When you find out that you are pregnant for the second time you may take the news more calmly, although hopefully no less joyously, than with your first pregnancy. After all, you now have the benefit of experience and know what amazing changes your body goes through on the journey to motherhood. But you might also be wondering how this pregnancy will differ from your first and, while the details of your pregnancy will be entirely personal, there are quite a few experiences that are common for second-timers.
Pregnancy symptoms - Some women say that they have very similar pregnancies each time, but most find that each pregnancy is at least a little different. Many women find that if they had morning sickness the first time round it's not as bad with the second pregnancy, but some will find it is the same or worse. If you skipped through the first trimester with no morning sickness and blooming skin last time around, there's no saying that you'll be so lucky this time. Likewise if you had strong pregnancy symptoms in your first pregnancy, but don't this time, then it doesn't necessarily mean that there's a problem with this pregnancy, it's just different.
Earlier bump - Because your womb has expanded once already and your abdominal muscles lost tone with your first pregnancy, it's normal for your waistline to expand and your bump pop out earlier this time around. You are likely to need maternity clothes several weeks earlier, but don't worry, this doesn't mean that you'll end up far larger at the end of the pregnancy.
Fetal movements - You're likely to feel these earlier for two reasons, the first due to the growth of your womb, and the second reason is that this time you're more likely to recognise fetal movements, as this time you know what they feel like and are less likely to mistake them for tummy rumblings or wind.
Energy levels - While this pregnancy itself won't necessarily make you any more tired than your first did, you will have to cope with the physical demands of pregnancy while also being a mum and doing your usual work. There's the coaxing toddlers (back) into bed, tidying toys, laundry and all the rest waiting for you at the end of the day - and you thought you didn't have enough time to rest and put your feet up last time around! So you can expect to feel very tired at times indeed, particularly in the first and final trimesters. Getting rest is harder this time around, but do try to give yourself time to take it easy: ditch non-essential household tasks, ask for extra support from your partner and family and get early nights as far as you can.
Not counting the weeks - While in your first pregnancy you may have been very aware of your pregnancy's progress and spent a good deal of emotional time preparing yourself for being a parent, many second-time around mums simply don't have the time or energy to think about their pregnancy so much, "With Josh I knew how far I was along to the day," said Susan, "this time I can't even keep track of what week I'm in!" Being so busy might leave you feeling less emotionally involved with this pregnancy, but on the positive side it also means that second pregnancies are likely to seem to go by more quickly.
Caring for you and your baby -
The down side of having so little time to think about your second pregnancy is that it's easier to neglect to take good care of yourself and your body this time around. While you will doubtless have less opportunity to focus on giving your new baby as wholesome an environment as possible, do try to remember to eat well and get daily exercise if you possibly can. Save time by buying foods that are healthy while being quick to prepare and taking exercise with your first baby in tow, getting out into the fresh air as often as you can. You may well be tempted to be more lax with avoiding potentially harmful foods this time around, but do remember that the guidelines for eating and drinking safely are exactly the same with this pregnancy and do consider any risk that you take with food.
Your partner & support - Just as you have less time for this pregnancy, it's not uncommon for partners to be less interested in the second pregnancy than the first. Some women are lucky enough to have enjoyed 'treasured vessel' status with a first pregnancy, with the partner alert to their progress, needs and emotions, as well as being keen to come along to ultrasounds and antenatal classes, but few are lucky enough to experience this twice. Although you'd think that having been through it once your partner would be more aware of what you need, you may well find that you need to actively request more support and understanding in this pregnancy as the novelty factor isn't there this time around.
Pregnancy discomforts - Most women suffer at least a few pregnancy discomforts and while you're not bound to experience the same again, many pregnancy discomforts are more likely to recurr in a second pregnancy. These include haemorrhoids, varicose veins, joint discomfort and bladder problems and some, particularly joint discomfort, may be worse this time around.
Pregnancy complications - Some pregnancy complications are more likely to affect a second pregnancy if you suffered them with your first, among these Hyperemesis Gravida, Gestational Diabetes, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and pre-eclampsia, however, your second pregnancy won't necessarily be affected by a condition because you experienced it before. If you are worried about developing a condition that you suffered with in your last pregnancy then talk to your doctor about any steps you can take to lower the possibility of recurrence and any special care you may benefit from. Take some comfort that at least this time around you will be better prepared to recognise and handle the condition if it does recurr.
Involving your first child - One of the most significant differences with a second pregnancy is the need to prepare your first child for the arrival of the second. How and when you do this can really help to get their relationship off on the right foot (or not) as well as making your life with two easier. It's a good idea to give the elder sibling-to-be plenty of time to get used to the idea of sharing your time and attention and having a new playmate. Here are some ideas for preparing your child for the new arrival.
Labour - If you had a vaginal birth last time around, you may find that labour this time is shorter. While a shorter second labour is common, it's not necessarily the case and, as with your last baby, there's really no way of knowing how the labour will go. If you weren't happy with your labour / birth experience last-time around then you may be apprehensive about labour and anxious to make sure that this time is better. There are many things that you can do to try and prepare the ground for a better experience next time around, but do try to avoid setting your heart on an ideal scenario, as you won't know what will be the best course of action until you're in the thick of it. Afterbirth contractions are often more painful for second-time mums, and some mums will find them very painful indeed.
Bonding with your new baby - Many second-time pregnant mums worry that they won't be able to love a second baby as much as their first child. If this sounds like you then stop worrying. While you might not have as much time to daydream about your new baby now as you did with your last pregnancy, when your little one arrives s/he is going to be a special, unique character who demands your love, and you'll find you have plenty to share around. Some mums find that they bond with their babies and have an intense feeling of love for them from the moment they first set eyes on them, others may find that it takes a little longer for the bond to establish.