Oh the excitement to have another sibling on the way! But there is some work involved in deciding how much information and when, to provide to your little one, about being pregnant and the impending birth. Let alone what happens after THE arrival (but that’s another post).
Here are some things to consider in preparing your child for what is involved in growing a child and bringing it into the world…
Timing when to announce to your little one that you are pregnant
This all depends on age, your child’s interest in babies and how long you want to be fielding questions and talking about the upcoming arrival! If you’ve found out the sex of your baby, this can be a great way to make it more ‘real’ for your child, especially if they have a name for the baby too. On the other hand, it can be a great exercise to teach about ‘waiting’, ‘surprise’ and how conception gives us no option to choose the gender if you choose not to find out. And be prepared, if you give the baby a nickname before the birth, your child may struggle to swap to the new name for a little while!
How much information do I provide? What should I tell them?
Considering pregnancy and birth is such a miracle of life for us humans and knowing that children love to share a sense of wonder at this age, there is a strong argument for providing as much honest and age-appropriate information as needed for your child. Depending on their age, you may just wait for questions and provide just enough information or you may have the child that needs to know every last detail. Having ‘all the facts’ can help your child to feel safer about what is going on during the pregnancy and what will happen once the baby arrives. It may also stem the need for excess questions however, when a child is still asking, they are trying to process a scenario in their head so be patient and keep providing information, even if you are repeating it every day. Keep in mind, some children really don’t know what questions to ask although they may be interested in you providing some information.
Have a good think of your explanation of how the baby was made and how it will arrive BEFORE you tell your child you are pregnant! Otherwise, remember you can always say ‘I’ll have to have a think about that one’ for any curly questions you are unprepared for (and then go and get your answer ASAP before the question is fired again!).
It all depends on a child’s maturity and need for information as to how much detail you actually provide. It might seem embarrassing to us, but does a child really find it that way if we explain in matter-of-fact terms that a baby is born through a vagina? Again, have a think about how much information you want to give to your child (and how much you want them to be repeating to others!). There is always a way to SIMPLIFY explanations, rather than lie!
For those unsure of the explanation they will give their child, why not visit the library or look at their online catalogue to find books on explaining pregnancy and birth to your child. It may be useful to read them beforehand and choose the one that fits your family the best. Of course if you have a particular set of circumstances (such as a homebirth or child attending the birth), you could always search online for titles. There is a book for every scenario!
The more your child is involved in preparing for the baby, the more they will learn and feel a part of the process. This might be:
- using a cheap calendar to mark out dates and milestones, such as scans, baby able to hear, when baby first kicked and the due date
- a trip to the hospital or clinic with you so they can visualise where you will be going to have the baby or the people involved in the birth
- going to the shops and choosing the new washers, bath toys or books you will need for the baby
- talking to your child about the reason for each item required by a baby as you sort them out at home
- drawing scenarios for your child (stick figures are enough!): what happens at an obstetrician/midwife visit, the steps that will happen on the day the baby is born via Caesar, the different people they might spend some time with when Mummy goes into labour. Read more about the benefits of visual explanations to help your child understand in the post ‘When in doubt, say it with a pen‘.
- make a little book with these pictures so your child can re-read as much as they need. You might use your stick figures or find Google images or even use some photos with Vista Print.
- think about a present for the baby, from your child. It could be a teddy or even a book they can later read to the little one.
Above all, remember that this time is not only an amazing journey for the family but also a period of many changes in routine. Communication will be your biggest friend in helping your child to adjust!
Did anyone else have a favourite book for their child or another great way of helping them to learn about pregnancy or birth?
Part two – You’re going to be a big sister! Now here’s what’s going to change will give you more ideas of what changes to expect and how to help child 1, after the baby’s arrival 🙂
I Raise My Kids is also at Facebook and now at Google+ 🙂 Heidi