How Your Second Pregnancy Might Differ From Your First
By Anna Keller, curiouser & curiouser
When I was pregnant with my now 3.5-year-old daughter, Maggie, things were pretty seamless from the start. Sure, I experienced exhaustion in the first trimester, some shortness of breath in the second, and intermittent heartburn throughout, but in large part I felt really, really good – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I assumed any subsequent pregnancies would be the same… until I became pregnant again. Maybe part of it had to do with being pregnant during a worldwide pandemic, but my second pregnancy most definitely didn’t start off like my first had. Come to find out, there can often be differences in a second pregnancy compared to a first pregnancy.
For me, most of the new symptoms in my second pregnancy were emotional ones. I found myself far more affected by hormone fluctuations in the first trimester of my second pregnancy than I had been during my first pregnancy. For someone who’s generally very emotionally stable, crying at the drop of a hat felt very odd and uncomfortable. And early on in my second pregnancy, I felt like my body was changing far faster than it had during my first pregnancy, which really threw me for a loop, too. I felt a fear that I’d be getting much bigger during this pregnancy, which led to pretty bad overall self-esteem and a lack of connection to this new baby. Not fun!
If you’re also pregnant for the second time and are experiencing different symptoms this time around, know that it’s very normal. Here are a few things you might be feeling during your second pregnancy that perhaps weren’t present the first time. (And good news – there are definitely things to look forward to during your second pregnancy!):
You’re likely to feel AND look pregnant much earlier in your second pregnancy
This is what I mentioned happening to me, and even though I knew to expect this second pregnancy reality, it didn’t make it any easier to deal with when it happened to me. It DID help me to remember that my body had done this before, so it made sense that things would start stretching a bit sooner than during my first pregnancy. It also helped to learn that during a second pregnancy moms-to-be are usually more tuned in to symptoms, because we’re more aware of what to look for. This can also help said symptoms seem a bit more pronounced, which can be hard!
You Might Feel Emotionally Distant Compared to Your First Pregnancy
With your first baby, you probably dedicated lots of mental and emotional space to thinking about your new baby constantly. (I know that was true for me!) With your second pregnancy, not only is this “not your first rodeo”, but you also have another child to care for. This can potentially lead to some guilt on your part, but try to cut yourself some slack. Life is different this time around, and that doesn’t have anything to do with how you’ll feel about and bond with your new baby once they arrive.
Your Second Baby Has the Potential to Be Larger Than Your First
So fun, right? Not only is this something to anticipate with excitement (ha!) leading up to birth, it also means you might carry your second baby lower than your first. (This lower positioning can also be because your uterine muscles aren’t quite as strong during your second pregnancy as they were during your first.)
You’ll Probably Feel Your Second Baby Move Sooner
This one is a great “symptom” of a second pregnancy, and it’s one I found to be true for my own second pregnancy. Feeling movement sooner was, of course, very reassuring (I love reaching that point in pregnancy where you have so much more confidence baby is doing well in there), but it also helped me start to feel connected to this new baby in a way I really needed.
Your Anxiety Levels Might Be Lower With a Second Pregnancy
You likely won’t be worrying about everything you put in your mouth, buying a beautiful maternity wardrobe, or stressing to come up with the perfect color scheme for the nursery. Things tend to be more lax with a second pregnancy versus a first pregnancy, and some of that’s good and can help take the pressure off. We have three months until our new baby arrives and have yet to set a single thing up in his nursery. But you know what? I’m not stressing it! We’ll get there, and it feels good to spend more time preparing my daughter for being an older sibling and soaking in our last few months as a family of three than worrying about those little details that really aren’t all that important (and always come together anyway).
You Can Probably Expect Labor and Delivery to Be Faster
Another great second pregnancy reality, right? Since your body has already gone through this process before, it’s common for second-time moms to labor for a shorter period of time (because your cervix is able to dilate much more quickly), and you can probably count on not having to push as long, too. My first labor and delivery were already very short (about five hours), and so I’m very curious to see how things go come next February. I’ve already been advised to get to the hospital as quickly as possible!
So fellow second-time mamas-to-be: All we might be feeling is normal, and there’s also some very good stuff to look forward to when it comes to a second pregnancy. Another thing I’ve found quite helpful this time around is to connect with a therapist to help work through some of the emotional imbalances I felt early on. Thankfully, those pretty well subsided after my first trimester ended, but I’m continuing to talk to her to help me be more present during this pregnancy, as well as having the added support that I know could be a big benefit for you, too.