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Time for another baby?

Susie Gower offers some advice on family planning

"My first was two and a half years old when his sister came along. She was three and a half when her new sister came along. She was five when her new sister came along."

While this sounds like some kind of brain teaser it is actually one mum's contribution to the age-old debate surrounding subsequent pregnancies: 'When is the right time to try for baby number two?'

Opinion is distinctly varied. Some parents feel strongly about having a small age gap; others say it was only once their baby had become a toddler (when they managed to catch up on some sleep and therefore started to feel human again) that they could even consider coping with another child. Julie, mum of three, said, "I wanted a two-year age gap or less between my first and second, but the reality was that my eldest was nearly two before I could even contemplate it!"

With a big age gap, however, some of the practicalities can become difficult. Picking up the eldest from an after school activity after the youngest should already be in bed, for example, or finding a film that both a ten- and a two-year old will enjoy. On the other hand, three, four, and even five year olds seem to like nothing more than to help mum or dad change a nappy or make up a bottle of milk. It appears then that there is no 'perfect' time, but some solid words of wisdom are offered by a mum called Hazel, who gave birth to Hannah, a sister for her daughter Chloe when Chloe was three and a half. Hazel says, "Don't let anyone pressure you into it. Make the right decision for the right reasons, not because you have to please other people – after all it's you who will have to deal with two children!"

Let's suppose you feel that now is the right time for you and you've decided, like most do, that the best course of action is just to try anyway and just see what happens. It sounds simple and for some people it is but conceiving, even a second child, doesn't always happen straight away, even more frustrating given that already having had a baby, the chances of not having a second spontaneous pregnancy, age permitting, are normally very low.

When trying for a second or subsequent child, stresses and strains just like these can add pressure. There might also be other issues that weren't there the first time. You have other children to look after, making you more tired and meaning that necessary romantic liaisons can be far more difficult to achieve. Your labour and birth memories from last time, buried away somewhere safe until now, may start to make a reappearance. Worries surrounding emotional issues may begin to surface: 'will I have enough love for another child?' There are bound to be concerns about finances – are you fiscally ready to handle a new baby and everything that comes with it (maternity leave, childcare, what if it's twins?)

These are all natural concerns, some of which you can control and some you can't. However, when considering a subsequent pregnancy, health, something you can control, should be top of the list. Pre-conceptionally everyone should know how physically ready they are, and this is true even if you have had a baby before. See your GP to ensure pre-existing conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure are managed. Just like for your first pregnancy, the active pursuit of good health and proper nutrition before trying to conceive can greatly increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Too often, couples who already have children expect to fall pregnant as soon as they start to try for a sibling. When nature's response is slow this can easily lead to stress and frustration. Worrying about not falling pregnant can make the situation worse. You can't get pregnant until you relax, yet you can't relax until you know you are pregnant.

Reflexology can help you to de-stress and relax, and as well as the physical advantages, it does wonders for stress levels. "Emotional worries just seem to disappear after a session of reflexology", said Belinda, a mum-to-be for the second time who used reflexology to help conceive during her second pregnancy. She went on to say, "I really enjoy the treatments because they give me some time out and the opportunity to enjoy my pregnancy without running around after my two-year old."

Around the world couples are now turning to reflexology in order to help them conceive naturally, to maintain a healthy pregnancy, and to enjoy a shorter labour and an easier birth. This is as true for couples with children already as for those who are starting out for the first time. For a second-time-mum-to-be, reflexology can provide mum with even more precious 'me time'. Reflexology is wonderful at targeting specific areas of the body. Each session is tailor made and so as well as addressing physical issues, the therapy can be used to target particular sentiments or emotions, for example feelings associated with conceiving a child, and the worries and anxieties that pregnancy and enlarging your family may bring.

So when you decide the time is right for you to embark on a subsequent pregnancy, consider reflexology. Regular sessions can help couples fall pregnant, have a stress-free pregnancy and allow mum-to-be to enjoy this special nine months to its fullest.

Susie Gower is a reflexologist and Reiki Master Teacher with years of experience specialising in therapy for preconception, pregnancy, babies and children. If you would like to know more about her approach she can be found at her clinic, Well Being Therapies, in St Albans. For further details or to see how she may be able to help you, contact Susie on 07857 352169 or visit www.well-being-therapies.co.uk. .

This is the third in a series of articles by Susie Gower. Read the others: Starting a family and Advice for new parents.

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