There's no question that preparing forgiving birth the first timecan come with a lot of questions. For many, the first time they experience birth is when they aregiving birth themselves (except for watching it on TV—which, PS, is almost never accurate).When it comes to giving birth for the second time, you may find that you still have a lot ofquestions. Sure, you've done it before but giving birth is always a big deal, and it's natural ifyou find yourself wondering what yoursecond birthexperience might be like.Every birth is different. This is especially true if the "type" of birth differs—for example,if you had a Cesarean birth the first time and are planning aVBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean)for your second birth. If you are having a second vaginal birth, it will likely be at least alittle different than your first—though it's impossible to say for certain how your secondbirth will differ.

Here is what you might experience giving birth the second time around.


1. Your second labor might go faster.

While first labors usually last an average of 18 to 24 hours, second labors tend to clock in muchshorter, with an average of about 8 hours. Certainly, this will vary but most do experience afaster birth the second time around.Once you've given birth, your muscles and ligaments will sort ofrelax into the processmore readily, since everything has been stretched already, so the baby will move down more easily.Yourcervix can also dilate(open) faster.

2. Pushing is often faster in a second birth, too.

The muscles and ligaments in your pelvis and vagina have already done the work of making room forand pushing out a baby, so the second time generally goes faster. This varies too, but first-timemoms can push anywhere between 20 minutes and 3 hours, while second-time moms are usually donewithin an hour (often even faster).And, learning how to push can be a little awkward at first. But second-time moms already know howto do it, so they will push more effectively from the get-go.

3. You may go into labor sooner with your second birth.

Your baby's due date is at the 40-week mark of pregnancy. You've probably heard by now that yourbaby's due date is just an estimate based on thefirst day of your last period. The averagefirst mom will give birthat 40 weeks and 5 days.Second-time moms' average delivery dateis 40 weeks and 3 days—that is an entire week earlier!Because your body has already gone through labor, it's likely that it will respond to the laborhormones a little faster this time around, sending you into labor sooner.Waiting for the babyto come never gets easier though. If you're at your due date and want to try to get things going,here are some ideas. But as you know, once it starts there is no turning back, so try to enjoy these last moments as amama of one!

4. You might feel more crampy postpartum this time around.

Many experience cramping for the first three to five days when they breast or chestfeed. When thebaby latches, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps you fall in love with your baby,but also makes your uterus cramp in order to stop thepostpartum bleedingand to shrink back down to its pre-pregnancy size.

5. You might feel more confident—in birth and motherhood.

Even though your second birth will be different than your first, you have been through the process,and know a bit more about what to expect. You'll trust that your body can do it, and above all, youknow what you get out of it all—the sweetest little reward ever.And, you have already been rocking motherhood. Many moms find that they enjoy motherhood more thesecond time around, because they worry less and trust themselves more. And if you don't, rememberyou can always reach out for help.You've got this, mama!

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