Are you planning a second pregnancy? Are you wondering what you should know before planning to have another child? Do you want to know what to expect when you are expecting a second baby?
For this part of our series, we’re talking about second pregnancies.
I have to admit when the Inspira team came up with the topic of second pregnancies I needed some convincing that there was information moms needed to know. After all, isn’t having another baby just like having the first one?
When you are pregnant again, you know the signs, the symptoms, and what you want your birth plan to look like. What else could there possibly be to know before having another baby?
Turns out there’s a lot to know. Dr. DiJoseph, of Inspira Health, had a wealth of information to share with moms planning a second pregnancy. I have to admit after our interview I was astounded. As a mom of 3 boys, there was so much news that was new to me.
Dr. DiJoseph shared how there has been a reawakening of the importance of the postpartum period, we can call this the fourth trimester.
What is the fourth trimester?
The fourth trimester is the period from when a mom delivers to three months after the delivery. For moms and babies it’s a period of many changes.
Dr. DiJoseph explained that women go through a number of hormonal and physical changes. He urges women to get postnatal care just as they would get prenatal care. It’s just as important.
Those postnatal, follow-up appointments are a mom’s opportunity to have her immediate needs met. OB/GYNS will discuss how labor went, how recovery is going, and any concerns that need to be addressed before a second pregnancy.
Just as with prenatal care at Inspira Medical Centers doctors follow moms closely to make sure moms and babies are doing well.
With that in mind we’re sharing what to expect during a second pregnancy and answering questions you may have.
What to expect during a second pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body goes through an incredible number of physical changes. During your second pregnancy, you may experience these changes earlier on because your body already knows how it needs to respond.
For example, muscle memory plays a large part in pregnancy, particularly in regard to both your joints and uterus. Your uterus will expand much easier now, which in turn will make your baby bump appear earlier.
Are second pregnancies easier or harder?
The thinking generally is that second pregnancies should be easier. Your body knows what to do and prepares to do it earlier.
Second pregnancies aren’t always easier though. There’s a few factors that will play a role in your pregnancy.
3 Reasons a second pregnancy may be easier
- As we mentioned earlier your body knows what to do. Labor is usually shorter. The average labor time for a first time mom is 8 hours. For a second pregnancy it’s 5 hours.
- Suturing or episiotomies are less likely as your body has already stretched to accommodate the birth of a child.
- Testing may be easier as technologies are always developing. Use of invasive tests such as amniocentesis have been greatly diminished by the use of noninvasive blood tests that can reveal the same information.
3 Reasons a second pregnancy can be harder
- Symptoms can occur sooner. For example, your joints will likely begin to ache earlier in your first trimester, as your ovaries start to release a hormone called relaxin sooner than they did during your first pregnancy. This hormone circulates through your bloodstream and loosens both ligaments and joints in anticipation of going into labor.
- You may find yourself more tired. Balancing pregnancy and the demands of motherhood can be exhausting. As your firstborn starts to understand that they will no longer be the only baby in the family, teaching them about what to expect with a new brother or sister at home will likely start to take up a good amount of your time. It may be harder to get the rest you were able to get with your first pregnancy.
- There could be complications. Even if you didn’t have any complications with your first birth, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed the same experience the second time around. Postpartum depression or preeclampsia may occur in a second pregnancy even if they didn’t with your first child.
Additionally, doctors need to factor your age into the equation when determining the risks involved with a second pregnancy.
When can a second pregnancy be risky?
A pregnancy can be risky when a mom doesn’t get routine prenatal care. It’s especially risky if a mom had previous complications or has reached a particular age.
Previous complications during pregnancy
Conditions such as hypertension, preeclampsia, Diabetes, postpartum depression, and others have the risk of recurrence with each additional pregnancy.
What does age have to do with pregnancy risk?
At age 35, the complications and risks during pregnancy increase.
- As women age we become more at risk for changes in our genetic material.
- The quality of a woman’s eggs changes and that can lead to chromosomal changes.
- Age also brings with it an increased risk of moms having diabetes, hypertension, arthritic conditions, thyroid issues, and more.
Do I have to have another C-section?
The old adage of once a C-section always a C-section is no longer true.
Inspira doctors will always encourage women to deliver vaginally after a C-section but not at the risk of a mom’s well-being. There is a shared decision making process that happens between mom, the OB/GYN, and a support partner (if mom chooses). Together they will consider:
- Why a C-section was done the first (or previous) time.
- Will those same factors affect this pregnancy?
- Is mom planning to have additional children?
- Are there risks from new complications not present with the previous delivery?
These are important considerations as each additional C-section brings additional risks and complications to mom.
How long should I wait to get pregnant again?
It’s a question many moms ask. If you understand the risks with pregnancy increase with age and you want to have more than one child you may be wondering how long you should wait before trying to become pregnant again.
Dr. DiJoseph mentioned 18 months between delivery and conception is ideal. Anything less is considered a short interval pregnancy. It comes with increased risk because the uterus may not have fully recovered from the last delivery.
How can I make my pregnancy less high-risk?
Postnatal/post-delivery, follow up care is extremely important. Too many women don’t get the follow up care they should.
You wouldn’t skip your baby’s well visit and you shouldn’t skip your follow up visits. Yes, it’s a vulnerable, demanding time for a new mom, but an OB/GYN or midwife can be there to address immediate needs and forthcoming needs a mom may have.
At postnatal post-delivery appointments OB/GYNS will discuss
- How labor and delivery went.
- How is mom recovering from labor and any complications?
- How things are going.
- Any issues related to nursing and how Inspira lactation consultants in South Jersey help breastfeeding moms.
- Testing for postpartum depression and Inspira Health Postpartum Depression services for South Jersey moms.
- A plan for future children. What should be done now? What needs to be done before the next pregnancy?
Between pregnancies is the best time to address health needs before an additional pregnancy. The best outcomes come when mom and her Inspira OB/GYN work together to create a plan that allows mom and babies to do well and moms to own their pregnancy.
If you had a second pregnancy, was it easier or harder? Let us know!
To make a plan to own your pregnancy, contact Inspira Health.
For this post I did research and talked to Dr. Bejamin DiJoseph, a board-certified obstetrician with Inspira Medical Group.
More about Inspira Medical Centers
To read more about Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill and the services offered there, as well as the other Inspira Medical Centers in South Jersey, visit these articles:
- 10 Reasons to Deliver your Baby at Inspira Medical Centers in South Jersey
- How Inspira Lactation Consultants in South Jersey Help Breastfeeding Moms
- The 10 Places in Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill that Every Mom Will Appreciate
- 5 Tips for Having a Baby at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill
- Inspira Health Postpartum Depression Services for South Jersey Moms
You can also learn more at the Inspira Health website, inspirahealthnetwork.org/own-your-birth-experience.