Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting the Second Time

Attachment Parenting International‘s first principle of parenting is to โ€œprepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.โ€ API says:

Pregnancy offers expectant parents an opportunity to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for parenthood. Making informed decisions about childbirth, newborn care, and parenting practices is a critical investment in the attachment relationship between parent and child. Education is a key component of preparation for the difficult decisions required of parents and is an ongoing process as each stage of growth and development brings new joys and challenges.

I am currently 33 weeks pregnant with my second child. While there was nothing particularly traumatic about the birth of my son Dylan, almost three years ago, there are a number of things I’d like to do differently this time. With Dylan, I used an OB as my health provider, needed pitocin to speed up my labor, received an epidural, and also needed a vacuum to finally get him out. He wasn’t immediately placed on my chest after birth and we experienced a lot of difficulties breastfeeding during the first few weeks.

Co-sleeping with Dylan happened as a result of sheer desperation . . . it will be done with intention this time!

Since Dylan’s birth, I’ve learned a lot and want my experience to be different this time. I started off by choosing a midwife as my health provider. I’ve done a lot of reading about natural childbirth. I recently hired a birth doula. I hope to avoid medical interventions during birth. I am now a La Leche League Leader and I am educated about breastfeeding and difficulties that can arise.

Before Dylan’s birth, I did a lot of preparation, but it was mostly related to material things like choosing a stroller, picking out a bedskirt for his crib, or finding the perfect curtains for his room. Of course, none of my preparation prepared me at all for what life with a newborn would be like! This time around I’m not doing any “material” preparation other than having some diapers ready and washing a few newborn outfits. We’re not even taking the crib out of storage this time and the baby won’t have his or her own room – we are planning on co-sleeping right from the start!

Despite the rocky start we had with Dylan during the early weeks, things started to come together a couple months in when I started researching solutions to some breastfeeding and sleep issues we were experiencing. Luckily, I discovered Kellymom’s website and Dr. Sears’ books, both of which introduced me to the wonderful world of attachment parenting. And I never looked back!

I hope that the preparation I have done during this pregnancy, together with the choices I hope to make during birth, come together to create a fulfilling birth experience and a smooth first few weeks. Whatever happens, I will know that I prepared myself as best as I could. Despite my planning, I expect the unexpected and hope for the best!


Sheryl is the proud mother of an almost 3 year old son, Dylan, and she and her husband Jake are looking forward to the birth of their second child in December. She is passionate about helping nursing moms through her work as a La Leche League Leader. She also happens to work full time as a lawyer, and whenever she has a chance she writes for her blog, Little Snowflakes. In her spare time (which doesn’t come along very often), she enjoys long walks, crocheting and yoga.

Sheryl’s post is one of three that NPN is featuring as a special part of the November Carnival of Natural Parenting. To read more about what natural parenting means to our community as well as how you can write for the next Carnival, visit the November Carnival post.

12 Responses to Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting the Second Time

  1. Dionna  

    I’m so excited to see your sweet little newborn!! It must be so nice to be a second-time-pregnant mama – you know a little more about what to expect, you probably have a better support network in place (I didn’t find my AP mamas until I was about 6 months pg with Kieran), etc. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for ๐Ÿ™‚
    We didn’t do a LOT of the material stuff, but we did get quite a few unnecessary items (the biggest was a crib that my mother bought us and was NEVER used – ha!). All I’m hoping for is that if we ever do get pg again, it will be with another boy, so I can reuse all of Kieran’s sweet baby clothes.
    Thank you for sharing your post with us!!

  2. Write About Birth  

    What a beautiful picture of Dylan! For me, too, a lot of the preparations for my first baby centered around purchasing things – most of which we never even used. For my second I had, like you say, diapers and some newborn outfits. Being the mother of a newborn was so much more relaxed the second time around, and much of it focused on keeping my first-born happy too. I hope you have the same experience, and a great birth!


  3. Amy R.  

    We, fortunately, avoided buying a lot of material things with my son, mainly out of lack of funds to pay for big ticket items like a crib and stroller. We had to pay mostly out-of-pocket for our homebirth, so that was the priority.

    I can’t wait to hear how your birth goes and see your precious new family member! Best wishes to each of you on this amazing journey.

  4. Theresa  

    I can relate to this! I thought I had prepared for my first birth (midwife, doula, etc), but I only prepared for things to go well. Last time I just assumed everything would go fine, and my support people would help me if it didn’t. Well, it didn’t, and they didn’t. When I had a pre-labour rupture of membranes and no labour in 28 hours, I had to be induced, leading to a cascade of interventions and ending up in a C-section. Ever since that day I’ve been preparing myself my differently for the next pregnancy and birth, especially now that it will be a VBAC (hopefully!). I’m exercising, I’m reading everything about every possible situation. I will carefully choose my support team, and will be much more proactive than last time. It’s too hard to make decisions in the (intense) moment when you’re uninformed! The other preparations (decorating, buying clothes, etc) are not even on my radar!

  5. Rachael  

    Your sentence about preparing material things jumped out at me, because I hadn’t seen that โ€” in a strange way โ€” I’m doing just that to prepare for a second pregnancy and birth. But my material preparations have nothing to do with GETTING stuff but instead with GETTING RID of stuff and GETTING ORGANIZED. I want to be able to welcome our hoped-for second one into a home that truly feels like home โ€” especially as we’re planning to give birth at home next time. Best wishes to you in the coming weeks, Sheryl!

    • Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes  

      I’ve been doing similar preparations for my second baby also – a lot of organizing closets and drawers around the house, getting rid of clutter, etc. I consider that to be “useful material preparation”, rather than “non-useful material preparation” like obsessing over what bed skirt to buy for a crib, as I did during my first pregnancy!

  6. Ruth86

    This is wonderful!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was an attachment parenting mum (out of necessity, and desire… mainly necessity at the start though!). My daughter could not breastfeed so at 6 weeks I began exclusively pumping. She LIVED in a sling, slept next to mum, and was a very high needs little girl. It was tough – yet when I look at her now I know it was all worth it! She is 20 months and just gorgeous. She has the behaviour and understanding of a child beyond her age, so I know it was the right path for us. And much more comforting for myself parenting her like that. I was very lucky in having a completely natural, drug free first birth (spontaneous vaginal birth with a two day long labour and a posterior baby…) It was beautiful! Painful, yes. But empowering, exciting, an accomplishment I am so proud of and thrilled I got to experience. I wish every mum could. As I took no pain relief she was placed on my abdomen after the birth to crawl to my breast. It was amazing! My son was an emergency caesar at 25 weeks (far too early!) so we spent 4 months in NICU. Not what I had expected given the first birth! But – things have been just lovely since he came home. The attachment style parenting has given my daughter such confidence, love and personality that it is so easy with the two of them. They are just 11 months apart yet I find them a joy to mother (…most days hahahaha!!) For those of you considering a natural birth and/or attachment parenting – I will say that yes, it can be a tough ride at times (both the birth and the mothering style). Yet I have found both to be absolutely rewarding, and I would not change a thing. My children are happy, healthy and just beautiful. A little more endurance and effort certainly pays off many times over with such wonderful children. Best of luck with the upcoming newborn! xx

  7. Lauren  

    It’s funny how the first baby shows us what is important โ€” and what really isn’t. I love your essay, and your honesty that even though all might not go as planned, you’re much better prepared this time and can try for something better.

    I’m hoping the same thing this time around. I think just having a little less fear of the unknown and a little more confidence in my parenting is going to help so much.