When I was pregnant with my first baby, I learned so much! Every week held new information about my body and my baby’s development. I pored over magazines about fit pregnancy, read What To Expect When You’re Expecting (because that’s just what you do, right?), studied Hypnobirthing, watched videos on YouTube and binge watched the entire I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant series. I occasionally indulged in some sort of pregnancy craving, like a root beer float, but mostly, I ate salads and brown rice and plenty of time-consuming, healthy meals. Oh, and I practiced prenatal yoga and meditated on the health of my baby. Or something.
The second time around? Not so much. I mean, I walked around assuming that, since I’d been through it all once before, that it would pretty much all be the same. Spoiler: I was very wrong.
The difference between your first and second pregnancy isn’t even so much the fact that the actual pregnancy may present differently, although that can happen. It certainly did with me. Of course, my second baby was also two pounds heavier than my first, so that might have had something to do with it as well. No, the real difference is the fact that you have to be a mother to an energetic young child at the same time as being exhausted from, you know, growing another human inside of you.
So while you may think you’re in for the exact same experience as pregnancy number one, you are most likely mistaken, for better or worse. Your first pregnancy is a special time, and your second is one to survive, it seems. (OK, it’s still pretty special.) But that’s fine — you already have one (or more if you had multiples the first time!) fantastic child(ren), and will soon have another, and that’s worth all the craziness you need to endure. Here are all the ways pregnancy is different the second time.
Remember the first time you were pregnant, and you were just aching for everyone to be able to look at you and tell? It took forever. The whole first trimester went by, and a lot of the second trimester, and you maybe looked bloated, but not actually pregnant. This is NOT something you need to worry about the second time around. Most people basically look pregnant before they even realize you are. (This is, of course, a generalization; you might take a longer time to start poppin’ off, even if it’s your 5th pregnancy, and obviously that’s fine.)
Your first pregnancy probably involved poring over books about birth and pregnancy, learning everything you could about what was happening inside of you. Maybe you went out for your favorite meals whenever you felt like it, and indulged every whim. Now? Chances are, you’re spending most of your time running after your other kid and trying to nap when they nap, and oh yeah, maybe having a job to go to. There are possibly still baby books and urgent, craving-related food runs, but they’re no longer the center of your pregnant universe. That honor still goes squarely to your already-born kid.
When I think back to my first pregnancy, the word that comes to mind is “luxurious.” It’s a weird word to describe pregnancy, unless you’re comparing it to subsequent pregnancies. You have all this time to pay attention to and revel in the subtle changes your body is going through! The second time, you’re trying to keep your other kid from melting down, keeping them fed, taking them to school, or keeping them amused, or… well, you get the point. Hell, there were times when I was expecting my second child that I forgot I was pregnant entirely; I was so preoccupied with what was happening outside my own body.
OK, this may have just been me, but I studied for my first birth like I was going into finals: Books, workshops, you name it — my pregnancy was all about giving birth. But really, after going through labor the first time, especially unmedicated back labor (*moment of silence for that struggle*), I wasn’t quite as worried for the second. I mean, I was worried on a certain level, but I knew I had survived my first labor, and would likely survive my second as well. I had bigger fish to fry. Which leads me to my next point...
This is what I spent my second pregnancy worrying about: How would I get child #1 to nap if I had to breastfeed child #2? What if child #2 had a poop explosion while I was feeding child #1 lunch, and child #1 started to have a meltdown and wouldn’t stop screaming? Oh, the possibilities.
Again, this may be just me, but I cared a whole lot less the second time around what type of nosh went into my body. Sometimes, getting anything in me was a major feat. Other times, I was so hungry all the damn time, I felt like I just ran out of healthy options. This could be because I was just trying to survive the sheer exhaustion of parenting a toddler and growing a person inside my body, or it could be that I was a bit cynical the second time around. After all, I ate so incredibly well the first time, and my daughter was so skinny, she dropped off the growth charts.
Like I said, between trying to keep child #1 happy in the million ways required, the various discomforts of pregnancy, and well, the actual process of growing a new life inside of you, your body is running on empty half the time. But guess what? Your kid still needs you. So you don’t get the breaks you got the first time around. You keep going, because that’s the game, and you become vaguely narcoleptic as a result. No big deal. You still got this.
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