Every pregnancy is unique, and for better or for worse, your second pregnancy will probably different from your first. That's not to say there won't be some similarities — pregnancy follows a similar trajectory each time. You'll definitely benefit from your experience, being a veteran mom, but you're probably in for more surprises than you might think. Everyone assumes you know what you're doing this time around, which is why there are things no one tells you about your second pregnancy. I, however, am happy to tell you all about it.
I'm currently expecting my second child, and at eight months in, I can tell you it's sort of like watching a movie for the second time. You know the basic plot line, but you notice more along the way (and you have to leave the theater to pee more often). Everything feels like it's happening sooner, from wearing my maternity clothes to feeling those first flutters and kicks. I had hoped that I'd be spared some of the more horrific aspects of my first pregnancy, such as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and thrombosed hemorrhoids, but I had both again. The one good thing is that I knew what I was dealing with and, as a result, didn't hesitate to advocate for myself.
As you prepare for your second viewing of your own personal version of Knocked Up, you'll want to brace yourself for the following:
You'll Be More Tired
Pregnancy fatigue doesn't go away just because you're not a novice anymore, and it's certainly exacerbated by the fact that you're likely taking care of your first child at the same time you're growing another one. I had no idea how much I took those first pregnancy naps for granted.
According to Today's Parent, second-time mamas are less likely to take their prenatal vitamins, which can negatively affect energy levels. You're also more likely to be iron deficient, according to Women's Health. Take your supplements, ladies!
You'll Have More Aches & Pains
With a second pregnancy, a combination of quickly relaxing joints and a lower-lying baby make you more susceptible to all kinds of aches and pains. I felt like my back pain came on way earlier than seemed reasonable, because I wasn't even carrying that much extra weight yet.
According to BabyCenter, back pain becomes increasingly common with each subsequent pregnancy. This is especially true if you didn't get your abdominal muscles back in shape after you had baby number one. Oops.
You'll Show Sooner
Fun fact: your uterus doesn't shrink back to its original size after you have a baby. Your abdominal muscles have been stretched out, too. Your body's been down this road before, and damned if it doesn't remember, resulting in a posthaste pooch.
Like most second-time moms, my bump is bigger than it was with my first baby at every stage of this pregnancy. And literally no one hesitates to remind me of this fact.
Your Morning Sickness Will Be Back
According to Parents, if you experienced nausea and vomiting during your first pregnancy, you'll probably have it again. Even if you lucked out the first time, you're not necessarily in the clear.
My hopes that the universe would have mercy on me this time around were dashed about a week after I found out I was pregnant. My nausea was unrelenting, and I threw up every single day, but this time with an audience in the form of a curious toddler.
You'll Feel Movement Earlier
According to WebMD, women in their second pregnancies feel fetal movement as early as 13 weeks (as opposed to 16-25 weeks for first-time moms). There are a few reasons for this. First, those stretched out muscles may help you sense movement earlier. It's equally attributable, however, to the fact that, whereas first-timers may dismiss it as gas, you recognize it for what it is.
I felt my son move around 16 weeks, as opposed to 22 with my daughter. What really took me aback, however, was the difference in activity level. Like, I'm pretty sure it's a baby in there, but it could just as easily be an insomniac chinchilla.
You're More Likely To Experience Braxton-Hicks Contractions
According to Parents, you'll probably have more Braxton-Hicks contractions due to decreased uterine muscle tone (a result of your prior pregnancy). These practice contractions can also be stronger with a second pregnancy. At least some of this is due to your bodily awareness as seasoned pregnant person.
Like many first-time moms, I didn't feel any Braxton-Hicks contractions at all. I was alarmed by their occurrence in the first place this pregnancy, but also by how early they came on (second trimester) and how painful they were.
You're More Likely To Be Incontinent
According to We Have Kids, a third of women experience urinary incontinence during a first pregnancy, compared with three-quarters of women on a subsequent pregnancy. Damage to the nerves that control the bladder, a prior episiotomy, and lack of recovery of the pelvic floor muscles are all contributors.
I did not faithfully do my Kegels (read: at all) and had frequent postpartum leaks following the birth of my first child. Not surprisingly, it didn't get any better when I got pregnant again. My biggest issue is stress-induced incontinence. In the first trimester, I would vomit so forcefully that I would void my bladder, and now I leak any time I cough or sneeze.
People Won't Be As Excited
When it's your first baby, your friends and family roll out the red carpet. You get lots of help, baby showers, and casseroles... lots of casseroles. Maybe it's because you've "been there done that" or it's just expected that once you've had one you'll have another, but people just don't make as much of a fuss over a sibling.
If you're anything like me, though, you will be just as thrilled as you were the first time, even if you're not as caught up in the details.
You'll Be More Confident
If you're Googling every little symptom, your pregnancy app is your best friend, and you are carefully monitoring your diet, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's your first pregnancy. Experienced moms who have been through a healthy pregnancy and birth benefit from a trust in their bodies and a relative assurance that everything will be OK.
This go around, my prenatal visits last a few minutes. I'm not planning to attend a childbirth class. I don't even have a birth plan or a go-bag packed yet. It's not that I don't care — it's just that I don't feel like a rookie anymore.
You'll Feel Guilty
Even with your increased confidence, there's still plenty to worry about. Exhaustion and discomfort of pregnancy can make it hard to be the kind of mom you want to be. And if it's bad now, your thinking goes, what will it be like with two? How can you possibly have enough love to go around?
As my mom likes to say, love only works in addition and multiplication. Still, I am distressed by the idea that I won't be as good a mother to my second child, or that I'll have to neglect my first to take care of the new baby.
Your Labor Will Be Shorter
Thanks to your experienced uterus, cervix, and vaginal walls, you can expect all phases of labor to be shorter this time around. According to We Have Kids, the average time in labor for first versus second pregnancies is 11-20 hours compared to 10.
It's not a sure thing, but as someone who labored for 29 hours, I'm holding on tight to this one, even if my afterbirth pains will be worse.