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If you had asked me how many kids I expected to have after my twins were born in 2014, I would’ve told you I would expect to at least have four kids.
Four seemed to be the number my mind would always max out when I used my imagination to envision my future family.
There was some small piece of me that wanted to go beyond that, but I couldn’t yet comprehend how four kids might feel after having the first, second, and third child to actually care for in the real world.
Being a stay at home mother has been the best thing to ever happen to me in my life, but it’s a lot of work. I got to admit, while I write this my kids sound like one giant, happy herd of elephants.
Happy is the key once you get to a certain number of children in your house – you learn that keeping everyone in a positive mood becomes one of the most important things you do.
Maybe happiness isn’t always the aim, but having your children content at the least, is going to be a special key to your mission once you bring your 4th kid into the world.
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What is the Difference Between Having 3 and 4 Kids?
The biggest difference I felt going from having 3 kids to 4 kids is that my vehicle became too squished for my family to ride in. We felt too squished in our little Honda CRV, it seemed like our car and our apartment size needed an upgrade.
Of course, if you already have a mini-van or you might not feel this impact your life as much – it just depends on your family’s specific living environment already.
Just keep in mind that once you have 4 kids in the house, you definitely want to have enough room for everyone to breathe a little.
My family is close-knit, so we tend to stay in each other’s space anyway but even in the good times, the fact that we have too little space for all the kids to play in starts to feel too overcrowded.
Diaper changes will feel more rushed for you once your 4th child has arrived
If you’re like me and have had your children close in age, then you will know what it feels like to have a toddler on the verge of potty training when your new baby arrives. And a new baby with a toddler in diapers all adds up to more diapers for you to change.
If you can manage to have your toddler potty trained by the time your newest baby arrives, you are one of the fortunate. If that doesn’t happen for you though, expect to feel a little frustrated at times during those back-to-back diaper changes.
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There have literally been times where I set my children side-by-side changing each one as needed. I try to laugh at it at the moment, but it can feel overwhelming to have so many diapers to change on a continual basis.
Tummy time for the new fourth baby won’t happen as often as it did for your previous babies
With your first baby, it was likely that you would lay your baby on the floor to experience what’s called ‘tummy time’ by practitioners.
This is the time that your baby spends laying on his stomach stretching out, learning to roll over, and exploring the ground in the first few months of life.
Parents find tummy time to be an extremely helpful tool for keeping the baby happy without having to constantly rock their baby to soothe them.
When there are already 3 small kids in the house, and the 4th is born, you can pretty much count tummy time out unless you use the time to sit with your baby and it’s a group activity for your children to play with the new baby instead of using tummy time as a break for you.
Now on the other hand, if your other children are 8 years or older it might be quite helpful to have them watch over your baby while you get your own chores done around the house.
For tummy time to happen smoothly without your constant assistance, the children who are older than your new baby would probably have to be around 8 years old, and very mature for you to leave your baby on the ground alone in the same room as your older kids.
All of the older kids will want to help out and hold the new baby
The lack of tummy time for your 4th baby, in the very beginning, brings me to my next point – everyone will want to help the new baby. Kids are usually drawn to wanting to help their mom with their new sibling.
By the time my 4th child came around the older kids could practically change the newborn’s diaper with ease.
I let my kids step in and help with things they can clearly help with, but outside of that, I try not to entrust them with anything that is causing me to question if the new baby could get hurt.
Don’t ask your older children to carry your baby to you, or warm up the bottle on the stove. Just know that your older children will ask to help you with every little thing most of the time.
Unless you have confidence in the tasks that your older children are helping with, try not to assign tasks to them that might go awry.
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You can prepare a list of tasks they are allowed to help out with when it comes to the new baby, but keep these tasks clear and concise that way there is no confusion on helping out.
The problem is, that once you give an older child an inch, they will take a mile. So it’s best to have firm boundaries to lessen the risk of your new baby getting hurt.
You won’t get any downtime at all because the mommy tasks are endless
Many parents say that the easiest number of children to have is 3 kids, so you can bet that once you have four children it becomes a lot tougher.
This seems to be how the parenting community in general feels, but there are also some positive aspects to this argument.
Each child has another friend to play with once you have four children
There will come a day when your 4th little one grows up a little bit and is able to play with his other older siblings. This is a great time for everyone involved, no child is left behind ever!
Usually, there are groups of two in the house playing. It turns out to be a nice balance between the kids, and the parents to have groups of 2 children for outings and playtime.
For instance, if one parent is taking a few of the little ones to the store for a grocery store trip, one parent can take two kids and the other parent stays with the other 2 kids – it’s fair for everyone involved.
