Gearing up for a second child can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. There will be another person in your house soon and that means more diapers, less sleep, and a whole new family dynamic. While it may seem stressful now, know that you and your family will adjust in time and enjoy the ride. There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself, your family, and your home for your new addition’s impending arrival. Here are a few second pregnancy tips to help you gear up for round two.

It’s like riding a bicycle

Pregnancy the second go-around will feel vaguely familiar as you get into it. Whether you have a year in between pregnancies or six, think of it like riding a bike. Once you’re back in the swing of pregnancy, the familiar feelings will return. This time around you’ll likely show a little sooner and feel their first kicks earlier. Since your body has done this before you’ll be able to recognize the feelings earlier than last time and that can make it that much more special. Your changing body will feel a little more recognizable this time around since you’ve gone through it before. From those first few flutters to contractions, you’ll have a little better idea as to what’s going on.

Remember that every pregnancy is different

Even though you’ve done this before, remember that every pregnancy is different. If you were violently ill with morning sickness the first time, you might not be the second. Same goes for when everything happened. You might show a bump sooner the second time or your heartburn may start later, for example. Each baby and each pregnancy will be different so don’t always assume if you had a problem the first time you’ll have it again. Your doctor will monitor you closely for things like preeclampsia, pre-term labor, or gestational diabetes because these things can happen again in other pregnancies if you’ve had them before. The good news here is that your doctor will know to watch for them, and you’ll be able to manage your symptoms better since you’ve been down this road before.

Repeat pregnancy doesn’t mean repeat labor

In terms of labor and delivery, the second time around may be completely different than your first. If you had a c-section before, that doesn’t mean you’ll for sure have to have a c-section delivery again. If there’s no medical reason and you’re outside the recommended 18-month gap between children, you can speak with your doctor about a vaginal birth which is known as a V-BAC. These are generally very successful and you may prefer to try it if you plan on having more children after this one. With more than one or two c-sections there is more potential for risks.

If you had a successful vaginal delivery the first time, it’s the hope that you’ll be able to have another one. Just know that not everything goes as planned and if you end up needing to deliver differently, do whatever is best for you and your baby. While this isn’t always the case, it’s generally believed that your baby may come sooner with a second vaginal delivery. You can chalk this up to muscle memory and the fact that you may labor at home longer because you know what to expect. Just don’t wait too long to go into the hospital in case your second baby does come quicker after all.

Preparing your older child

For your older child, preparing them for a new baby can be different depending on their age. If they are under two years old, they may have noticed your growing baby bump but they may not fully grasp that there is a baby inside there. Start by talking to them about babies and their baby sibling as soon as you’re comfortable. Toddlers understand more than we think so you’ll be surprised with how much they can pick up. As you prepare your home and the new baby’s room, you can explain to them that you’ll be bringing a baby home soon. There are a number of great books available that talk about becoming a big brother or sister. You can also buy a baby doll for them to play with. Having them hold a baby and pretend to take care of it can help boost their excitement for when the real thing arrives.

If you have older children at home who can understand a little more, talk openly about your pregnancy and their new brother or sister. Make sure to ask them how they are feeling about it and involve them as much as possible. Showing them ultrasound pictures and having them feel when baby kicks can help them feel connected to their new sibling. With any age child, know that there will be jealously and this is totally normal. Do your best to still get one on one time with your other child after you bring your new baby home. Those moments alone with just the two of you will feel so much more special after the baby arrives. This can really help them still feel connected to you.

Preparing your home: Second pregnancy tips

The few weeks and months before your baby comes is a great time to start washing old baby clothes and blankets and getting your diaper caddy and diaper bag filled with newborn items again. If you have a toddler at home, this won’t require too much extra work since you’re likely still using a lot of your diapering materials. If you have an older child, you’ll want to buy some fresh lotions, cream, baby soap and so on. This is also a good time to sterilize any bottles or breast pump parts you’ll be using again. You’ll also need to install your baby car seat again or purchase a bigger one for your older child. Getting your house ready will help you and your older child mentally prepare for your new addition and will make the transition a lot easier.