Differences Between Labor With Your First & Second Baby, Explained By OB-GYNs

When you're gearing up to deliver your second baby, the process may be a little less mysterious this time around (for better or worse). You already know the basics and probably assume that your second delivery will proceed in the same way as your first. Thankfully, having OB-GYNS explain the differences between labor with your first and second baby can give you a sense of what's to come. After all, the delivery room is not a place where you want to experience any surprises. To learn more, Romper reached out to Mai Hoang, M.D., OB-GYN, of the MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California.

In general, your second delivery will probably progress at a faster clip than your first one from start to finish. In fact, most babies after the first one will arrive in the world more quickly, which is good news to anyone who wants to have a big family. For a first-time mom, active labor takes an average of 8 hours, whereas subsequent babies arrive after about 5 hours of active labor, as noted in Baby Center. This accelerated timeline typically accounts for labor up to 10 cm, as noted by Hoang. But hey, no one ever complains about a speedy delivery, right?

Plus, this accelerated timeline includes the pushing process as well, as noted by Hoang. Chances are, your second baby won't require nearly as much pushing as the first. For anyone who found the pushing process agonizing (AKA pretty much everyone), this is excellent news.

In addition, women who are having a second baby (multiparous) tend to go into labor sooner, often before their due date, as Hoang further explained. This is in direct contrast to first pregnancies (primigravida), in which labor often occurs after the due date. These are all just generalities, however, and your second delivery experience may vary. To get a better sense of your second delivery's timeline, have a talk with your physician. But on the whole, the second baby often shows up in much less time than the first.

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But the potential differences in deliveries don't stop at the timeline. For instance, your baby's head may not engage your cervix as quickly this time around. During your first pregnancy, perhaps the process started happening days, maybe even weeks, before your delivery day. For some later deliveries though, the baby's head doesn't engage the cervix until you actually go into labor, as explained by Baby Center. It may take some nudging from the contractions to get your baby's head in position and ready to go. This is normal and typically not a cause for concern.

In addition, your state of mind about the delivery can make a huge difference the second time around. “Experienced moms are definitely more relaxed,” said Janelle Durham, doula and education director for Great Starts Birth and Family Education Center in Seattle, Washington in Babble. "The more relaxed you are, the more you’re working with your body, which can quicken the process." Basically, being able to relax and go with the delivery — however it happens to proceed — might make the whole process a little less strenuous.

For many second-time moms, you're probably too distracted by caring for your current kid to worry about the second delivery all that much. There's no time for anxiety about things that aren't happening right in front of you. (Who knew demanding toddlers could be so good for mindfulness practices?)

Again, everyone's experience is different. If your first delivery had any complications, or if you delivered by Cesarian on the first round, then these factors may affect your second delivery as well. On the whole, though, this isn't your first rodeo in the delivery room, so hopefully that experience only inspires confidence and gives you a sense of ease.

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