You’ve done it all before, the morning sickness, the tiredness, the swollen breasts, the expanding waistline – even the birth.  This time around you know exactly what you’re doing and what to expect – or do you? We’re looking at some of the differences you might notice when you’re pregnant for a second time.

A second pregnancy is often very different from your first. In some respects, you know exactly what’s happening to you and what to expect, so it doesn’t feel quite as exciting as the first time; but it often seems to whiz by much faster than your first pregnancy.

“The two main things about a second pregnancy,” says Liz Stephens, team midwifery manager at Southampton Hospital, “is that mums tend to be more laid-back about it and labour’s quicker. Labour’s also easier, from a midwife’s point of view though you might feel that you’re less in control and labour pains may feel sharper. If you had a normal pregnancy last time, the chances are that this one will be normal, too, but if you had a problem pregnancy last time, or were unfortunate enough to have a stillbirth, you will be monitored more closely.”

Physically, there are some differences the second time around:

  • You’ll feel the baby move earlier: maybe as early as 14 or 15 weeks, instead of 19-22 weeks
  • Your bump will show sooner – though that depends on the strength of your abdominal muscles and how much exercise you did between your pregnancies
  • Your baby is likely to be heavier – though that is not inevitable
  • Your baby’s head will engage later
  • Braxton Hicks contractions will start earlier and you may find that they’re stronger; aches and pains from stretching ligaments will also be stronger – particularly, says Liz Stephens, with a third baby onwards
  • You are less likely to suffer pre-eclampsia
  • You are more likely to get pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • You are more likely to feel tired in the last few months, as you’re probably coping with a toddler or young child as well
  • If you had a Caesarean last time, you may be able to have a vaginal birth this time (your midwife can give you more advice)

You’ll notice that there are some things that do remain the same, with each pregnancy:

“If you had stretch marks last time round, they’re still there so you’re likely to get them back again,” says Liz Stephens. “It really depends on how big you get and your type of skin.”

Your emotions are likely to differ this time round; you’ll have different worries,  you might worry whether you’re ready for another baby, how your older child is going to cope, and who’s going to care for your older child during your labour and birth (particularly if it starts in the middle of the night).

There’s also more potential for tension with your partner, because you’ll have less time to talk; it’s important to make time for each other and be more tolerant if you want to avoid rows. You may even feel guilty that a second or subsequent pregnancy doesn’t feel
as ‘special’ as the first, but this is very common – it’s simply that it isn’t ‘new’, this time round.

“The second time round, you can miss out postnatally, especially if you bottle-fed your first child and want to breastfeed your second child,” warns Liz Stephens. “You need to be proactive in asking for help.” Your midwife can arrange an antenatal ‘refresher’ class and the NCT can also offer refresher antenatal classes and postnatal support groups – visit the NCT website for more information.