First things first, congratulations are in order! Welcoming a second baby into the family can be exciting and a little daunting. But hey, at least you have another set of little helping hands when the baby finally gets here. But speaking of the delivery, sometimes anxiety and excitement can go hand in hand. On one hand, you’ve done this before and know the drill so you’re way more prepared mentally and physically, but on the other hand, no one can predict how things will pan out the second time around. Or can we? Sure every baby and birth is different, and there’s no saying if your delivery journey will be the same as last time or look completely different altogether. But many women do report having an easier and shorter delivery than they did with their first baby. But is this really true? Does the second baby come earlier than expected? If you’d like these questions answered then keep on reading!
Do Second Babies Come Early?
This isn’t always the case. The second baby is still expected to stay put in the mother’s womb for a full term pregnancy, which normally lasts between 39 weeks to 40 weeks (1). But based on anecdotal evidence, most pregnant mothers estimate that their baby arrived before the due date they had been given. And this is often earlier than the first baby. This is also supported by a study that was done in 2001 which investigated the duration of pregnancy in 1,514 healthy pregnant people (2). The researchers found that first-time mothers had a longer duration of pregnancy, while mothers who had given birth one or more times had their babies born two days earlier. Isn’t that something! Another study that was published in The “European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology” suggests that the second pregnancy is shorter and closer to the 40 week mark than the first pregnancy was for most mothers (3). It was also observed that 20% of study participants who had a pregnancy gap of less than 12 months delivered their second baby a day earlier than expected.
However, in a recent survey done in 2022, the length of the pregnancy for first, second and third time moms indicated that the second baby arrives around the same time as the first one did, that is, at 39 weeks and 5 days (4). This survey analyzed the experiences of 2,437 second-time moms, and about 56.2% had their babies on or before the due date. So the statistics available to us right now regarding the topic show us that there is no hard and fast rule about the second baby coming sooner than expected. Your second baby may arrive just on time or may get impatient and turn up earlier. It’s important to not panic in either case, after all, every pregnancy is different. As long as the little one is healthy when they arrive, the question of when shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Is Labour Faster The Second Time Around?
Yes, many women have shared that their second pregnancy was half as long as their first one. So that’s definitely something to look forward to. Usually, during your first pregnancy, labor can last for anywhere between 12 to 18 hours on average, while averaging only 6 to 8 hours for the second pregnancy (5). This is partially because of your first baby. The first time you gave birth, it probably took around 8 to 12 hours for you to be completely dilated, that is, for your cervix to open wide enough for the baby’s head to fit through. But the second time around, it’ll take about 5 hours instead (6). And the best news is that the actual pushing is shorter for your second baby as well. Now that’s a reason to celebrate! You most likely won’t have to push for a whole 1 to 2 hours like you did the first time. This is mostly because the tissues in your pelvis have been stretched once before and are not as tight as they were originally. Besides, you already know what to expect and what to do, so you’ll step in more confidently into the process instead of second guessing everything you’re asked to do along the way.
Irrespective of if it’s your second baby or your fourth, labor is still taxing. So make sure you rest up and give your body the time it needs to recover. We hope you have a fabulous second pregnancy and a safe delivery!