Updated: Apr 29
Congratulations! Each new baby is a unique addition to any family and likewise, your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period will be unique as well.
Just because you have "been there, done that" doesn't mean you feel 100% ready and know just what to expect. It's normal to have a similar mixture of excitement, anticipation, and even some fear and hesitation when expecting again the second time just like you did the first time around.
“A mother knows that she is new, just like her baby is new, with every pregnancy.”
Pregnancy, birth, and becoming a mom is not "one size fits all" so there is never any way to prepare for the "perfect" birth or the "perfect" family. Instead, take a look through the other side of the glass: see into your "perfect" miracle of pregnancy, including all of the unknowns and complexities and messy parts that make life real and beautiful. (No one knows this better than a veteran mom.)
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your second baby.
1. Physical changes.
You might show sooner because abdominal and uterine muscles were stretched during your first pregnancy. So there is a tendency to "pop" sooner with a subsequent pregnancy. On the other hand, you may have less breast tenderness and less food aversions than you did the first time.
2. You will feel movement sooner.
It may be because it's your second pregnancy but it may be because you're just more aware of what those movements are having felt them before. The first time you’re pregnant, you might think those movements are gas, but the second time, you recognize the flutters of the baby’s movement. (Which is magical. Enjoy.)
3. You feel more "Braxton Hicks" (or non-labor contractions) in your second pregnancy.
Your body uses Braxton-Hicks contractions as uterine toning exercises to prepare for birth and to help your baby get into an optimal position for labor. Also, you have felt real contractions before, so your body recognizes them as contractions whereas the first time, you might have just thought it was the baby moving.
4. Your labor is shorter. (Thank. God. Mother Nature is kind.)
Well, usually. The uterus and cervix have been through this before, so all phases of labor, right through pushing, are shorter for second-time moms. Studies show that subsequent labors and pushing are roughly half the length of first labors. (Now there’s something to get excited about!). If you were overdue for your first baby this may not be the case for your second. If you had a traumatic birth or a very long, exhausting and emotionally draining first birth, don't let the fear of that happening again hang over you! Often second births are vastly different than the first, but be sure to talk to someone about your first birth so that you have processed it completely. Giving birth is not just a physical act but a rite of passage for a woman that stays with her for a lifetime. If you need to talk to someone, we can connect you with one of our experts who specializes in birth trauma resolution and can help you wipe the slate clean before your second birth.
5. Your afterpains are worse.
Mother Nature is still kind. She knows you need those contractions to keep your uterus firm after delivery to avoid excessive bleeding. Thank your body for all of it's good and amazing hard work!
6. Your first child may grieve at first.
It may be difficult for your first baby to give up that spot of having all of your time and attention, but remember: a sibling is the BEST thing you can give to your child! Try to think of ways to help your little one prepare to meet their sibling, like bringing them to a prenatal ultrasound session at Nurture where they can see their little brother or sister and even capture the sound of the heartbeat into a treasured Heartbeat Bear! Other ways you can help them prepare are...
Getting their own diapers and wipes
Bringing their plate back to the kitchen counter
Getting their own snacks from cups you leave at "grazing stations" on the table.
Assemble the twin bed they eventually sleep in so they can see it in the room.
Research and visit preschools together
Set expectations so your toddler is a little less surprised when the big day arrives. There will still be an adjustment once the new baby is home, but your firstborn can refer to past conversations you’ve had about these expectations. Giving your child more time to adjust to these changes before baby arrives helps to make welcoming a new baby smooth and enjoyable.