Be it the reluctance to take frequent career breaks during pregnancies, the ticking biological clock or the notion that raising two kids together leads to better bonding, Mumbai couples are warming up to the idea of back-to-back pregnancies. City experts break down the pros and cons
Even before Prince George turns two on July 22, Britain's royal baby will have a two-month old sibling for company as the Duchess of Cambridge is set to deliver another baby, any time now.
Prince William (left) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (extreme left) with Prince George during a visit to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London, last July. Pic/AFP
Great Britain's royal couple — Prince William and Catherine — who announced their second pregnancy less than 14 months since the first one, are set to be part of the 'two under two' club — which includes bringing up two children within the age difference of two years.
Closer home, many city couples are also opting for back-to-back pregnancies. Seema Hingorrany, clinical psychologist and author, observes the trend, "Most working women cannot afford to take a maternity break twice.
Also, with women marrying very late these days — and their biological clock ticking already — they plan a second pregnancy soon after the first one as age is not on their side."
According to psychologists, bringing up two children together is beneficial — not just for the couple but for the kids as well. Neeta V Shetty, psychotherapist and life coach, says, "Psychologically, a couple is in a better frame of mind to accept the second child and bring up both kids together.
If there is a huge gap between two pregnancies, they might find it difficult to adjust to parenthood all over again. Moreover, there is better bonding between two kids with lesser age gap.
Kids who are younger than two years don't feel insecure or jealous of their sibling, since these emotions develop at a later stage. So, accepting a sibling becomes much easier. If the age difference is wider, a child is not willing to share his parents and he/she might feel neglected.
To avoid these issues, it becomes more practical to have a second child within two years of the first one." However, being part of this club has its own challenges.
the guide looks at these areas.
Physical fitness is key
Dr Duru Shah, scientific director of Gynaecworld and Gynaecworld Assisted Fertility Center, says, "When a woman delivers two children within two years, it means that she has conceived within 12 to 15 months after her first delivery.
Usually, a woman breastfeeds her baby for nine months and gradually, weans off her baby from her breast by 12 months after birth. When she is breastfeeding, she is losing calories and feeding her baby at the cost of her own health. This can affect her second pregnancy."
Dr Vandana Walvekar, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Bhatia Hospital, seconds, "A woman may not be physically fit if she has lost or gained weight post her first pregnancy. This may add to her physical strain. Moreover, if she has gone through cesarean during the birth of the first child, second pregnancy might be more difficult."
Tips: "Try not to conceive till the first child is almost two years old, when he/she is on solid food, moving about and understands spoken instructions. Get fit by
the time the first baby is nine months old," says Dr Walvekar. "Stop breastfeeding by one year, so that you are ready for the next pregnancy," adds Dr Shah.
Mental stress check
While raising one kid can take a toll on many parents, handling two children can be stressful for the couples, especially during the initial years. Says Shetty, "The first child is still an infant and needs your attention and care. A mother might feel emotionally exhausted and her tolerance levels might decrease."
Tips: Ensure that you have a support system in place — be it grandparents, friends or domestic help, who can step in. "Taking a four-year break from work is advised for mothers. Also, involve your partner in daily responsibilities.
Studies have shown that fathers feel post-partum depression too, so sharing responsibilities actually helps fathers bond with the kid. He can feed the elder sibling (who would have taken to the bottle by then) or take care of the kids when the mother wishes to spend some me-time," explains Shetty.
Logistics at play
Planning pregnancies back-to-back can be a logistical challenge for Mumbai couples. "Space crunch and financial issues are common problems that couple face," says Hingorrany.
Tips: "Ensure that your financial planning is in place before going in for the second child. Secondly, as the age difference is lesser, you can plan doctor and pediatrician visits for both the kids together," says Shetty. Enrolling both children in the same school can also work out logistically for most couples.
Celebrities who are part of the 'two under two' club
> Britney Spears
> Heidi Klum
> Jessica Simpson
Notes on sibling revelry
> To familiarise the elder sibling with the newborn, plan fun activities that involve both of them. For instance, sand play or beach activity can be very therapeutic for both the kids.
> Don't neglect the first child during the initial months.
> Many times, kids might fight for same toys or inadvertently pick up bad habits from each other. Have the same set of rules for both; don't indulge in any kind of favouritism.
> Involve both the kids in many extra-curricular activities.
Checklist before baby no 2
> Be financially prepared to raise two kids together.
> Have a support system in form of grandparents or friends.
> As a couple, don't lose out on spending time together.
> Take care of your own diet.
> Ensure strict pediatric monitoring for your first child.
The ideal age gap
Most experts believe that 2.5 to three years is the ideal age gap between two kids. “By then, the mother has recovered fully and has the energy to feed/look after another child. Moreover, the child has passed the crucial age of one year and he/she is grown up enough to play with the second child,” shares Dr Walvekar.