Is the transition of bringing a new baby in the house with 3 older children difficult?
Yes and no, there are difficulties and easy situations when it comes to bringing home baby #4. You have to consider each aspect of your new family dynamic, and determine what your personal difficulties might be.
Like all humans, parents also have their strong and weak traits in parenthood. If it’s easy for you to have patience, then you will be great with all of the in-between tasks that come along with having another baby.
Loading three kids and a baby into the car, breastfeeding while taming a wild toddler, and trying to calm a crying baby with rowdy toddlers in the home are all situations that require a lot of patience.
If you’re naturally good at including everyone as a whole and teaching things to people of various age groups – you will probably enjoy teaching your kids things and be really good at creating the wholesome family feeling.
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Then let’s say you’re very good at taking naps, hey…who said naps can’t be a skill? Getting all of your children to take naps every day is a tough job, but some parents are naturally good at calming their children into naptime.
These are just a few of the potential difficulties and strong points that parenting demands us to cultivate.
Write a list of your weaknesses and strengths of parenting for you
Write down a list of 5 parenting strengths you have, as well as 5 of your parenting weaknesses to determine what frustrations might come about, this will help you to be more prepared for the future once your 4th baby arrives.
You might not realize all of the potential red flags that come along with having another baby until you see them written down. The more you know, the less surprised you will be down the road during hardship.
Having a 4th child is not a decision to be taken lightly, you and your partner must consider the nitty-gritty reality of what your daily life is about to be like if you proceed to have another child.
Write down plans for childcare and the responsibilities that each person will have when the new baby arrives, just to be sure everyone is on board to perform at a more demanding level.
Is the 4th pregnancy a Lot Different than the First 3?
When it comes to the specific themes or sensational qualities of each individual pregnancy, it seems common among mothers who have given birth to multiple babies that over the years they end up having common patterns across their pregnancies as a whole.
Yet, they will have variations to the minor details like the position of their belly and other less prominent details that set apart each of the pregnancies individually.
For me personally, pregnancies #1-4 were similar in many of the dominant ways, but then pregnancy #5 seemed to be a complete oddball experience compared to my other pregnancies.
It was just so different right from the very beginning, but I was aware of the differences right at the beginning of my pregnancy it seemed.
For example, I didn’t experience morning sickness at all in pregnancies #1-4 and then pregnancy #5 was plagued with nausea, morning sickness, and vomiting until a few weeks after delivery.
It was clearly obvious that my body was handling this baby differently than the first four babies I had.
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Thinking about that now, I imagine that it could have been pregnancy #4 to have turned out to be my oddball pregnancy. It’s possible that other mothers could have a completely different experience with pregnancy #4 than the first 3.
It seems that it’s pretty obvious which features of each pregnancy are going to be new and different for mothers of multiple children, and these differences usually stand out; nausea vs no nausea, or, gaining a ton of weight vs not gaining a lot of weight.
What are the Most Common Ways that Each Pregnancy Can Be Different from the Last?
As I mentioned earlier, there are certain things that will more commonly have variation in subsequent pregnancies each time around. It seems that the more babies a woman has, the more common it is for the details below to vary.
Going through each pregnancy causes anatomical changes, hormonal changes, and emotional changes – they could be similar or different to your other pregnancies.
Pay attention to the pregnancy symptoms below (pregnancy journal) as you go through your 4th pregnancy to see how similar or different they are from your first three pregnancies.
Nausea vs no nausea
Even though nausea for a pregnant woman is usually referred to as morning sickness, the truth is that it can happen at any time of the day or night.
Women will feel sick during pregnancy because of many factors, yet professionals believe that it’s from a hormone produced by the placenta called the human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG.
With each pregnancy, you might feel the same or different in terms of morning sickness, since the types of food you’ll be eating and the amount of HCG being produced by your placenta can change significantly – so can the amount of nausea you’ll experience during any given pregnancy.
But it doesn’t all dwindle down to what we eat or don’t eat during pregnancy that causes morning sickness, so don’t try to overly control the outcome of how sick you are in your fourth pregnancy – just roll with it this time around.
The amount of weight you gain or lose during pregnancy will stay relatively the same with past pregnancies
For me, weight gain was something that remained relatively similar throughout all of my pregnancies. If you’ve gained 40lbs with your first 3 pregnancies, it’s likely that your 4th pregnancy will be pretty much the same.
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There are times when you can develop gestational diabetes and possibly have a huge increase in weight gain, but this is out of the norm.
