18 Second pregnancy symptoms you did not see coming

Zofishan Umair
Zofishan Umair
Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on May 16, 2024 · 12 mins read

You've done it before, so the second time round shouldn't be any different. I mean, you WERE pregnant for nine months with a tiny human, so that makes you a bit of a pregnancy pro, right?

But then why do many second-time moms feel that the same journey of carrying a baby and growing belly becomes a whole new ballgame the second time around?

Reckon you know your pregnancy symptoms? Think again.

You’ve been through it all before so you might think you are totally prepared to tackle your second pregnancy head-on! But then you actually fall pregnant and surprise – everything has changed.

Some of it may come largely down to that first bundle of joy who isn’t a little bundle anymore, but there a few factors that can make this one different.

Many women feel the second pregnancy is 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!) but there’s something so wonderful and extra special about going through it the second time around.

And that’s knowing that your little one will be a big brother or sister and the joy that comes from imagining 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) a first-time mom knows she has the strength to do incredible things. This second pregnancy has nothing on you.

All the same, it’s nice to have a little heads-up on pregnancy symptoms and plan ahead!

18 symptoms you might experience during the second pregnancy

Just like the first pregnancy, your body goes through an incredible number of physical changes. However, in your second pregnancy, you may experience different symptoms from your first pregnancy symptoms.

  1. Morning sickness: This one is a pretty common pregnancy symptom and, sadly you might not get a pass the second time around – sorry!
  2. Fatigue: Feeling more tired than usual due to increased hormonal changes and the demands of caring for a child from the first pregnancy.
  3. Breast tenderness: During pregnancy, you may experience soreness and sensitivity in the breasts as you prepare for breastfeeding.
  4. Frequent urination: Increased pressure on the bladder as the baby grows makes this symptom is unavoidable.
  5. Food cravings and aversions: Pickles and peanut butter? Watermelon with mustard? Yep, you’ll probably have a desire for certain foods and an aversion to others due to hormonal fluctuations.
  6. Heartburn and indigestion: This is caused by the pressure of the growing uterus on the stomach as your pregnancy progresses.
  7. 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. But if you’ve learned anything from last time, it’s that a high-fiber diet and daily exercise work wonders.
  8. Mood swings: Emotional changes due to hormonal fluctuations. Time for your partner to give you a little extra emotional wiggle room.
  9. Back pain: Strain on the back muscles from your growing baby bump. That means you’re off dish-washing duty for a little while (there has to be some perks, right?)
  10. Varicose veins: Enlarged and swollen veins in the legs can occur during pregnancy.
  11. Braxton Hicks contractions: Irregular and mild contractions as the body prepares for labour. Many mums will (unfortunately) know the feeling.
  12. Shortness of breath: Increased pressure on the diaphragm from the growing uterus.
  13. Dizziness or lightheadedness: Changes in blood circulation and pressure can make you feel like the world’s spinning on a slight angle – fun!
  14. Leg cramps: Painful muscle spasms in the legs, often at night, can be a feature of pregnancy. There’s not much you can do with these except ride them out.
  15. Swelling of hands and feet: Water retention and increased blood volume might make your hands and feet thicken. So no stringy, strappy heels or tight bracelets for the moment.
  16. Increased vaginal discharge: Hormonal changes affecting vaginal secretions (a polite way of saying you may need to wash your undies more).
  17. Round ligament pain: Sharp or shooting pains in the lower abdomen or groin area as the uterus expands during pregnancy.
  18. Weird pregnancy cravings: Craving some chalk? Does the soap look like a yummy snack you want to nibble on? Some women are known to develop weird nonfood pregnancy cravings that include chalk, soap, and starch. The condition is called ‘pica’ and women who have a mineral deficiency or severe anaemia are known to have an increased risk of developing it.

Differences in symptoms between your first and second pregnancy

While every human pregnancy is unique, and all pregnant women will experience something different, here are 18 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 being tired felt like thanks to your first pregnancy. HA! What a glorious naive little thing you were. Oh, ignorance 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, 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 appear 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 do 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 catch some Zzs.

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.

Tip: Little things like shoes with good arch support, a chair with back support, and a good night’s sleep can help you stay on top of your game!

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.

Tip: Prioritize your mental health. Take time for some yourself, go for walks, and have date nights with your partner. If you need help, talk to your partner, a trusted friend, or a healthcare provider so they can help you find the support you need.

12. You’ll probably feel the baby’s movements sooner (Blame the weak abdominal muscles)
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, in your second pregnancy, you may feel more Braxton Hicks contractions. 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 onward, 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 in their second or subsequent 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. Labor and delivery can often be quicker
Who doesn’t love the idea of shorter labor and delivery?

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. But go with the date your healthcare provider gives.

16. The afterpains get stronger
While it’s good news about the labour often being shorter, 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 were the first time.

After your second pregnancy, the uterus has less muscle tone than the first time, and is more aggressive at clamping down quickly 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 or pregnancy complications the first time around, but do your best to focus on your second pregnancy and your perfect little family!

18. Expect the expected ….and the unexpected
The first pregnancy, labor, and delivery give your healthcare provider insights into what to expect. For example, women with complications such as premature birth, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, or postpartum depression PPD after their last delivery, are at increased risk in their subsequent pregnancy.

While some mums find that concerning, think of it this way: you and your healthcare provider know what to expect and will be better equipped to tackle it if it does happen. You never know, you might be surprised and find that your second pregnancy is smooth and free from any complications.

Wrapping it up

Whether you’re at baby one, two, three, or more – each pregnancy will have it’s own upsides and downsides. That’s just parenthood. Just when you think you’ve nailed it to a tee, the rug slips out from under you, and you’re back at ground zero. Lean into your support network and consult your healthcare provider at every step.


Pregnancybirthbaby.org.au (2022). Food cravings during pregnancy. Available at: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/food-cravings-during-pregnancy

Zhuo, R., Shi, X. and Wu, Y. (2023). Association between Parent-Child Relationship and Second-Time Mother’s Prenatal Depressive Symptoms: The Mediation Role of Parenting Burnout. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 20(1), p.491. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010491

The Better Health Channel (2022) Pregnancy – signs and symptoms. [online] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/pregnancy-signs-and-symptoms

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