One pregnancy is challenging enoughÂwhat if another follows hot on its heels?
Don’t be afraid to gain weight. It’s common to take extra weight into the second pregnancy—I took an extra 20 pounds. You’ll still want to gain weight during the second pregnancy, although perhaps a bit less than the usual recommendation of 20 to 30 pounds. “If you’re 20 percent or more over your ideal body mass, you already have the necessary fat stores,” says John Botti, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of maternal-fetal medicine at Pennsylvania State University’s Hershey Medical Center in Hershey. “Discuss it with your physician, but you can probably gain somewhat less than the usual number of pounds.”
Watch your diet. A short interval between pregnancies means your body may be at a nutritional disadvantage—so you’ll need to be vigilant about eating properly. “Certain nutrients such as calcium and iron must be replenished after delivery, and that takes about six months,” Botti explains. “In a short-order pregnancy, those mineral levels may be less than ideal.” He suggests eating a diet rich in calcium and iron (the RDA for pregnant women is 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 30 to 60 milligrams of elemental iron) and paying careful attention to taking prenatal vitamins. Consult with your caregiver about other nutritional supplements you might need.
Expect to feel extra exhausted. “I had one baby on the outside and one on the inside, and I felt like I couldn’t move,” remembers Moss. Because the second pregnancy progresses in a different environment—there’s now a demanding newcomer to consider—you have to carve out adequate rest time. At the least, sleep whenever your older baby does. If possible, arrange child care or household aid (at-home assistance helped allay my predelivery fears about handling two babies). Also, don’t be shy about asking your mate, family and friends for their assistance.
Don’t stop exercising. Moderate exercise helped alleviate fatigue during Calvan’s second pregnancy. “I’d be exhausted due to sleep deprivation and working full-time, but I always felt better after going to my prenatal exercise class,” she says. All I could handle after my second pregnancy was taking walks with my two babies in their stroller—but at least it was something. It’s important to focus on your health, though, not your figure. “If you didn’t lose weight between pregnancies,” says Botti, “don’t try to work it off now.”
Careful how you carry while you’re carrying. Carrying a nonwalking baby while I was pregnant caused painful muscle spasms in my neck. Other mothers suffer lower-back problems. “My back was very fragile because of holding my first child,” Calvan recalls. Exercises that reestablish abdominal-wall tone should help relieve back stress. Other strategies: Enlist child-care help, eliminate unnecessary lifting and always lift with proper form, making sure to bend at the knees.