• Surprise Second Pregnancy: How to Make Sure It's a Healthy One

    Pregnant too soon? Along with expert advice, real moms weigh in.
    by Rachel Perez .
Surprise Second Pregnancy: How to Make Sure It's a Healthy One
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You find out you're pregnant again. Your face falls, but you quickly recover especially if you are not alone. A baby is a blessing, but when it's too soon or unplanned, it's understandable that you're worried. After all, you already have a tiny human being who is totally dependent on you. 

    One mom in our Facebook group Smart Parenting Village expressed her worry about her second pregnancy since it's been only eight months when her first baby was born. How are you going to take care of your baby while nurturing the one in your womb? Will it be safe to give birth again with so little gap in between? How can you even take care of two little kids?

    The ideal pregnancy spacing is at least 24 months, or two years, before trying to conceive again, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Pregnancies spaced less than 18 months apart have been associated with increased risk of low birth weight and pre-term delivery, to name a few. Getting pregnant again within six months or less after giving birth increases the risk of maternal death.

    BUT, moms, those are the risks. You should know about them because you need to be informed, but it does NOT mean you cannot have a complication-free pregnancy.

    "If you get pregnant less than 12 months after giving birth, it doesn’t necessarily mean there would be problems. It just means that there are things you and your doctor need to be aware of so you can enjoy a safe and healthy pregnancy," obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Mary Faith Angat, M.D., told SmartParenting.com.ph.

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    What are the things you can do to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy?

    1. Don't miss your prenatal checkups.

    Given the possible risks to your pregnancy, go and see your doctor for a prenatal checkup ASAP and bring up the issues worrying you. A few of the most common questions of moms who are expecting again are... 

    Can you continue to breastfeed your baby while pregnant?

    It should not be a problem. Many moms have successfully done tandem breastfeeding. Obstetrician-gynecologist and international board-certified lactation consultant, Dr. Patricia Kho M.D., warns, however, that if you're having contractions when you're nursing, then that's the time to stop. Alert your doctor, too, if you're experiencing lower back ache, pelvic pressure, abdominal cramps, or increased vaginal discharge.

    Can you carry your baby when you're pregnant?

    Barring any pregnancy complications, it shouldn't be an issue. If your baby bump has grown big and heavy, making it difficult or even tiring to carry your baby, Dr. Kho advises to stop. Carrying your baby can tip your balance and may also adversely affect your spine. Stop carrying heavy loads, too, if you start showing signs of pre-term labor.

    If you've had a previous C-section not two years before, is this second pregnancy safe?

    Dr. Angat says the uterus needs at least six months to fully heal. There remains a slightly higher risk for tearing, but your doctor should be able to monitor and prevent it from happening. To be safe, pregnancy cases like this are not advised to try for vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) and should give birth in a hospital fully equipped to handle an emergency C-section, should it be required.   

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    Will my postpartum depression affect my unborn baby?

    Getting pregnant soon after giving birth may aggravate postpartum depression. It's one of the main reasons why self-care is of utmost importance during this period. Process the situation and seek proper help. Your husband and friends are great sounding boards, but if you have anxiety or depression, you may need professional help for proper diagnosis. Check if what you're feeling is here.

    2. Take charge of your finances now. 

    We all wish we can ignore this, but doing so will just give you problems later on. You already know your first pregnancy was expensive. Rework your family budget and start setting aside funds for future expenses, like another C-section, for example. Invest in clothes and baby gear that your second baby can also use. 

    3. Ask for help that targets a specific problem. 

    Having an uncomplicated pregnancy is your goal and a priority that entails having a proper diet and light exercise routine. You don't want to pack on extra pounds that you probably have not even lost yet from the previous pregnancy. It also involves taking your prenatal supplements and getting enough rest and sleep. 

    The latter may seem impossible, so it's time for the daddy-to-be to step up or maybe ask a relative or hire a nanny to help you care for your baby. It's not easy getting quality help nowadays, but the sooner you can do this, the sooner you and your child can get comfortable, and everything's ironed out for when the next baby comes. 

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    4. Spend time with your older child.

    Cherish the time with your older child because soo enough, it will be divided into caring for him and his new sibling. It will be tricky to prepare a baby for the arrival of his younger sibling. Read here for real-mom advice how to do it. 

    5. Break out your best positive attitude.

    Oh, you will need it. In the Philippines, people often phrase comments like "Buntis ka na naman?" as a joke. (Get clever responses to these comments here.) Ignore as much as you can and think: your kids can be best friends because they're closer in age. You may not need to buy new baby stuff, and you're already getting the hang of bathing, nursing, and diapering now. The first few years will be challenging, but we all know it is worth it.

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