second pregnancy labor

Is Second Pregnancy Labor REALLY easier than the first?

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If you’re currently expecting baby number two, CONGRATULATIONS MAMA! How exciting! But let’s get real for a second, you’re probably wondering if second pregnancy labor is as EASY as everyone says it is, right?

And let me just say — I don’t blame you! I have been wondering the EXACT same thing since becoming pregnant with my second baby boy! I’m constantly wondering (and hoping) our birth will be much easier this time around.

So, I took to some hefty research AND a helpful Q&A with Trish, a high-risk Labor & Delivery RN & also a mama of 7! Trish loves empowering women through knowledge, especially when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood! You can read more about Trish at the bottom of this post!

Ready to find out if second pregnancy labor is actually easier than the first? Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer This post is for educational and awareness purposes only. This post & the opinions in it are not medical advice. You should ALWAYS seek and follow the advice of your medical provider. 

second pregnancy

What is the average labor time for the second baby (will second baby come faster)?

It’s always important to remember that every mama and every pregnancy will differ from one another.

According to various statistics, most first time moms will end up in labor for ~16-18 hours. Whereas second time moms will spend an average of ~ 6-8 hours in labor.

This doesn’t include early labor which is when you begin having mild to moderate contractions that are just beginning to form a pattern.

So to sum that all up — yes, there’s a pretty good chance your second labor will happen much faster than the first, BUT it’s not always guaranteed.

Chances of early labor with second baby

Most moms always want to know — will my second baby come sooner than the first?

First off – it’s key to remember that your due date is an estimated date based on the first day of your last period. And it’s pretty uncommon to have your baby exactly on your due date (unless you have a planned procedure).

According to an article on Motherly, they state that “Second time moms’ average delivery date is 40 weeks and 3 days”.

In another article written by The Bump, they say that “If you’ve experienced very preterm labor before, it increases your chances of another preterm labor, Bartos says…But if your first child was full term or even a few weeks early, there’s no indication that the second will come sooner.

So as you can see, there isn’t necessarily a concrete answer to this one.

As much as you want to meet your bundle of joy, sometimes it’s best to just take a few breaths and enjoy that baby belly while it lasts mama!

Is labor easier with a second baby?

“Yes, it usually is the case. I tell my mamas that the first baby paved the path if you will. The pelvic floor muscles and the ligaments have previously stretched to fit the first baby”, says Trish.

If there’s any fantastic news about second time labor, this is probably it!

Loving your labor

Is there any pattern of labor pain being more or less painful with the second baby?

According to most of the articles I was able to find, labor pain seems to be a bit more painful the second time around.

Some even mention that those pre-labor contractions known as Braxton Hicks can feel even more intense (but not painful per se).

Per Trish, “The pain may be more intense because things happen so much faster. With a first baby, you have time to acclimate to the pain as it intensifies. With a second baby, things may happen so quickly that you feel traumatized by the lack of time to prepare.”

second pregnancy

Another common concern with pain that comes up often, is regarding the epidural.

So I asked Trish the following: If mom had a failed epidural during the first labor, is it pretty common for the second labor to fail as well?

“No, I haven’t seen that to be the case. However, if it is due to physical structure of the spine, then yes it may be possible” she says.

Second baby labor signs

As discussed above, you may begin to experience a lot of pre-labor contractions which can be a little confusing as actual labor signs.

First things first — if you don’t remember the signs of labor from the first time around, taking a childbirth class could help to be a major refresher.

But just to give you some rough guidelines:

  • Increasingly painful cramping and/or low back pain
  • Water breaking
  • Bloody mucus discharge
  • Consistent/patterned contractions

Personally, I took an online birth class recently thanks to the whole COVID-19 virus halting life in its footsteps.

It was definitely helpful having those refreshers about what to expect and just how to prepare this time around with baby number 2.

I asked Trish her opinion on some of these specifics below:

Are there any key differences a second-time mom can expect when it comes to her body preparing for labor (losing mucus plug, water breaking,etc…)

Trish’s response was that, “Yes, be prepared that it doesn’t take as much work to get your body prepared. As far as the mucus plug, the second time around it can come out hours before labor begins, as opposed to a first-time mom who may lose it weeks before labor.”

If you had a cesarean the first time, does that mean you will have to have one again? Or would VBAC be an option?

If you’re unsure what a VBAC is, it’s Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.

Believe it or not, many women, approximately 60 to 80 percent have a successful vaginal delivery after cesarean, according to information from Mayo Clinic.

Per Trish, “To have a successful VBAC, you must be a candidate. Many women are falsely left to believe that their first cesarean was the only option. For example, If she were told that her pelvis is too small, I would get a second opinion”.

The best course of action would be to find an OB provider (or a couple) who is willing to listen to your concerns regarding a VBAC and weigh out the pros and cons together so that you can have the best birth plan in place for you and for baby.

Tips for second-time moms preparing for labor:

“Rest and maintain physical activity throughout your pregnancy. Prepare meals and your home, as this time around you have two children to care for after birth. Be ready to leave for the hospital quicker than you did the first time”, Trish says.

“Trust me,” she says, “…second babies are a breeze to push out.”

Will after birth recovery be easier with a second baby?

Postpartum recovery is similar to labor in that it will always be different for each mama.

Depending on whether you have a vaginal or cesarean delivery, you can expect a pretty similar recovery as long as there was no complications after birth.

The benefit to recovery the second time around is that you already have a pretty rough idea as to what to expect.

For instance, if you dealt with postpartum depression the first time, you’ll likely have resources or a plan to deal with it much sooner this time around.

If you had NO help with child care the first time around, you might be planning to call up a few close friends or family members this time around and have a better plan in place to help you out between baby and your first-born.

One thing to note is that you may struggle with your pelvic floor recovery this time around. That means if you’ve experienced:

  • urinary incontinence
  • pelvic pain
  • diastasis recti
  • or painful intercourse

these could be lingering issues this time around as well. One way to really be sure you’re pelvic floor is in good shape would be to:

  • Seek in-person help from a pelvic floor therapist.
  • Ask your doctor what the best route of pelvic floor rehab would be best for you.

There you have it, a breakdown of second pregnancy labor tips!

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Labor Nurse Mama Trish

ABOUT: Trish Brockway

Habibi House Shop | Labor Nurse Mama

Trish is a high-risk labor and delivery RN who has spent eleven years of her career traveling to work at top facilities around the country.
She is known for her natural birth techniques and patience for laboring patients. She is a mom of seven children, ranging from toddler to adult in ages.
Trish launched Habibi House Shop in 2017, which consists of handcrafted labor gowns, boho nursing covers, and modern baby products. She is also the primary content writer for Labor Nurse Mama, the Blog, and is known as Labor Nurse Mama on Instagram.
She is passionate about empowering women through knowledge and understanding of their rights during pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.
She offers online consults and is launching a comprehensive birth course in mid-April 2020.
*Use the links below to connect with Trish on Social Media*

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4 thoughts on “Is Second Pregnancy Labor REALLY easier than the first?”

  1. Hi Karissa! This is a great article! I’m also pregnant with my second and I write about pregnancy/postpartum and pelvic health. All the information you have in here is awesome! I didn’t think about my contractions being stronger this time but it does make sense so thanks for the heads up!

    1. Hi Chelsea! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 I will definitely check out your page as pelvic health and of course pregnancy is so important!

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