a lovely sibling relationship
From the moment you find out that you are expecting again, even if you don’t yet know it is twins or more, your first thought might go to your toddler. How is your older child going to take the news?
What can you do from the beginning to build the foundation of a lovely sibling-twin/triplet relationship?
Here are some handy tips for telling an older child that you are expecting:
- Don’t go for large gestures or fanfare – just have a quiet conversation at home between you, your partner and your child.
- Choose a time when you are not rushed and your child is content, fed and rested.
- Whatever response you get (and you could get a variety of them) try to roll with it.
- Be simple and straightforward, and be prepared for some basic explanation of how a baby is grown in your belly.
- It can be best to wait until you are showing a little bit, and also once you don’t mind other people knowing, because your toddler might start sharing the news.
Over the coming months take any opportunity to remind your older child how important he is, and always will be, no matter what changes occur when the babies come.
It can help to get your older child their own ‘babies’ and help them learn to take care of them, such as feeding, bathing, putting to bed etc.
Help your older child choose a present and wrap a present to give to your babies when they are born. You should also buy a present for your older child from your babies, so they have something special in all of the excitement of your new ones being born.
For more tips, please see our blog post on “Bringing home twins or triplets when you have a toddler”
Coping with your active toddler while pregnant with twins or triplets is difficult, there is no denying it. Rest when you can and enjoy any one or one time you have with your toddler before you are joined by your newborns.
Try to relax and reduce your stress as much as you can; learn to let the little things slide and not get too caught up in worrying about things you can’t control. This is wonderful advice for when your babies join your family as well!