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Unexpected pregnancy while caring for an infant: Four tips to get through it

13 Mar 2015 – 11:36 AM EDT

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Four months after I gave birth to my first child, I discovered I was pregnant with my second. I kind of freaked out.

Now, though, I see this unexpected pregnancy as a lucky turn of fate. Being pregnant while taking care of an infant is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But for me, the benefits of two children so close in age will be worth it. (For starters, my boys will most likely be best buddies!)

If you’ve found yourself pregnant within a year of your last baby, here are four tips to keep you and your babies safe and healthy.

Lift the right way

As my pregnancy progresses, I’m finding it harder to lift and hold my wiggly son. The weight is a strain on my abs and lower back. So, it was important to learn to lift the right way. The Mayo Clinic recommends bending at your knees and holding whatever it is you’re lifting close to your body as you rise.

I also need to put him down as much as I can. A fall or a kick to the belly isn’t good for anyone. Although I can’t hold him, we can still cuddle on the couch or play on the floor. That way, he still gets his mommy time.

Tether the toys

Bending over is another challenge. As my due date nears, picking up discarded toys is nigh impossible. So, I’ve devised a trick. I hold onto a piece of furniture, balance on one foot, and pivot to the floor. If practice yoga, think of it as a modified standing split.

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? When my son is in his high chair, I tether his toys with pacifier clips. I loop the pacifier end around a skinny part of the toy and clip the other end to his seat belt. It only works for lighter, less bulky toys, but it’s a lifesaver when gravity is your enemy.

Sleep, sleep, sleep

When my first baby was born, everyone told me the same thing: sleep when he sleeps. But I was using that time to eat or shower. Now that I’m pregnant again, I really do need to nap. It helps me function during the day and keeps me and my unborn baby healthy.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, rising progesterone levels, frequent bathroom trips, and physical changes can all contribute to sleep deprivation. For me, aching legs often wake me up, not to mention the little boy who doesn’t sleep through the night.

Eat, drink, and be healthy

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a mom say something like “I’ve only had time to grab a bag of chips.” It’s so easy to focus on your little one. It’s important to focus on your eating habits, too, however.

But who has time to make a meal? That’s why I’ve learned to love my crock pot. I throw in the ingredients and turn on the heat. By the end of the day, I have something my family can eat all week.

I’ve also embraced the art of snacking. I buy easy-to-grab fruits, vegetables, and other healthy snacks, and munch on them throughout the day.

And make sure you get enough water. A pregnant woman should drink 10 cups of fluids, according to the Mayo Clinic. To make sure I get enough, I bring a water bottle with me everywhere.

Have you experienced an unexpected pregnancy soon after giving birth? What are some of the tips and tricks that got you through it?