Labor and Birth ~ the 2nd time around...
Each day brings with it new and precious gifts. I truly believe that and hope you do, too. It's not easy with Covid-19 clutching around our necks and lockdowns changing the way we live our lives. Not to mention we're entering in to the autumn season, trees are shedding their leaves and the crops are growing old in the family garden.
None the less, each day brings new opportunities for growth and change and even new beginnings.
A second birth is absolutely no different. Approaching a second birth is such an interesting process. First time mamas always talk to me about the fear of the unknown as labor loomed ahead of them, and for good reason. It is quite an undertaking and no matter how much you prepare ahead of time, nobody goes into a first birth totally ready. (That's why comprehensive childbirth preparation classes and labor support are so pivotal, for any birth! We'll talk more about that later.)
As you are thinking about the birth of a second child, you are likely wondering how much of it will be like the first time, and how much of it will be completely different. Will it be longer or shorter? Will it be more intense than the first time around, or because of previous experience, will you be able to handle it better? If you had a particularly difficult time the first go around, will the same issues pop up again? Here are a few things to be aware of when it is time to have Baby Number Two.
~Labor is more likely to begin on its own for moms times 2.
The average first baby is delivered around 41 weeks, 3 days. Seconds babies routinely come as much as a full week earlier and often without intervention like membrane sweeping or hospital induction. The thought is that your body has experience with the hormones of labor and will respond faster.
~Second labors tend to be shorter overall.
While not true 100% of the time, the vast majority of second time vaginal birthers will have a shorter labor. The average length of labor for first timers is around 16-18 hours. Labor for their 2nd time counterparts clocks in around 8 hours, give or take. Now there's something to be excited about!
~Pushing is likely to be easier, too.
Many second time mommies who spent hours pushing with their first labor are very concerned they will have a repeat marathon with their second delivery. The reality is quite the opposite. Most of the time the second stage, or pushing stage of labor is dramatically shorter the second time around.
~You are less likely to tear with a second delivery.
Because the tissues of the vagina and perineum were stretched a bit to accommodate your first baby, they have a little bit more "give" the second time, making your birth canal and opening less prone to tear and more able to take the pressure of baby's exit while staying intact. What a relief!
While none of these are hard and fast rules, they are much more the norm for moms having a second go at labor and delivery. With these things in mind, should you prepare differently for your second child's arrival? In a few ways, yes... Here are some ideas to get your ready for your second sweetheart's coming:
~Arrange child care for Baby Number One.
Getting a spur of the moment babysitter lined up after your water breaks is not an ideal way to begin labor #2. So plan ahead and ask a couple of people you trust to be "on-call" for Delivery Day. You will have real peace of mind knowing Big Bro or Sis has quality care while you are away.
~Make a list of preferences for labor.
Perhaps you made a Birth Plan for your first labor, but nothing went according to plan. This is very common with first births, as your body is trying to figure this labor thing out, same as you. This time around, things should go more smoothly and having a plan in place will help you feel confident and prepared. Who's going to take pictures and when? Who's going to cut the cord? Do you want skin to skin right away? By the way, a doula is a wonderful asset when writing a birth plan or preference list. Which leads me to...
Hire a birth doula, and a postpartum one, too!
If you didn't have helpful support during your first labor, it certainly would have made the process seem harder and more confusing. Hiring a doula is like having a tour guide through your labor. She will reassure you when you are worried and encourage you when your are getting tired. She will help you make sure your preferences are taken into consideration and make sure you have all the information you need to make decisions about your care in the heat of the moment. Click here to find out more information about my birth doula package. A postpartum doula will help your transition to a family with two children and make the process smoother. Armed with information, experience and resources, a postpartum doula reduces the feelings of being overwhelmed and can help stave off postpartum depression and anxiety. Click here for my postpartum doula information. A doula at any stage will provide education, at least as much as she is able. Oh, education! Speaking of education, you should also...
Take a Childbirth Class.
So you've given birth before. And you remember every moment. Do you remember the 3 stages of labor and when transition happens and what to do when your water breaks in the grocery store? The joy of your previous birth blurs the knowledge of the actual process of birth. And as I always say: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. (I didn't coin the phrase, but I'm a huge believer!) So take a childbirth preparation class. Or at least a refresher course. The combination of education and training labor support with a doula will be so helpful this time around. Click here for information about my childbirth class offerings. There are 4 formats to choose from and may be the only source of in-person childbirth education being offered during Covid-19.
And finally... if your first birth was calm and smooth, went according to plan and was the best day of your life, (like mine!) then congratulations! Here's good vibes that you will be twice blessed on the day your second child makes his appearance. Some mamas have the unfortunate experience of actually feeling somewhat traumatized by a very difficult first labor and birth. This can happen for so many reasons, and I plan to write about it soon. The wonderful news is that each labor and delivery presents its own set of challenges and experiences and what is often a faster, easier time can help heal the wounds of trauma after a difficult previous experience.
Congratulations on the arrival of your second sweet baby, best wishes! ~Chris