It’s not uncommon for parents to put very little preparation into the birth of a second child. The first time around, childbirth is a great unknown which leads most couples to invest time and energy in preparation of the big day. With a second child, however, the big day can sneak up on you. Gone are the days of knowing exactly what week you are in and which vegetable most closely resembles the size of your baby. As you near the due date of your second child, we have a list of 3 things for you to keep in mind.
Consider Making Changes
If your first birth didn’t go the way that you planned, consider making a change. You might have the option to change your birthing location, your care provider or your birthing plans. Just because you already made these decisions with the first baby doesn’t mean that those choices will work the same way during a second birth.
Setup a time to talk with your partner about the big decisions for labor and birth. Making changes to your birthing location and provider can take a bit of time so the earlier you tackle those decisions the better. Since you have experienced labor and birth already, you have a better idea of what worked for you and what did not. Sometimes couples don’t take the time to consider alternatives for a second birth until it is late into the pregnancy when making changes can be difficult.
Labor Will Likely Be Different
No matter how many times you give birth, each time is very likely to be quite different. Ask an experienced doula or midwife and you might find a few common themes around giving birth a second time. You will probably hear them mention that labor can be quicker with a second baby. If you ever hear stories about unplanned home births or babies arriving in the car, my educated guess is that those were second babies. The reason for this increase in speed can be due to the fact that your body responds to the hormones of labor faster.
As you prepare for a second baby, talk about plans for getting to your birthing location. You might consider leaving a bit earlier than with a first baby. There is also usually a new factor that must be planned with a second baby: childcare. Make sure that you create a plan for childcare prior to reaching week 30 of pregnancy
Labor is Still Hard Work
The probability of faster labor might lead you to believe that it will also be easier, however that isn’t always true. Shorter doesn’t necessarily mean quicker. A shorter labor can mean a more intense labor. Contractions can ramp up quickly which can surprise everyone. The person in labor can have a difficult time realizing that labor is going quickly and the support person has to jump into action without much lead time.
Support techniques that worked the first time might work again, or you might now have better insight into what could have been even better for your needs. We recommend putting a time on your calendar around 25 weeks into pregnancy to discuss labor and birth. Below you will find a list of 5 great questions to ask as you plan your second birth.
Partner questions for preparing for a second baby:
1) What (if anything) could be improved upon with this birth?
2) What physical support techniques worked with the last birth?
3) What verbal support techniques worked with the last birth?
4) Does mom-to-be have any concerns about labor and birth this time around? If so, what are they?
Refresh Your Knowledge
No matter how long it has been since the last labor and birth, it is always a good idea to refresh your knowledge about labor and birth. Many educators and hospitals offer childbirth refresher classes. For partners, we recommend taking the SupportingHer online class. The short modules can be watched at your own pace and the 2 hour course can be completed in no time. Going through support techniques and looking over the handy worksheets available in the course will be worth the time and effort.