When Your Partner Is Ready for a Second Baby But You’re Still Adjusting to Motherhood

“You know what? After everything we experienced during your pregnancy and the postpartum period, I can’t wait to try for our second baby,” said my partner in the middle of one night. In my mind, it was like a set of tires screeched to a halt.

Expanding our family has come up quite often, and I still feel internally shocked each time it does. Somehow, we managed to go from mutually deciding it was best to give ourselves more time to adjust to parenthood to discussing the pros and cons of having two kids under 2.

If you’ve found yourself wondering if you can handle more than one child, you’re not alone. For some families, choosing to have one child is something they’ve decided works for them. But this doesn’t mean the decision is always easy to make. Some moms truly struggle with the decision not to have a second child, and that’s OK.

For other moms, their postpartum experience may play a role in their hesitance about having another child. According to Chelsea and Caitlin of MamaPsychologists, it’s “extremely common” for moms to express their frustration about postpartum. In fact, they believe many things can impact this period, such as a “baby’s temperament, the identity in motherhood, family, or relationship dynamics.”

Meet the expert
Mama Psychologists
Chelsea and Caitlin are Registered Psychologists and Moms

From one first-time mom to another, I understand the different emotions that may come up when you’re considering whether or not to expand your family. Here are a few ways you can navigate this delicate topic. 

 

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Adding a Second Baby

The pros and cons of any situation is always subjective, but going through the exercise can help you decide how you’d like to move forward in your thought process. If you are still in the postpartum period and have a child who’s younger than 12 months, it may feel too soon to talk about having another child. Granted, people have children at various stages, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow in their footsteps if you’re not ready. Having two children under the age of 2 may sound terrifying.

Maybe you experienced a high-risk pregnancy or a traumatic birth. Or maybe everything went according to plan during your pregnancy and birth, but postpartum was tough to navigate. Maybe you experienced all or none of the above but are still adjusting to being a first-time mom. Deciding to have one child can be a lot to consider, so it makes sense if you’re apprehensive about having another baby.

Taking a step back to weigh the pros and cons of this can help you decide where you stand.

 

 

Express Your Concerns With Your Partner

Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of having another baby, Chelsea and Caitlin encourage moms to “write it out by collecting thoughts, feelings, and emotions” to help understand how they really feel. This can help “guide the conversation” with a partner so they are aware of how you feel. It can also help you gain an understanding of their viewpoint. If you are unsure of how to start the conversation, Chelsea and Caitlin suggest the following talking points:

  • “I have been thinking about what our family dynamics look like and I am currently at a place where I am hesitant to expand our family. This is why…”
  • “I had a really traumatic/difficult experience during pregnancy/postpartum. I am unsure if I can go through that again.”

 

Respect Your Partner’s Point of View

Once you’ve expressed how you feel, it’s equally important to allow your partner to express themselves. That’s not always easy to do, especially when we’re struggling or are hyper-focused on our own emotions. It doesn’t diminish the way we feel if we listen to and respect our partner’s thoughts or feelings. It helps you look at your relationship as a partnership where one person’s feelings and emotions don’t outweigh the other person’s.

 

Speak With Your Primary Care Doctor and/or Therapist

If you and your partner are unable to understand each other’s point of view to the point where it’s causing arguments, it’s more than OK to reach out to a therapist. Family planning isn’t something you have to figure out in a single day, especially when you’re struggling with how you feel about it. A therapist can help you and your partner make sense of your emotions and thoughts, and they will probably remind you that you don’t have to rush to make a decision about anything.

Reaching out to my primary care doctor helped me during the postpartum period. I considered having surgery to decrease my chances of having more children, but a series of questions about my emotional and mental struggles determined I was suffering from postpartum depression. I’d been feeling like an absolute failure as a first-time mom and the intervention from my doctor helped me receive postpartum depression medication and a referral to a regular therapist.

 

 

Consider That Postpartum Anxiety or Depression Can Occur Again

Each pregnancy and perinatal experience is different, so Chelsea and Caitlin wanted moms to know it’s possible to experience postpartum anxiety or depression with a second baby—whether or not you experienced it with your first. Moms should consider whether or not they will be able to have supportive resources in place in the event postpartum anxiety/depression occurs.

Additionally, if your relationship dynamics with your partner were tested during your postpartum period due to postpartum anxiety or depression, talk about how you’ll navigate it with two children. If you didn’t have a conversation about the realities of the postpartum period when you brought your first child home, it’s something you and your partner need to discuss the second time around. It’s one thing to be excited about having another baby, but so much more can arise once the baby is actually born.

 

Do Not Let Anyone Pressure You to Have Another Child

Chelsea and Caitlin believe it’s crucial that a mom’s partner doesn’t pressure her into having another child. “Our #1 tip is for partners to listen without providing advice or solutions. It can feel dismissive if people go right into problem solving.”

That being said, the decision to have children is such a personal one, but it can feel as if moms are constantly being asked about their plans to have more children. Whether that pressure stems from your partner, yourself, or society, it is your choice if you want to have more children or not. No one can decide if you are prepared to have more children except for you. Being unsure, at any point in your motherhood journey, is OK.

 

Our #1 tip is for partners to listen without providing advice or solutions. It can feel dismissive if people go right into problem solving.

 

Your motherhood journey doesn’t belong to others. Someone else’s perception doesn’t have to guide the way you approach your journey. Yes, some people may have a hard time respecting your process or personal boundaries, but they can’t force you into a decision you’re not ready to make.

Being a mom is a learning process and requires you to be honest with yourself in ways you may be hesitant to do. The more you give yourself permission to truly be honest about your thoughts and feelings, even the tough ones, the more you can feel confident with whatever decision you choose.

If you do reach a point where you decide that you’d like to have another child, that’s great, but if you don’t? Also great. You may feel relieved or you may grieve what you thought you once wanted. Either way, being on the same page as your partner while honoring your overall well-being is crucial. You deserve to be able to take your time when making decisions in your life, especially concerning your motherhood journey.

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