You’ve been through it all before but you might think you are totally prepared to tackle your second pregnancy head-on! But then you actually fall pregnant and it’s so different from your first. And it’s largely down to that first bundle of joy who isn’t a little bundle anymore…
But whilst the second pregnancy might be tough (and we haven’t even covered off those poor souls who suffer from severe morning sickness or other debilitating conditions during their pregnancies too – our hats go off to you!) there’s something so wonderful and extra special about going through it the second time around. Knowing that your little one will be a big brother or sister and imagining what your babies will be like together and the sibling bond they will share.
Sure there’s fear about the whole new baby phase again, the sleepless nights and breastfeeding and that little thing called labour… But ultimately now you’ve experienced your first pregnancy (and raising a young child) you know that you are actually a superhero who can do anything that is thrown your way and you’ve totally got this.
17 symptoms you might experience during the second pregnancy
Morning sickness: This one is a pretty common pregnancy symptom and, sadly you might not get a pass the second time around – sorry!
Fatigue: Feeling more tired than usual due to increased hormonal changes and the demands of caring for a child from the first pregnancy.
Breast tenderness: During pregnancy, you may experience soreness and sensitivity in the breasts as you prepare for breastfeeding.
Frequent urination: Increased pressure on the bladder as the baby grows means that this is a pregnancy symptom that just can’t be avoided.
Food cravings and aversions: Yep, you’ll probably have a desire for certain foods and an aversion to others due to hormonal fluctuations.
Heartburn and indigestion: This is caused by the pressure of the growing uterus on the stomach as your pregnancy progresses.
Constipation: Ahh, one of the most feared pregnancy problems! This one is due to slower digestion thanks to hormonal changes and pressure on the intestines and is, sadly, not just reserved for first timers.
Mood swings: Emotional changes due to hormonal fluctuations.
Back pain: Strain on the back muscles from your growing baby bump.
Varicose veins: Enlarged and swollen veins in the legs can occur during pregnancy.
Braxton Hicks contractions: Irregular and mild contractions as the body prepares for labour.
Shortness of breath: Increased pressure on the diaphragm from the growing uterus.
Dizziness or lightheadedness: Changes in blood circulation and pressure.
Leg cramps: Painful muscle spasms in the legs, often at night, can be a feature of pregnancy.
Swelling of hands and feet: Water retention and increased blood volume.
Increased vaginal discharge: Hormonal changes affecting vaginal secretions.
Round ligament pain: Sharp or shooting pains in the lower abdomen or groin area as the uterus expands during pregnancy.
While every human pregnancy is unique, and all pregnant women will experience something different, here are 17 things you might not know about subsequent pregnancies and what to expect the next time around.
1. You’ve got this
You did this already, so the secret is out – you’re a superwoman! This time around, you know that you can handle morning sickness, pregnancy fatigue, giving birth, feeding, sleep deprivation and living with toddlers (which we know now can be positively brutal). So, during your second pregnancy, try to give yourself some credit for how amazing you truly are!
2. You thought you knew what tired was before
You thought you knew what tired felt like thanks to your first pregnancy. HA! What a glorious naive little thing you were. Oh, ignorance really is bliss. Expect to be even more exhausted during your second pregnancy (more on that next).
3. Sleep will elude you
If you’re lucky enough to have a kid that sleeps through the night that’s amazing: pass Go and collect $200*. Either way, if it’s not the kids waking you up, your bladder (or other second-pregnancy symptoms like your unborn child kicking you) most certainly will. Will you ever get eight hours of interrupted sleep again? Of course you will – and you will appreciate it even more when you’ve got two kids (or more!).
*Yeah you don’t get $200 but you have a child who sleeps through the night so that’s your prize.
4. You will forget you are pregnant most of the time…
Sorry #2 but it’s just a second baby fact that those daily/weekly pregnant belly snaps are few and far between this time because you are too busy chasing after your older child/distributing snacks… In your first pregnancy, it felt like you were counting down the days, but the blessing of a second pregnancy is that 9 months seem to go so much quicker!
