Duchess of Cambridge in labour: here's how to cope with three under five

How will Prince George and Princess Charlotte adapt to their new sibling [Photo: Getty]

The nation is officially on baby watch after news broke this morning that the Duchess of Cambridge is in labour.

The Duchess has been admitted to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, in the “early stages of labour”.

A tweet from the Kensington Palace Twitter account stated: “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London earlier this morning in the early stages of labour.

“The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge.”

Already having two children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, when the Duchess does give birth the Cambridges will have three under five, which means life is about to become pretty hectic for the royal couple.

With that in mind parenting experts from, The Baby Show, have put together some advice for the Duke and Duchess on coping with going from two to three children and helping Prince George and Princess Charlotte to adjust to life with their new royal sibling.

No two births are the same

The Duchess of Cambridge may have had two fairly straightforward deliveries, but all labours are not equal. “If you have had fairly straightforward and smooth running labours with your first two, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be plain sailing with baby number three,” explains Milli Hill, Founder of The Positive Birth Movement and Author of The Positive Birth Book.

“Indeed, some people call the third baby the ‘Wild Card’ as it can sometimes bring unexpected surprises! Likewise if you had difficult first and second births you might have a really positive experience with this baby – as your body (and mind) are now really well prepared for labour. Either way, be open to surprises!”

Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny® agrees: “Whilst you may feel experienced in giving birth and, to some extent, know what to expect, remember every birth is different and things don’t always go to plan. If you remain open minded and flexible about how the birth takes place, you will be less likely to feel disappointed if it doesn’t quite go to your ideal ‘plan’.”

How will the Duchess cope with having three under five [Photo: Getty]

Prepare for the birth to be quick!

Baby watch for the Duchess’ third baby may be somewhat shorter than that of her previous children. “Sometimes second or third babies can come quick!” Milli Hill explains. “It’s a good idea to mentally prepare for a quick labour, and prepare on a practical level – for example by prepping your partner on what they may need to do if this happens.”

Make older children feel important

To help Prince George and Princess Charlotte adjust to their new sibling experts recommend encouraging them to play an active role in looking after their baby sister or brother.

“Getting older children involved in caring for the new baby makes them feel included and special,” Chireal Shallow, Consultant Psychologist and author of The Gentle Sleep Solution.

“Easy things could be taking responsibility for bringing the nappy bag or baby’s toys.  Make sure you spend time with each child separately each day – no matter for how long, but ensure you’re engaging in an activity they like.

“Put older children to bed last so that they feel important and give them fun things to do while you put the new baby down.  When feeding your new-born have your older children around you engaged in an activity so they feel close and are not bored or bothering you.”

Eat well

When a new baby arrives it is easy for eating to slip down the to-do list. “It’s important for those who are welcoming a new arrival to continue to eat well both for you and for your baby,” Annabel Karmel, best-selling cookery author and expert in creating nutritious meals for babies and families explains.

“If breastfeeding, your fluid requirements increase dramatically so keep a close eye on your daily intake and remember to stay hydrated. Kate should be drinking lots of water, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juices, and keep a bottle of water handy when she breastfeeds.

“Kate needs to up the all-important intake of calcium, iron and fibre-rich foods.  She should aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and include plenty of fibre while red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and pulses are great sources of iron.  Vegetarians should take pulses and lentils with a source of vitamin c which has been proven to help enhance iron absorption.

Annabel also says that calcium is important for new mums. “A great way to start the morning is with a bowl of granola topped with fruit and yoghurt or some delicious bircher muesli soaked in milk.  Plus, it’s two for the price of one in the nutrition stakes – oats and bran are low GI foods, so they will help fuel your body through a busy morning.”

The Cambridges are about to welcome their third child [Photo: Getty]

Accept help

If people offer a helping hand, take it says Lesley Gilchrist Midwife and founder of My Expert Midwife: “Many friends and family will offer their time and that doesn’t mean that they need to be in your house. Laundry, cooking and shopping are all jobs that can be done by others and planned in advance, so make a list and if anyone offers they can choose from the list.”

“Within your normal household routine there will be a need for additional help to support you all in those early days; you’ll be tired and a new baby can be all consuming.  A close family member or friend can be invaluable, helping you with nappy changes, your other children and making sure you’re all eating properly.”

Take some time out

And pull up the drawbridge. “By the time you have your third child, you’ll be older than you were before and have more children to look after which will be more emotionally and physically exhausting,” explains Lesley. She suggests planning in advance by saying that you’ll be having family time to allow your other children to get to know their new brother or sister.

“Decide on the length of time you’d like for complete privacy; one week is the norm although it’s completely up to you, you can always change your mind once baby has arrived.

“There will always be exceptions to visiting; some friends and family will visit but it’s important to remember that if you’re tired or want peace to feed your baby then go and rest, don’t feel guilty.”

The Cambridges are about to welcome their third child [Photo: Getty]

Breastfeeding? Remember every baby is different

Breastfeeding expert, Clare Byam-Cook author of What to Expect when You’re Breastfeeding….and What if You Can’t? says: “What works with one baby doesn’t necessarily work with another. Milk supply can vary hugely and third time round a mother might have more, less or exactly the same milk as with her previous two babies.”

Clare says the success and failure of breastfeeding is often dependent on combinations – a mother with a good supply of milk and a baby who sucks well will find breastfeeding far easier than a mother who has a low milk supply and baby who sucks badly.  “When breastfeeding, it is OK to give your baby the occasional bottle so you can catch up on sleep and share the load with your partner.

“Remember, breast is only best if it is going well and everyone is thriving, so make sure you seek help early if you feel things aren’t going to plan.”

Create a bedtime routine

Sleep Expert and author of Gentle Sleep Solutions, Andrea Grace says: “From the earliest weeks right up to teens, a lovely consistent bedtime routine for your children will help them to feel both sleepy and safe.”

“Include a nice warm bath, and lots of loving contact with you. It is a wonderful investment of your time and energy to help your children to go to sleep feeling happy and content.”

Make that routine enjoyable

It will be all about the ZZZs for the Cambridges in those early days. “Accept that when your family is growing up, you’re going be tired,” advises Andrea. “So go to bed early, and go easy on the wine and coffee.”

Andrea suggests that the Duchess should learn to take advantage of the times when her little ones are napping/or at school or nursery to put her feet up.

“This way you will be better prepared to rise to the challenge of their demands. Make bed time a happy time of day! Even though you might be ready for a break, try to take the time to show your children just how much you love them. Turn off the TV, step away from the mobile phone, and give them your undivided attention. This will help them to fall asleep feeling secure and happy.”

The Duchess holds her bump on a recent public appearance [Photo: Getty]

Remember every baby is unique

Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s new sibling will be their own little person, and as such will likely require a different style of parenting. “You can parent every baby you have the same way but they are unique and you may not get the same response from each of your children,” explains Lucy Shrimpton.

“Some sleep well, some struggle and need more help. Some feed well, others have challenges. So long as your baby is loved, you’re doing a great job. There are experts who can help with the other challenges!”

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