While pregnancy is a joyous time for you, it can be a time of mixed feelings for your child. As your body changes, your child may worry about your well-being. She may be uncertain about how to adjust to being a sibling and how her life will change when the baby arrives. Explanation and reassurance can go a long way to calming your older child's fears and helping her understand the momentous occasion for your family.
Keep it simple
Consider your child's age and developmental level. Give your child simple facts she can understand and avoid providing too much incidental or unnecessary information.
Choose a quiet time to talk to your child with no distractions. Avoid having this discussion at playtime or when your child will be disinterested. After bath, before bed and during mealtime are options for talking to your child about your pregnancy.
What to say
Tell a younger child, "A baby is growing in Mommy's belly" or "When a mommy and daddy love each other very much, sometimes a new baby grows in Mommy's belly." Older children may benefit from a brief lesson in reproduction. Explain the process of a sperm and egg uniting to make a baby through an age-appropriate discussion.
Prepare yourself for any and all questions. Your child may be indifferent or could have many questions. Some questions you may encounter are, "How will the baby come out?" or "Will it hurt?" Be honest yet age-appropriate in your answers to questions. Lying only will create confusion for your child.
Keep the discussion of labor and delivery on her developmental level. Explain the pain factor and assure her you will be fine. After all, you delivered her and lived to tell the tale.
Show and tell
Show your child appropriate pictures and books depicting pregnancy. A chart showing how your body changes over nine months could be helpful for her to understand physical changes. You could also purchase a big brother or sister book to acclimate your child to his new, impending role.
Talk to your child about how you are feeling throughout your pregnancy. Explain to your child how hormones cause morning sickness or make you tired. Talk to your child about why you cannot pick her up in the later months of pregnancy to prepare her for the change. Older children may be able to help with younger siblings if necessary.
In the loop
Involve your child in the pregnancy as much as possible. You may want to take her to see an ultrasound or show her sonogram photos. Let her touch your belly, talk to the baby, and let her help pick out clothes or paint colors for the nursery.