Why Your Next Pregnancy Might Not Be Like Your Last
Second pregnancies are often very different from the first. We discuss the reasons why.
When you’ve already been through pregnancy and childbirth, you are well-equipped with skills and experience: You’re wiser and won’t stress so much about the little things that you now know are normal; you’ve been through birth, which seemed scary before; and you know about the common problems like heartburn, nausea, and what it’s like to be heavily pregnant. But while lots of things will be familiar to you, you might also be surprised at the differences this time around.
You may have to bring out the comfortable pants sooner than expected. Firstly, the abdominal muscles and uterus have been stretched from your previous pregnancy. This also applies to women who didn’t show until quite late during their first pregnancy. Secondly, if you haven’t lost the ‘baby weight’ from before, your body will likely feel and look a little different.
Sometimes parents think this is because the baby will be a different gender. And it certainly might be — after all, it is a 50/50 chance. But most of the time carrying lower is, again, because the abdominal muscles are not as taut as during your first pregnancy.
You may need more nutritional support during subsequent pregnancies. This is particularly important if you’re having babies close together (12 to 18 months between giving birth and falling pregnant again) because although pregnancy is a very natural process, it is still a great strain on your body and you need time to recover. Of particular importance is iron. Your stores are often depleted from the first pregnancy and may not have had enough time to replenish. Low iron can leave you feeling drained of energy and breathless.
Feeling the baby
Many women reportedly feel the telltale tummy flutters earlier on. You now know what to expect and you recognise the feeling, whereas you probably brushed them off as gas before.
In your first pregnancy, you might have felt these contractions from the second trimester, and throughout the third trimester. This muscle tightening is the body preparing the cervix and uterus for labour — but they are not labour contractions. In subsequent pregnancies, you could experience these earlier.
There are also lifestyle reasons as well as physiological reasons why your second pregnancy is different. You are unlikely to have as much personal time now and having a child to run around after is tiring in itself without being pregnant as well.
Aches and pains
During pregnancy, your ligaments loosen because of the hormone relaxin. That may not have been so much of a problem during your first pregnancy, but when you are leaning down to pick up your child or bending over to collect toys, crayons and a dozen mismatched socks, you may start to feel achy or even injure yourself. Take care during this time; make sure you are bending at the knees and picking things up with a straight back.
Prone to complications
This is particularly important for mothers who have become pregnant soon after giving birth. Generally, this means 12 months or less between giving birth and conceiving again. It is not guaranteed to happen, but these mothers do have a slightly higher risk of pre-term birth and a baby with low birth weight.
On a positive note, you are wiser and more experienced this time, and you will trust your instincts. And you never know, you could very well have a second pregnancy that is identical to your first.
About the Author
Dr Stas Vashevnik is a gynaecologist and obstetrician at Glengarry Private Hospital. He is a firm advocate for giving the power of birthing choice over to mothers. To learn more about Dr Vashevnik, visit his website at www.vashevnik.com.au or call (08) 9246 1166.