Research says baby number two can adversely affect your mental health
If you think that things will get a lot easier with another little one running around the house, this research claims otherwise
Have you discussed with hubby, should we have a second child? Perhaps you’re thinking about a younger sibling for your first child, thinking back on the great experiences growing up with siblings. Or maybe it’s because you and hubby know what to expect after number one, so a second child can’t be that much more stressful. Right? Or it could be that you just love big families and want another kid.
But it turns out that this Australian research in the Journal of Marriage and Family claims that having a second child can negatively impact your mental health.
Should we have a second child?
The study was done to see how firstborn children and new siblings affect parents mental health and “time pressure”. The research used data from the Australian Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Survey, following about 20,000 Australians up to 16 years.
“Time pressure” is a type of psychological stress. People will “time pressure” will feel that they have less time to do something. This “time” can be actual time or perceived. People with “time pressure” make rushed decisions and have a one-track, narrow mindset, which adversely affects mental health.
Two questions were raised in this study:
- Do things get better for parents as firstborn children grow up and slowly become more independent?
- Does a younger sibling make a stressed family with “time pressure” even worse?
I’ve done this before, I can do this again
A newborn child introduces parenting to adults. Recall when you had your first child – completely clueless and trying to figure out how best to juggle family and career.
With your second child, you already know how to change the diapers without looking, or knowing how important it is to stock up on wet wipes. Because of this, most parents feel that having a second, or third child will be much easier to handle.
However, the study finds the opposite is true. “Time pressure” worsens with the birth of a child and increases with every new child. You will feel there’s less time to do things and this possibly widens the gap between you and your spouse. Worse still, this affects you more than your husband.
Even after your first child starts going to school, parents’ “time pressure” doesn’t go away if you have a second child. It stays and lingers on, whether both parents are working or if only one of you is the breadwinner. It also doesn’t make a difference if one switches to part-time work or focuses on more freelance work. The research shows stress gets worse with more children no matter the circumstances.
Mums, your mental health actually improves after baby number one
The study also finds that mums’ mental health improves after the birth of your first baby. The research finds that mothers with one child not only have less “time pressure”, but their mental health actually improves as their only child grows up and becomes independent.
On the other hand, making way for baby number two (or three) can adversely affect mums’ mental health, and the decline steadily continues. This is because a second child and beyond only adds up to the feeling of “time pressure”.
In fathers, the study finds that men’s mental health is boosted after the first child, but also declines once the second child comes along. However, the father’s mental health will see no significant changes over time, indicating that mums feel the brunt of “time pressure” worse over the long-term. It’s chronic stress that could deteriorate your health as time passes.
So, should we have a second child?
But you have to know it’s not going to be smooth sailing all the way.
There’s other research to show that baby number two (and beyond) is going to be a tough challenge for you and your husband. Before you start up the baby factory again, make sure the both of you are prepared as much as possible. Check out these 15 things you can expect with your second child so you know what to expect when baby number two comes along.
Another important takeaway is to make time for yourself and for your marriage.
When you do find time to spend on yourself, cherish it. Reward yourself and make it your truly personal time to unwind and relax.
And when things get rough with hubby, remember that marriage is never easy. Plus you’re not alone – the veterans have worked out through the toughest situations and stayed married. Here’s their advice for every couple.
Read also: Jealousy in kids: When should you worry?