Why Is Weight Gain During Your Second Pregnancy Different From The First?

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Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal due to the hormonal changes in your body and fetal growth. If this is your second child, though, you may have observed that the weight gain during the second pregnancy differs from the first. You may feel heavier and notice your baby bump earlier than you did during your first pregnancy. If these early changes are worrying you, keep reading this post as we explain the reasons for differences in weight gain during the first and second pregnancies.

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Weight Gain During The Second Pregnancy: How It Differs From The First

Now that you are in your second pregnancy, you will realize that there are many different things about this pregnancy than your first pregnancy. In fact, every pregnancy is different from the other, and has one crucial difference that you may note is your gestational weight gain. The amount of weight you put on throughout your second pregnancy will be quite different from how it was the first time. In addition to gaining more weight faster, you will also start showing sooner.

However, some women might not gain as much weight during their second pregnancy as before. For example, Libby McCauslin, a mother of two, talks about how her weight outcomes differed in her two pregnancies. She explains, “With my daughter Grier (her first pregnancy), I gained 50 plus pounds of pregnancy weight, but with my boy Banks, in my second pregnancy, I gained 39 pounds, which was significantly less weight (i).”

Here are a few pointers that will help you understand why you have a different pattern of maternal weight gain in second pregnancy:

1. You may be slightly overweight during your second conception compared to your first one

Weight gain during second pregnancy
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Once you have had a baby, it is difficult for you to lose all those extra kilos because of postpartum weight retention. Your body also takes much longer to get back in shape, especially to your pre-pregnancy shape.

  • If you have conceived in a short gap after having your first baby, it is likely that your body did not have enough time to shed the excess weight you gained during the first pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy affects you in many ways, and one of the biggest changes it does is to your hormones. Your hormones as well as your metabolism go through many changes during your pregnancy. At the time of your second pregnancy, your body will have already experienced many changes that can pile on the kilos faster and make weight management difficult.

A study with a total of 19,362 women showed an association between the interval between pregnancies and maternal weight gain at the start of the next pregnancy. There will be some weight gain by the start of the next pregnancy, but the quantity may differ based on the gaps between the pregnancies. As shown in the graph below, a gap of 12 to 23 months between pregnancies leads to the least quantum of weight gain.

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2. Your baby is positioned lower

Once you have a first pregnancy, your uterus never shrinks back to its previous size. As a result, your belly starts growing faster and even shows faster than the first time, making you look bigger sooner than before (1).

  • Pregnancy stretches the muscles of your abdomen, making them weak 2. As a result, your abdomen is not able to support your baby well the second time, which causes your fetus to move lower into the abdomen. You may feel it is not a good thing, but if your baby is placed lower, it will mean that you will have less difficulty in breathing and eating, as compared to your first time.
  • However, the problem that you may encounter when your baby is placed lower in your abdomen is the urge to urinate more frequently than last time. You will also experience a higher pressure on your pelvic area and your bladder, which can result in a lot of pelvic discomfort. Carrying your baby lower in the abdomen can also place more strain on your back, resulting in back pain that can sometimes become a permanent fixture.

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Some women may experience their baby kick or move earlier than they did in their previous pregnancy. It could be because they now know what baby movement feels like (1).

Extra Care During The Second Pregnancy

Do not engage in unhealthy eating
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Follow some tips to take extra prenatal care and minimize the risks for pregnancy complications during your second pregnancy.

  • Keep your maternal diet and cravings under control and do not give in to unhealthy eating. Make sure you eat healthily with adequate prenatal nutrition, such as iron supplementation and folic acid consumption and eat at home as much as you can.
  • Continue with exercising once your doctor has given you the go-ahead since exercise during pregnancy is very important and if you feel tired, continue with brisk walking.
  • Do not pick up anything heavy and never bend down directly. Instead, bend your knees while reaching down.
protip_icon Quick tip
Taking care of a child while pregnant can be taxing. So pay attention to your mental well-being and take some ‘me-time’ to relax and decompress.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will I gain more weight in my second pregnancy?

According to a recent study, wavering weight in the first pregnancy in women with average weight often recurs in subsequent pregnancies (3). In fact, a 2010 study highlighted that women who had excess weight gain in their first pregnancy were likely to have a higher weight gain in their second pregnancy. On the other hand, women with inadequate weight gain will likely have inadequate weight gain in their second pregnancy (4).

2. Will my belly be bigger in the second pregnancy than in the first?

An expecting mother may have a bigger belly in the second pregnancy. However, it isn’t always the case. Mothers may have a bigger belly in the second pregnancy, especially in cases where the mother has not lost her belly fat from the previous pregnancy.

3. Is a second pregnancy easier than the first?

According to gynecologist & obstetrician Dr. Nisarg Patel, “Some women may find their second pregnancy easier than their first because they are more familiar with the process and know what to expect. They may also have fewer symptoms of nausea, fatigue, or anxiety. However, other women may find their second pregnancy harder than their first because they must deal with the physical and emotional demands of caring for another child while pregnant. The best way to cope with a second pregnancy is to take good care of yourself and seek support from your partner, family, friends, and healthcare provider.”

Each pregnancy is different, bringing different experiences with it. Hence, you may notice that weight gain during your second pregnancy may vary from the first one. There are many contributing factors as to why there is this fluctuation. In most cases, this may not be a cause for concern. However, to prevent the weight gain from turning into maternal obesity, it is always safe to inform your Ob/Gyn about an increased weight gain and other discomforts you notice during your pregnancy. Then, based on their diagnosis, they shall look into the matter and put your thoughts at ease.

Infographic: Extra Care During The Second Pregnancy

Being on the pregnancy journey before, you would be more aware and experienced this time. So, as you embark on your second pregnancy, our infographic is here to offer some valuable tips and tricks for caring for yourself and your growing family to ensure a healthy and positive experience throughout the pregnancy.

extra care during the second pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

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Key Pointers

  • In the second pregnancy, the baby is positioned lower, causing the tummy to develop more quickly.
  • Hormones and metabolism are affected during the second pregnancy, resulting in quicker weight gain.
  • Lower-abdominal pregnancy during the second pregnancy may result in increased urination, pelvic discomfort, and back pain.
  • Baby movement may begin earlier during the second pregnancy.
  • If the belly fat from the previous pregnancy was not gone, the belly size may increase during the second pregnancy.
Weight Gain During Second Pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and important. Learn how much weight you should gain and how to do it safely.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. How does a second pregnancy differ from the first?
  2. Abdominal separation (diastasis recti)
  3. Rollercoaster weight changes can repeat with second pregnancy, especially among normal-weight women.
  4. Jeanette R Chin et al.; (2010); Gestational weight gain in consecutive pregnancies.
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