By no fault of their own, I had many well-intending people warn me that my second labor would be much harder than my first. This, as you can imagine, was not what I wanted to hear when pregnant with our second baby.
I would smile and nod.
When you’re pregnant, you have to work hard to not only grow a baby, but also keep a peaceful environment around you (and in your head!).
Take my word for it, if you don’t have something nice to say to a pregnant lady, don’t say nothin’ at all.
Even if it’s a personal story.
Some of these people were sharing their own experiences having multiple kids. I heard some advice once that I clung to during that time… when someone shares their negative experience with you, say to yourself:
“That sucks for you, but that’s not for me. And I don’t receive that.”
That was on replay in my head often during my second pregnancy.
I encourage you to adopt that phrase and think that when well-meaning people share negative experiences whether it’s their own experience or from someone they allegedly know.
You don’t have to receive that.
And, I’m here to tell you, your second birth does NOT have to be harder than your first!
In fact, it can be easier.
And yours can be too.
In fact, I would say that I exercised less (as long as you don’t count chasing around a toddler as exercise), I didn’t prepare myself as well mentally, and I even had a much bigger baby the second time! And, I still had a beautiful, and easier, birth experience.
Of course, if you’re going for a VBAC with your second birth, some of these may not apply to you. But, I still believe that you can have a much easier experience for your second birth, no matter the circumstances!
Don’t buy into what some people tell you about second labor being harder.
It doesn’t have to be.
So, here are some ways that my second labor was easier. Hopefully, this list can help put your mind at ease going into a second labor.
5 Ways Your Second Labor Will be Easier Than Your First
1) It was faster
My second labor was a third of the time as my first!
My first labor lasted a total of 30 hours while my second was only 10 hours from start to finish.
After my first birth experience, I always said I liked it being longer because I had breaks between contractions. But guess what?! with my second, shorter labor, I still felt like I got breaks between contractions.
With my first, I was at the birth center for 15 hours.
In active labor.
But with my second, I was only there for 3 hours before baby was born.
Getting the picture?
It will surprise you how fast your second labor can be.
With my first, I pushed for over 2 hours! With my second, I only pushed for 30 minutes.
Your body not only knows what to do, but it has also been primed for your second labor. It already knows how to dilate and push a baby out.
You just get to go along for the ride.
2) It was easier to cope
During my first labor, I learned the breathing techniques that worked for me. Practicing them beforehand never really worked for me, but once I got into my labor groove (and with the help of my doula), I found techniques that worked for me.
When I went into labor the second time, those breathing techniques all came flooding back. I felt better prepared to cope with each contraction because I knew what to expect.
With my second, I also had done more research on tricks that help during labor. I had been through it before, so I knew some things that worked, didn’t work, or that I wanted to try the second time.
For instance, I brought a rice sock to heat up and put on my belly during contractions.
I didn’t have that the first time.
And you know what? It helped!
I also had my positive birth affirmations ready. I brought them with me for the birth, but I had read them so often during my pregnancy that they were on repeat in my head so I didn’t need to look at the cards during labor.
I also tried more essential oils, a Labor-aid electrolyte drink, as well as some amazing herbal remedies such as herbal sitz baths and anti-anxiety teas that helped post partum.
I felt like I was better able to cope because I was better prepared.
Related: 5 Secrets to Avoid Pain in Labor
3) I knew what to expect
From the contractions of labor to the hormone roller coaster of post partum, it helps to know what to expect because you can better prepare and you can accept things when they happen.
I had thought that labor would be harder because I would remember the contractions and think “why did I choose to go through this again?”
But you know what? That thought never occurred to me.
In fact, remembering the contractions actually helped because I also remembered what positions worked and what didn’t work.
I was able to do labor lunges again which helped during my first birth.
And, I was able to get in the shower because I remembered that the water felt good.
Also, I expected another long labor like I had with my first, but ended up having a much shorter labor the second time so it seemed much easier because of my expectations.
4) I didn’t feel the “ring of fire”
The ring of fire is the sensation you feel when the baby’s head is crowning. Everything is stretched to the limit.
Some say this hurts. For me, it just felt like a burning sensation for my first birth.
But, I didn’t feel it at all during my second birth. I kept waiting for it, but because my body had already been stretched before, I didn’t feel a thing.
My boys head popped out with hardly a fuss.
During the pushing phase, my husband said that his head came out further with each push compared to slow progress with my first during the pushing phase.
I guess my body was already primed and prepared the second time.
Because I was expecting to feel the ring of fire mentally, when I didn’t feel anything my labor felt much easier and quicker.
5) It didn’t hurt to pee after
I remember the burning sensation when I went to the bathroom for the first time after my first birth. Even with water in the peri bottle, it still felt uncomfortable.
So, I was expecting the same with my second birth. I was pleasantly surprised to feel nothing.
There were so many things about my second labor that seemed so much easier because of my expectations from my first labor. And, because I felt better prepared the second time around.
Ways my second labor was “harder”
I put “harder” in parenthesis because it wasn’t really harder. It was just different than my first. I wouldn’t say there was anything “hard” about my second labor.
Labor is beautiful.
Because it brings life into this world. I am convinced that every birth story that brings life into this world is beautiful in its own way.
Each surge brings your baby closer to you. And, if you feel discomfort or pain, it is for a purpose—to bring your baby to you. So, here’s how my second labor was different than I expected…
1) The anticipation
The entire time I was pregnant, I kept anticipating what a second labor would be like. Would it be harder? Would I be able to handle the contractions? The physical demand? Would I be in good enough shape for labor?
But you know what?
It was all in my head.
The mental anticipation and dreading what might happen was far worse than actually going through labor. Because, as it turned out, I could handle everything. And, it wasn’t too physically demanding. I was in good shape.
If I could tell you anything about anticipating a second labor, it would be to
Trust your body.
You got this momma!
If you are dreading labor or wondering if it will be harder, you may just be pleasantly surprised because it can be much easier the second time.
2) I was in denial
During actual labor, I was in denial that I was in labor.
The entire time.
I was in denial that we needed to go to the birth center. Even though I couldn’t talk through contractions anymore.
I’m glad my husband finally said “let’s go!” (Read my second birth story).
I was in denial that labor was moving quicker than my first labor. In my head, I kept thinking that it would be another day of labor. Even when we were at the Birth center and things were progressing quickly.
Even during the pushing phase, I was in denial that my baby was almost in my arms.
The midwife told me to reach down and feel his head.
I shook my head no.
In my head, I kept thinking that I had pushed for over two hours the first time and that it would be the same. I only pushed for 30 minutes the second time.
She asked if I wanted a mirror to see his head crowning. But, I just couldn’t open my eyes.
Despite the anticipation and denial making labor appear more difficult, it was actually much easier, smoother, and quicker during my second labor.
So if you’re worried or wondering… relax, it may be easier than you think.
You can download my positive birth affirmations/mantras for free below.
In what ways was your second labor easier (or harder) than your first? Share your experience here, but let’s try to keep it positive for the pregnant ladies among us 😉