Congratulations on your second pregnancy! Are you excited, or worried? Every pregnancy is unique, but you could be happy or anxious about it depending on how your first pregnancy was. The symptoms you experience during the second pregnancy are not completely different from the first one, but you may notice a few differences in how the pregnancy progresses.
Read this MomJunction post to understand the second pregnancy symptoms, and how you can cope with them through the pregnancy.
How Will Your Second Pregnancy Differ From The First?
Second pregnancies feel different possibly because your body is now familiar with the changes that happen after you conceive. Besides the usual symptoms of pregnancy, women who are pregnant the second time may experience a few new changes.
- Bump gets bigger sooner: Most second timers start to show the bump earlier than they did in the first pregnancy because the stomach muscles are weaker than the first time. As they have already been stretched once before, the abdominal muscles are less resistant to stretching the second time, and the belly shows soon as the baby starts to grow (1).
- Breast changes: Change in breasts is common during pregnancy, but the breasts become more tender and painful during the second pregnancy. They become more sensitive when you are breastfeeding, and the nipples may also hurt more. The pigmented area around the nipple, called areola, gets darker (2).
- Early baby movements: In the second pregnancy, you will feel the baby’s kicks and movements sooner because you will identify the sensations sooner. You’ll feel the baby being active before 18 to 20 weeks when they’re usually experienced (3) (4).
- Braxton-Hicks contractions: You will feel contractions earlier in a second pregnancy than you did in the first pregnancy. These false contractions are a body’s way of preparing for the labor. You will also experience post-birth contractions (2).
- Labor is shorter: Since your body has already gone through the process of childbirth once, it will take lesser time for cervical dilation and effacement the second time. First-time labor lasts for an average of eight hours whereas the delivery after second pregnancy has an average of five hours (5).
Will You Experience Any Symptoms That You Did The First Time?
Yes, some of the usual pregnancy symptoms you noticed in your first pregnancy may recur. They include:
- Morning sickness
- Frequent urination
- Food cravings and aversions
- Bloating and constipation
- Mood swings
- Nasal congestion
Some other experiences may also recur the second time.
Will Your Pregnancy Complications Reappear This Time?
The complications you had in the previous pregnancy are likely to occur in the second pregnancy as well.
Complications such as high blood pressure, premature labor, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or postpartum depression might also occur in the subsequent pregnancy, especially in the case of more than one fetus. However, there is no definite evidence to back this.
If you are apprehensive of any possible complications the second time, talk to your doctor about it and see if they can be avoided.
Can You Test Earlier With The Second Pregnancy?
You may not even require a pregnancy test to confirm your second pregnancy, as you start showing the symptoms sooner than you did before, and you’ll know it. However, it is best to wait until a week after you have missed your period to get an accurate pregnancy test result.
Is The Second Baby Easier To Deliver?
Second babies are usually easier and faster to deliver. Since the muscles, bones, and tissues have undergone stretching previously, it becomes easier for the baby to move through the birth canal in the successive delivery (6).
Second Pregnancy After Cesarean
An immediate pregnancy after a cesarean delivery can leave you exhausted. So it is best to wait for at least six months for a second pregnancy after your first cesarean section. Waiting for a year is much better as that will give enough time for the body to heal completely and replenish the lost nutrients (7).
A smaller gap could also increase your risk of complications such as premature birth, low birth weight of the baby or a ruptured uterus.
Coping With Your Older Child During The Second Pregnancy
The idea of managing pregnancy while taking care of an older child can be overwhelming. While there are several things to consider before having a second child, talking to your older child and helping them understand what to expect and how to prepare for it could make matters simple (8).
- Tell the child about a new one growing inside your womb, and encourage them to pat your bump, talk or sing to the baby.
- Take them to prenatal check-ups, and let them also listen to the fetal heartbeat sometimes.
- Mention about the baby frequently, but be careful not to go overboard lest they get jealous.
- Involve them in shopping for the baby. Let them choose simpler things like clothes and toys for the little one.
- While you do sensitize the older kid about the baby, make sure you spend some time with them. Go to a library or a park with them, or read some stories during bedtime.
- Give them responsibility and tell them about the things to do when the newborn arrives. Explain how to comfort the baby while crying, helping with diaper changes, giving attention and more.
- Tell the child that he or she will be a big brother/sister, and explain their role and importance in the family.
The idea is to make the older sibling feel loved and involved in important matters such as the arrival of the new baby.
Should You Stop Breastfeeding During Pregnancy?
No, there is no reason to stop breastfeeding while you are pregnant. Your body is capable of producing enough breast milk for the nursing infant as well as nourish the baby growing within (9). However, the breasts and nipples will become tender for some time.
Also, the breasts start producing colostrum (thick milk that is produced towards the end of pregnancy), and your toddler may not like the taste of the milk. At this time, you will notice a drop in the milk intake by your older baby.
How Will Your Postpartum Recovery Be Different?
You will already know what to expect, and the ways to cope with the changes. Things that happened with your first delivery may not occur with the second one. The labor also progresses faster, but it might take longer to get your normal body back after childbirth. In general, things will go smoother the second time since you will be more aware of how to deal with them.
How Can You Prepare For Your Next Baby?
Here is how you can prepare for the transition from being a mother of one to a mother of two.
- Arrange a family member or a babysitter to take care of your older child
- Keep everything ready in the storage (such as old clothes, car seat, jumpers, bibs, burp rags) for the new arrival
- Get the diaper bag ready before delivery
- Pack a bag for your older child so that it is easy to carry when you go to the hospital
- Check for the insurance policies
- Stock up the household and personal essentials
- Sterilize pacifiers and feeding bottles
Next, we answer a few common queries about second pregnancy symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is leaking milk an early sign of second pregnancy?
Breast milk could leak early during the second pregnancy. The possibilities are high if you are still nursing the older baby.
2. How much weight should you gain with your second pregnancy?
According to the US Institute of Medicine (IOM), women of average weight before pregnancy should be gaining around 11.5 to 16kg during pregnancy (10). The ideal weight gain remains the same irrespective of which pregnancy it is. The weight gain during second pregnancy could be more than that of the first pregnancy.
Although the second pregnancy is not entirely different from the first one, it is exciting to experience the beautiful journey all over again. You will also find it is a new learning experience with new symptoms, while the familiar experiences make it easier to handle.
Do you have something new to share about your second pregnancy? Let us know in the comment section below.
2. Katie Tamony; Your Second Pregnancy: What to Expect This Time
3. Penny Simkin et al.; Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide; Page 434
4. Anders Linde et al.; Fetal movement in late pregnancy – a content analysis of women’s experiences of how their unborn baby moved less or differently; BMC Pregnancy Childbirth (2016)
5. Philip N. Baker and Louise Kenny; Obstetrics by Ten Teachers, 19th Edition; Page 191
6. Differences Between Labor With Your First & Second Baby, Explained By OB-GYNs; Saddleback Medical Center; MemorialCare (2018)
7. Getting pregnant again; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Office on Women’s Health (2018)
8. Kyla Boyse; Preparing Children for a New Baby; University of Michigan Health System
9. López-Fernández G et al.; Breastfeeding during pregnancy: A systematic review; Women Birth (2017)
10. Pregnancy and birth: Weight gain in pregnancy; Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) (2018)