Don’t start counting the lbs you’re adding on throughout your pregnancy, but, I bet if you looked back at the end of your pregnancy you’d see you gained relatively the same number of lbs in your 4th time around as you did in your other pregnancies.
You might feel pregnant sooner with subsequent pregnancies
Finding out about your pregnancy by peeing on a pregnancy test is one way to make your pregnancy a reality – but it gets even more real the moment you feel your fetus move.
It’s an exciting time to feel your baby move inside of you, so what better deal than to be able to feel your baby sooner each time around?
Most pregnant mammas will agree to this deal, the kicks, punches, and squirms of their baby are the best thing in the world to feel. By the time you’ve already been pregnant 3 times, you can expect to feel your 4th baby a bit earlier than your last pregnancy.
Feeling your baby about 2 weeks earlier than in your previous pregnancies is a solid rule of thumb, most mothers of four can agree on.
The more babies you have the lower you will carry and the earlier you will show
The more pregnancies you have had the lower your babies will sit, this is because your muscles in the womb have already been stretched previously.
If you haven’t had what’s called an apron belly where your stomach sort of hangs over the front of your pants, you might end up having it during this pregnancy.
Stay active, eat well, and massage your belly to promote good health to the abdominal muscles that hold up your fetus and everything that comes along with pregnancy.
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Your first baby stretched your abdominal muscles to the max, so you will also show sooner than with other pregnancies.
With your first few pregnancies you might have stayed ‘unpregnant’ to the world until you were further along than with your 4th pregnancy – you might show as early as 2 months with your 4th pregnancy.
You get good at determining what part of your fetus’s body you’re feeling from the outside
By the time you have had three full-term babies in you, you will get really good at figuring out what part of your baby’s body you’re feeling move around inside of you.
Your fetus’s feet will feel obviously bigger than their little hands when you prod at them from the outside.
If you lay on your back at the end of your 4th pregnancy, you can probably name the position your baby is in from all the practice you’ve had with your other pregnancies.
This is helpful at the end of your pregnancy when your baby needs to be in the head-down position to prep for labor and delivery.
Should I find out the sex of baby #4?
That’s up to you whether you find out what gender your baby is or not. For your 4th pregnancy, you could do something different.
If you’ve already found out what sex your previous children were during pregnancy then it’ll be fun to have at least one surprise baby.
It’s fun to do the opposite of what you’ve done in the past.
My husband and I chose to keep the sex of our 4th baby a secret because we liked the idea of having at least one of our babies be a surprise baby.
We also didn’t give our 4th baby a middle name even though all of our other children have a middle name.
Do All of the Things You Didn’t Do In Your Previous Pregnancies for Your 4th Pregnancy
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It’s no doubt that by the 4th pregnancy you will be quite good at being a mother and birthing your babies! But, even with that success, there are always a few things you end up feeling like you missed out on in your other pregnancies.
This time around figure out all of the important things you felt like you missed out on in your other pregnancies, you know, the things you regretted not doing after you were no longer pregnant – and do them!
Do all of the things you always regretted not doing with your other pregnancies, even if you plan to have more children. By this time you are an experienced child barrier, so act like it.
Plan ahead to make a belly cast or create a pregnancy journal.
If you’re able to do the few meaningful things you missed out on in your previous pregnancies during your 4th pregnancy, you will be less likely to experience postpartum depression or regrets.
I say this because you don’t realize how exhausting it can be when you get to your 5th pregnancy, you might not have the energy to do extra activities during your 5th pregnancy.
Plus, you might decide 4 kids is a good number to stop having more kids at. Many women who thought they would want to have more than 4 kids, end up stopping at 4 kids.
There are always more fun thing’s to do in pregnancy that you haven’t done yet, it seems that the pregnancy-related ideas are endless amongst the pregnancy community.
Belly casts and henna belly paintings are quickly becoming more popular, yet there are still many women who have not done one of these while pregnant.
Your 4th pregnancy is the perfect time to pick out some fun and creative pregnancy-related projects to do.
Choose not to find out the sex of your baby or find out the sex of your baby if you haven’t before
If you have found out the gender of your baby in your previous pregnancies, it can be fun to find out the sex of your baby this time around. I know it’s hard to wait, as it was for me and my husband on our 4th pregnancy but it’s worth it trust me!
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Write down what you and your partner think your baby’s gender is and let the anticipation build as time continues until the birth of your baby.
It’s exciting for the person who is right to say they were right! You get to play the old myths out, like how if you carry higher up then it’s a boy and the lower you carry it’s a girl.
These myths can get especially fun for the older children, they love being involved with the pregnancy more.