5. You have much lower standards
With your second child, you know that babies actually need very little. This is handy because you don’t have the same amount of time (or energy!) for second baby shopping or prepping the nursery as you did in your first pregnancy. Hand-me-downs are good for the environment, the wallet and your sanity!
6. Your worries will be different this time
Sure some worries will be the same however, you’ve possibly got a few new ones during your second pregnancy. Like, wondering how your first baby will take having a second child in the house? How you will juggle more than one child and how you could ever love another like you love your first. Spoiler: you can and you will and your eldest will adapt to the new baby (although we can’t guarantee it will be easy at least for a little bit – sorry!)
7. You will become an unwilling human amusement park
Your older child shows a sudden interest in UFC and you find yourself saying the phrase “please don’t head butt/kick/knee/bodyslam your little brother or sister” much sooner than you thought you would have to.
8. Your first child might become super needy…
During your second pregnancy, your older child might seem to acquire a sixth sense ability to know exactly when you are at your weakest, most tired, most vulnerable point to suddenly needing to be held/carried/entertained/rocked/fed. Try to get as much quality one on one time with your eldest as possible – after all, they are used to being an only child so it’s a big adjustment to make!
9. …OR they don’t want you at all
They might not know what’s going on but they know something is going on and they’re not sure about it and might also suddenly not want you at all… Don’t take it personally but do use the moments they only want Daddy to nap/rest.
10. Second pregnancy symptoms (and the baby bump) come on hard and fast
Think back pain (a clingy first baby who suddenly needs to be carried everywhere), sore boobs, needing to pee every 6.7 seconds, uncomfortable sleep, pelvic pain, frequent urination, tiredness, so much tiredness… you get the idea. And that bump seems to appear almost from day 1, unlike in your first pregnancy.
11. Emotionally, it can really take its toll
During your first pregnancy the fear of the unknown can be daunting, you think the second pregnancy will be easier now that you know what you’re getting into… But the second time around can take you by surprise and you may find yourself *very* emotional. Remember, each pregnancy is different so try to embrace it all.
12. You’ll probably feel the baby’s movements sooner
During your second pregnancy you know what baby kicks feel like and what to look out for when the baby starts moving – so little flutters and movements you may have missed last time, you’re more likely to pick up on now.
13. Braxton Hicks contractions are more intense
Much like the kicks, you may feel Braxton Hicks contractions more in your subsequent pregnancy. This is due to your abdominal and uterine muscles having stretched and loosened from your first pregnancy, and also you know what to expect and what they feel like. Braxton Hicks contractions are most commonly experienced in the second trimester onwards, but may not be felt until the third trimester for some.
14. Back pain is more common in second pregnancies
It’s not just Braxton Hicks contractions that can plague a second pregnancy – many women also report more back pain, and earlier on, in their second pregnancy, compared with their first. This is likely due to a combination of carrying your first child, (especially if they’re still little) as well as weakened abdominal muscles from your previous pregnancy.
15. Labour and birth can often be quicker
This is not necessarily the case for everyone, but research suggests that, on average, second (and subsequent) births tend to get shorter. This is probably because the uterus and cervix have done it before during the first birth and they have stretched making it “easier” to go through it the second time around. So that’s a plus! As for the due date of baby number two? A recent 2022 survey on the length of pregnancy for first-, second- and third-time mums indicates that second babies arrive around the same time as the first, at 39 weeks and 5 days.
16. The afterpains get stronger
Whilst it’s good news about the labour often being shorter, unfortunately, it’s not such good news for the afterpains – in a second pregnancy these tend to be more intense and can sometimes last longer than they did the first time around. This is because, after your second pregnancy, the uterus has less muscle tone than the first time, and is more aggressive at clamping down as quickly as possible to decrease your chances of bleeding. This results in stronger afterpains, the postpartum contractions that bring the uterus back down to size.
17. Remember every pregnancy is different
Things might not go the same the second time around – and that’s ok. Don’t be surprised or discouraged if this pregnancy or birth is very different from your first. We know it’s hard, especially if you had a traumatic experience, but do your best to focus on this baby and this pregnancy and birth experience – and your perfect little baby!