Having a baby is a laborious task. It comes with the cutest perks, but the months of gestation also have their fair share of pleasure and pain. If you have, however, delivered your first child, then things may seem like familiar ground the second time around. You may feel like you know what to expect, but that is hardly the case. A majority of mothers felt like time went by much faster during the second pregnancy. But every pregnancy is unique in its own way because the human body is unique.
How Is Labour During the Second Pregnancy Different From the First?
The first and second pregnancy can differ on many counts, and you should not expect exactly the same experience as during your first pregnancy.
1. Baby Movements Can Be Felt
It is sheer bliss when a first-time mother feels her baby’s kick or movement in the second trimester of her pregnancy. It is unusual for a woman to feel baby’s movements before the fifth month during the first pregnancy. But with the second pregnancy, you can discern the movements as early as the 13th week or sometime during the 4th month because you are familiar with what the sensation is like.
2. Baby’s Position Is Lower
The abdomen gets stretched a fair amount when one goes through pregnancy for the first time. It never fully reverts to its taut self as before and so during the second pregnancy, your baby will most likely be lower down in the abdomen that before.
3. False Contractions Are Familiar Ground
Braxton Hicks or practice contractions are common during pregnancy and mostly start by the sixth week of pregnancy. It is a tightening of muscles for about 30-60 seconds and is not obvious until the closure of the third trimester. This is likely attributed to the fact that a first-time mother is already overwhelmed by the number of changes that the body is going through. During the second pregnancy, however, familiarity allows a mother to recognise Braxton-Hicks, and it can be far worse than during the first pregnancy.
4. Labour May Happen Sooner
On average, first-time mothers have been known to go into labour in the 41st week. However, second pregnancy early labour is very common, and mothers go into labour as early as the 40th week. This is because the body is more used to pregnancy and reacts faster to the hormones released around this time.
5. Cervix Is More Dilated
The cervix is better adjusted to labour and is more readily dilated during the second pregnancy. This is one of the reasons that most women do not go through over 8 hours of intensive labour during their second pregnancy. Most women during their first pregnancy are put through eight or more hours of labour. It comes down to about 5 hours for the second one because your cervix is provided a head start now.
6. Labour Is Not Easier Though
None of this makes labour any easier because the body, being used to the exercise, makes the contractions much stronger. Take comfort in knowing that the experience of your first delivery will help you push at the right time, making the process smoother.
7. Crowning Is More Bearable
Crowning is that glorious part where your baby has passed through the entire birth canal and emerges head-first. It is made a tad bit easier in certain body positions. Obviously, the ‘head-down’ position is optimum with baby’s body facing the mother’s back. As the first pregnancy has stretched the uterine walls and the muscular tone isn’t that tight, the stress of crowning is reduced by and large.
8. There Is Heightened Awareness of Labour Commencing
The experience of a previous delivery will help the mother understand when to get to the hospital. Knowing the difference between Braxton-Hicks and real labour too is an advantage here. You will be better prepared for delivery and will certainly not rush to the hospital too late or even too early.
9. Muscles Are Looser Leading to Less Pushing
As mentioned before, the first delivery stretches your muscles to a large extent. This makes the uterine muscles, the cervix, and the abdominal muscles are all much more relaxed, and the baby has more room to make its way out. This means that the pushing becomes much lesser during the second delivery.
10. Postpartum Pains Could Be Worse
The afterpains or postpartum contractions that bring back the uterus to shape could end up being more painful as the muscle tone is lesser and uterine walls have lost a lot of their strength and elasticity.
What Are the Signs of Labour During the Second Pregnancy?
The body’s and the mind’s memory of the previous delivery is very helpful during the second pregnancy. Some signs of labour that you might be familiar with are:
- The belly will drop, and your breathing will become easier. The heartburn and acidity will ease up too.
- The mucus plug is lost just before cervical dilation and is one of the surest signs that you are about to go into labour.
- The discharge from the vagina becomes more liquid in nature and also more plentiful.
- Weight loss before term is an early sign of labour because the fluids in the body coagulate to prevent excessive blood loss during delivery.
- The baby becomes less active a few days before labour commences because they are getting into position and preparing for the delivery too.
- Contractions become rhythmical and are regular, unlike the Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Pain increases with each contraction, unlike the practice contractions.
- The water breaking is a sign in second pregnancy labour to go to hospital.
How Can You Prevent Episiotomy While Giving Birth for the Second Time?
If you have had an episiotomy during your first delivery, you can try the following to avoid it during the second pregnancy:
- Have perineal muscle massage in the final month leading up to the delivery.
- Try sitting upright while pushing so that gravity assists during the delivery so that you can avoid the perineal tear.
Additional Tips to Consider
It is said, “Being well-prepared means half the battle won”. Although nothing can ensure that things go as per plan, you should be prepared, nevertheless. Here are a few things that you can do:
- Be in regular contact with your doctor.
- Have your bags prepared at the first signs of labour.
- Make sure that you and your partner have spoken about the administering of drugs like epidurals, etc.
- Be sure to relax and anticipate changes to your plan.
- If things go differently than what you expected, embrace it and look forward to delivering a healthy baby in a safe manner.
While there are multiple differences between the first and second pregnancy, there are many similarities too. Many ladies have repeated nausea, swelling, pains and aches, and fatigue. Some are also worried that if they have had a caesarean during the birth of their first child, they cannot have a vaginal birth. This is not true, and a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) is possible too when the pregnancy is normal and without any complications. So put your feet up, relax and watch for those early signs of labour. Soon you will be on your way to having a healthy and beautiful baby.