On the other hand, if you haven’t ever found out the gender of your baby in your past pregnancies, find out this time around! If you’re worried about the ultrasound affecting your baby in a negative way, then you don’t have to.
It’s just nice to switch things up, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on until you do it.
Don’t include or include a middle name
We gave all 5 of our children middle names except our 4th son, he is simply Okeanos Akins – no middle name.
I feel that not giving our son a middle name tells us a lot about our mindset at the time of my 4th pregnancy with him. It seems like I was in the phase of having all thing’s being unique for my 4th pregnancy.
Going through all 3 of my previous pregnancies, gave me more confidence that you don’t always have to do thing’s the same. It’s nice to have a well-rounded experience.
If you didn’t give your first three kids middle names, then maybe your 4th baby can have a middle name. Practice saying your fourth baby’s name a few times out loud before you officially name your child.
Of course, in the end, you should do what makes the most sense to you and your partner.
Make a belly cast if you haven’t yet
Pregnancy belly cast, plaster belly cast, or a belly mask…whatever you call it they are very neat to do. If you haven’t done a belly cast with any of your first 3 pregnancies you need to do one of these for your 4th baby.
They are memorabilia of your pregnancy, the time when you carried a special baby in your womb for 9 months. A belly mask is a sculpture made from plaster of your pregnant belly, the best time to make a belly cast is around 9-months of pregnancy.
When you’re basically full-term your pregnant belly is so beautiful and big that it’s a perfect time to do the mold of your belly.
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After you’ve made the cast, you can paint it with colors or pictures that remind you of the timeframe you were pregnant in and give it to your child once they grow older.
Paint your belly and do a photoshoot
If you aren’t able to go all out with the belly cast, another great choice is to paint your belly. Grab some watercolor paints, and paint your own belly or have an artistic friend paint on your belly.
Women love to do Henna ink paintings on their belly during pregnancy, Henna paintings last a few weeks instead of washing off right after painting on your belly.
You can also use stencils for an outline if you’re worried about your artistic skills.
Have a water birth
Ahhh, the water birth, something that is highly spoken of in the parenting community. They are supposed to be the natural pain relief of the birthing world. If you haven’t experienced a water birth yet – your 4th pregnancy is a great time to do it with.
You already know you got the strength to endure labor and delivery, so by the time you’re having your 4th baby your confidence might be just right to brave a water birth.
If you feel drawn to having a water birth, check out ecstatic births too. Since you are familiar with the labor and delivery pains, you should be able to apply the technique to have pain medication-free labor and delivery. You got this mamma!
Choose to do a home birth if you haven’t in the past
One step further than a water birth is home birth. The nice thing about home birth is that you have access to all of your coping tools for pain right in the comfort of your own home.
You have the ability to jump in your own tub or bring a birthing pool into the room you wish to deliver your baby.
Trust me when I say you can have a home birth if you’ve already made it through three pregnancies. Of course, there are sometimes medical reasons that might prevent one from having a home birth which is perfectly understandable.
And you can just skip right over this if that’s the case for you! The most important thing is bringing your beautiful healthy baby into this world, and keeping mom healthy while doing so.
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Include the older children to assist you with labor and delivery
Whether you choose to deliver at home or at the hospital for your 4th baby, you can include your older children in your labor and delivery plans. Usually, by the time you’re on pregnancy #4, you have kids that are aware of what’s happening with you.
Even toddlers can watch with understanding all of the changes you will go through during your pregnancy. There are many fun ways to include your older children in your pregnancy.
Try out a calendar count down to the birth of their new baby siblings, have your children write the date they guess their new brother or sister will come into this world.
Make your own sitz bath herbs
I prepared for my last few home births with sitz bath herbs in mind. Now that you’ve undergone a total of three healing phases after giving birth – you have an idea of what parts of your body need extra care.
Try growing your own sitz bath herb garden right at home, including herbs like comfrey, sage, rosemary, and lavender. The more involved you are with your healing process, the easier this transition will be for you in the long run.
When you have 3 other children to care for at home, you should aim for smooth healing and give yourself a bit more downtime than you did with your first 3 pregnancies.
Have pregnancy pictures taken professionally
For some families, taking family photos is a normal thing over the years, if this is you, I give you props! I haven’t been able to keep up on family photos until I realized all the years that passed without them being done.
In my 4th pregnancy, I put my foot down and decided we needed some up-to-date family photos. They are necessary when the kids are growing up so quickly. Look for a local photographer in your area that accepts the budget you have to work with.
No one wants to break their pocket budget while trying to have photos done, and a baby on the way. Or, if you have a GoPro action camera, set it up in a nice spot that you like, and have a family photoshoot with it, you’d be surprised at the quality of pictures a GoPro takes!
