2018 Update: Baby #3 is here! I did this amazing birth program this time around and couldn’t have been more pleased. Even though my 3rd labor was a whirlwind (2 hours from start to finish), I managed to stay calm with these techniques.
By the time you get pregnant for the 2nd time, you assume you’re an expert. The fear of the unknown from your first pregnancy have been replaced with new fears of whether you can handle two kids and how your older child will handle a new sibling. Those fears ended up being completely off-base because I love both of my boys and my toddler absolutely adores his baby brother.
What did surprise me though is how different my second labor and delivery was compared to my first! Here are just 9 of them:
You’ll Have More False Labors
I had no idea I was even in labor with our first son until my water broke. After that, it took a total of 6 hours before he was here and in our arms.
If your story is anything like mine, you’ll probably be extremely hypervigilant and will second-guess every ache and pain convincing yourself you’re in labor during your second pregnancy. I even went to the ER and spent 5 hours in a hospital in Louisiana when I thought I was going into labor at 33 weeks.
When Labor Actually Starts You’ll Know It
Then, when the real thing is happening, you’ll know it from the very beginning. When I went into labor with our second son, I knew from the moment I woke up that something was happening. I still questioned myself, but deep down I knew today was the day.
That’s kind of a good thing and a bad thing. We had plenty of time to get our bags to the car and to get ready to go, but it also gave me way too much time to get nervous about labor and delivery.
It Will Probably Be Faster
I was in the hospital for a total of about 3 hours with our first son before he was born.
This time, from the time we got to the birth center to the time I delivered was exactly 1 hour and 58 minutes.
I hope your labor and delivery will be just as fast!
Nothing is the Same
With our first son, my water breaking was how I knew I was in labor. This time, my water didn’t break until about 10 minutes before our second son was born. It actually broke while I was in the pushing stage.
One labor doesn’t tell you much about the next. I had myself convinced my labors would be mirror images of each other. Not the case!
What Worked the First Time Might Not Work at All
With my first labor, the best coping mechanism I had was being distracted. I had no idea I was in labor and then once I realized I was, I had my coworkers by my side to talk to me and keep me distracted.
Consequently, I handled the pain like a champ. Even when I was in the pushing stage, I think I only doubted myself because it’s how I had seen other women in movies handle their labor. Looking back, I know I could have handled that labor and delivery without any self-doubt because the pain was completely manageable.
I was on my back for most of the pushing stage and my midwife rubbing my back gently was all I needed to cope with my labor pains.
This time, my husband had to vigorously rub my lower back to help me handle my back labor. It was almost as much of a workout for him as it was for me!
You’ll Know What to Expect
This is a blessing and a curse. The first time around, I had no idea what my body and baby had in store for me, and when it was all over I realized it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.
This time, I knew that the contractions would start to become irregular and come back to back to back and that at some point there would be no break. It was still overwhelming, but I knew there was an end in sight.
Luckily, that happened pretty soon after we got to our birth center and I had a very quick labor. I honestly thought I was going to be pushing for an hour and a half like I did with our first son, so I really questioned my ability to handle the pain.
Even though I knew what to expect and nothing in labor was new to me, I was surprised that I wasn’t more confident in my ability to handle natural childbirth. I did manage to deliver both of our boys naturally, but I think I’ve finally realized that it will get pretty tough to handle the pain and pressure every time.
The good news – your body knows what to do:
According to the nurse that helped me deliver our second baby, your body knows what to do the second time around, so it’s faster and usually a little easier.
That fact was reassuring to me when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I kept telling myself “your body knows what to do to get this baby out.”
The Bad News…
The pain might not stop for a few days! No one told me this ugly truth about second babies. The first time around, they tell you to nurse frequently and go to the bathroom often because it helps your uterus contract back into shape.
What they didn’t tell me was how painful this would be the second time. I don’t remember any pain after having our first son. After having our second, I was in a lot of pain through the night at the birth center and I was told this is normal for second babies because your uterus is more stretched out so it takes more to contract it back to where it needs to be.
The second night, we were at home and I was laying on my belly on a heating pad making my husband take care of both kids through the night because I was moaning in pain. I hope your experience is different if you’re expecting your 2nd (or 3rd!) baby, but holy crap it hurt!
It actually took more than 3 days for the pain to completely subside. The contractions felt exactly like they did during labor only my body wasn’t pushing.
If you can deliver a baby, you can do anything. Just remember that this time, the pain might not go away completely just because the baby is finally here!
You Might React Differently – and So Will Your Spouse
With our first son, my husband cried the moment he saw him. He worried about me immediately after delivery and questioned the nurse and midwife when I was really shaky immediately after delivery.
The second time, we both knew what to expect. We were elated to meet our son, but neither of us cried. We just smiled and said to each other “another boy!” as I contemplated the hell my life would be if this son turned out just like his dad and older brother (I’m joking, of course). I love the men in my life, but if you met my husband and his dare devil twin of a son, you’d know that what I’m in for is no easy road!
All joking aside, we enjoyed every second of meeting our new baby and dreaming about who he’d become. My husband took the reins this time and did skin to skin while I got cleaned up and took a few moments to process the fact that I just had our baby!
Instead of becoming an instant family, your new baby is fitting into the family you’ve already created. It’s wonderful, but in a different way. Really, it’s even better because you already know how amazing it is to be a parent, so you force yourself to take in the experience even more. Plus, you know just how quick it goes. This tiny person will be running around before you know it.
Have you already delivered your second (or third) baby? What were the key differences between the two experiences for you? What advice do you have to prepare moms and dads for their second little one? Let me know in the comments!