Will my second labour be easier?
What can you expect second time round?
The good news is that for many, a second or subsequent labour may well be shorter, as your cervix and pelvis has already stretched so it will be more efficient at letting baby through. Also, lots of mums pregnant for the second time find that their baby’s head doesn’t engage until the last minute.
But for some, a shorter labour can mean a more intense labour with stronger contractions; while dilation during the first pregnancy happens at roughly 1.2cm per hour, it’s more like 1.5cm per hour for second and subsequent births which can make things quicker, but possibly more painful. Afterbirth contractions can be more painful, too. Still, every pregnancy, like every mother, is different and some mums say their second labour is a breeze!
It’s also quite common to have a bigger baby second time around but ‘bigger’ doesn’t mean twice the size – only about 5oz heavier. But then, if you had a particularly large baby the first time, you may well have a more average-weight baby next.
If you tore during your first labour, it can be worrying to think it might happen again. Research suggests that adopting certain positions, such as squatting, or kneeling on all fours , during your second labour puts less pressure on your perineum. Perineal massage may also help – this involves gently massaging the back of your vagina to help it get used to stretching. If you’d like to try this, ask your midwife to explain the technique in greater detail.
Something new you’ll have to think about this time is arranging for a babysitter to look after your other children when you go into labour. You’ll no doubt want your nearest and dearest with you during the birth, which means making sure another reliable family member or friend will be on hand to step in at any hour of the day or night.