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We didn’t realize how much more convenient taking our own family photos was for us until we decided to try the GoPro idea.
It’s just hard to set up a date for family photos with so many children, if anyone is sick or grumpy the day of the photoshoot then it makes it pretty difficult to get good photos.
Don’t cut the cord and choose to have a full or partial lotus birth
You don’t have to cut the umbilical cord after your 4th baby is born if you choose to have a lotus birth. People have long used the practice of leaving the umbilical cord intact until it falls off naturally between 3-14 days.
It ideally reduces the risk of infection because there is not an open wound at the belly button right after being born.
But some people will argue there is a greater risk for infection because of the stagnant blood that is drying up while it’s still attached for a few days after birth.
I have personally had 2 lotus births and they are quite beautiful if you ask me. The part that I enjoyed the most was having more resting time with my baby the first few days after delivering until the cord fell off.
We didn’t get up right away because if we had, I would have had to carry around a bowl of Himalayan pink salt and a placenta.
The point of a lotus birth is to let your baby decide when he is ready to transition away from the components of the womb and to allow mother and baby to have greater bonding time the first few days after giving birth.
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Consider the Age Gaps Between Your Kids if You’re Planning Your 4th child
The age gap between your children will play a role in what your demands are as a mother, and what toys or creative activities you’ll need to provide for your children as they grow.
Having a new baby when you already have young children to care for can be challenging
If it makes sense for you to have all of your children close in age, then begin trying to have your 4th baby about a year and a half after your 3rd child is born.
This gives adequate time for your body to heal from giving birth, and your toddler to possibly be potty trained once you give birth.
One thing that’s challenging, amongst many other things is that you constantly have to change diapers or wipe bottoms in the potty training years.
If you are still breastfeeding currently, giving birth to another baby can cause your breastfeeding journey to be altered if you become pregnant while still breastfeeding.
It might be best for you to fully end your breastfeeding time with your current milk drinker before bringing another baby into your world to share with.
Having older children in the house can take the weight of housework off your shoulders
In the circumstance that you give birth to your baby when you have older children in the house, you might end up having sports practice, friend dates, and a lot of other errands to do for your older kids.
Get ready to feel the constraints of having a newborn again, it can feel restrictive to you after you’ve had years of freedom from a fully dependent child – you will now have to give up a lot of your free time.
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Make sure you buy a clip in car seat base, that way you can manage car rides smoothly. The age gap between older children and a newborn might cause difficulties in bonding between your older child and your new baby.
Although there are many older brothers and sisters that end up bonding perfectly with their baby siblings, this isn’t always the case.
It might feel more like an only child situation for your youngest baby if your older child is almost of age to move out of the house.
Sports, classes, and recreational activities for 4 children costs more
If you’re delving into the world of 4 children and some, be sure that you have the financial means necessary to care for all of your kids.
I know that parents are some of the most resourceful people I have ever met, but it’s nice to evaluate whether you have funds available for two babies in diapers or for each of the older kids to be able to participate in sports.
It’s probable that you will have to significantly alter your finances to bring a new baby into your home, the car might be outgrown, the living space might be outgrown. Consider how much it will cost to take everyone to the movies or out bowling.
We all have favorite things to do as a family, and sometimes when we reach a certain number of children in the house we might not be able to keep doing those things as often.
That said, there are plenty of things to do that don’t cost money; walks to the park, bike rides, and hikes are friendly to everyone in the family regardless of age.
Whether you have been considering having a 4th baby for just a short time or you knew that you’d want 4 kids from the very beginning of starting your family.
There are certain thing’s that each family should consider before bringing another, 4th baby into this world. When you already have children to look after, their age will make a big difference in your responsibilities as a parent.
And depending on the lifestyle you have established prior to getting pregnant will determine a lot about how it will feel for you to add another person to your family.
The things mentioned in this article are important aspects to consider before your 4th baby comes into the picture.
If you can prepare yourself for the intense multitasking, diaper changes, and endless errands you’ll be running with a new baby. You just might manage your position as a caregiver a bit better, and give yourself the upper hand when it comes to parenthood.
Take the time to prepare for what’s ahead if you decide to add another baby to your household.
The most important thing to remember is that every human is special beyond belief, and when a new baby roots in your womb, even if they are your 4th baby they are unique in their own ways.
A baby arrives with purpose and belongs in your family to bring their own special qualities to their parents, brothers, and sisters. Welcome that baby with open arms!
Remember, you got this if you decide you want to or you are already on your way to having baby #4.
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