Some women may approach becoming pregnant again more timidly because of whatever experiences they had when carrying their first children. For example, if a mama had terrible morning sickness or struggled with uncomfortable swelling, she might not quite so happily approach the idea of doing the whole thing all over again.
And then there’s also the fact that if a first pregnancy goes quite smoothly, or might even be described as fairly “easy,” there’s no guarantee that it will all be a breeze all over again the second time around.
Is there any point to worrying too much about all of this? I don’t really think so! Unless the goal is avoiding dangerous health complications or something like that, it’s really more about comfort and having a positive experience – what we’re talking about here, basically, is the common pregnancy symptoms that affect a large amount of women.
Your very own OB is the best source for your own questions about how things might change and what you might be able to expect to stay the same or play out differently should you become pregnant a second time.
My main source is – you guessed it – myself.
I’ve been pregnant twice, quite intentionally, during the last handful of years, and I marveled at the subtle things that I noticed weren’t exactly the same.
There are surely many more, but for starters, here are 15 ways pregnancy symptoms can change with the second baby.
15 Quite The Appetite
In my experience, it is easier to give into cravings for things like sugar and high-calorie foods when you find yourself in an especially tired or overly hungry situation.
And I suppose being pregnant with my second baby, while also working full time from home – oh, and also caring for a toddler around the clock – tended to put me in this situation pretty much daily.
It’s not like I stopped being careful at all with what I consumed.
But there was a clear difference in my diet, to be sure, compared to how careful I was when I was pregnant with my first less than two years prior to carrying my second.
With my first, I made sure to get back to eating more vegetables, for example, as soon as my stomach could handle it after a small period of morning sickness.
With my second, salads sort of went out the window.
On top of this, if I decided I wanted some cookies or a candy bar in the middle of the afternoon, I honestly quite often just went for it.
Was it the best choice? Not necessarily, but it felt to me at the time like it wasn’t such a big deal as I had felt it was during my first pregnancy to give in to those cravings.
14 Totally Tired
Have you ever heard of “the fatigue of pregnancy”?
The website AmericanPregnancy.org explains that “Fatigue is a common symptom during pregnancy. Some women may feel exhausted throughout their pregnancy, while some may hardly feel tired at all. Although experience with fatigue tends to vary, most women will feel more tired than usual during their pregnancy. Fatigue during pregnancy is most common during the first trimester. It tends to go away during the second trimester, but will usually return in the third trimester.”
There are a lot of demands being put on the bod during this quite amazing time, and so to me, it all sort of makes sense.
Plus, it sort of works out sometimes, in that an expectant mom may tend to rest more, go to bed earlier, and generally do things that help her to stay well. (That’s what I did!)
The thing is, the second time around, a mother already has a child, of whatever age, to take care of. A good night’s sleep, therefore, is not ever guaranteed, pregnancy symptoms aside.
I was certainly more tired the second time around.
Plus, I couldn’t catch as many naps or rest periods or go to bed as early usually, either, because I had plenty more to do.
13 Somehow Even Sicker
My morning sickness was, I believe, slightly worse with my second baby, but I think this had to do with the fact that I couldn’t rest and just take care of myself quite as easily while also playing that important role of “Mom.”
Sometimes, though, women find themselves having entirely different experiences from the first time around.
Just check out the forums at WhatToExpect.com, and you’ll find that you’re not alone if you are sicker than ever when expecting baby number 2.
On September 12, 2015, one user shared, “This has to be the [worst] it's ever been. I have a 1-year-old and I'm 7w3d with our second. The sickness has been so much worse with this one. Any hope for when it starts to get better? …I had some sort of light sickness till 15-18 weeks last one. I don't care if it goes away completely I just want to be able to eat again. I'm constantly starving but nothing sounds good...”
A fellow mom replied, “I'm pregnant with my second baby as well and I feel worse [than] I ever did with my son! I'm 9 weeks 1 day today and the doctor told me I have eat but I feel nausea all day long… Hang in there hope you feel better.”
And the convo continues on and on. While some women report similarly terrible experiences the second time as the first, having it worse off during second or subsequent pregs was a common thread.
12 Catching ALL The Colds
An article included by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov explores the topic of whether it’s easier for pregnant women to get sick, noting that it’s a complicated topic. “Viral or bacterial pandemics threaten the general population; however, there are special populations, such as children and pregnant women, which may be at a higher risk and more susceptible to or more severely affected by infectious diseases. Pregnant women are considered to be a special population group due to their specific susceptibility to some infectious diseases because of the unique ‘immunological’ condition caused by pregnancy. Therefore, pregnancy presents many challenges for making decisions on how to approach, prevent and treat infectious diseases,” Gil Mor and Ingrid Cardenas state.
My own doctor stressed the importance of avoiding getting sick – mainly because being sick and pregnant sucks.
I found, too, that it was way easier to catch colds the second time around. I already had a toddler – and while this child was a very clean and careful one, it was still a toddler. Plus, less sleep and a bit more stress were probably factors, too.
I actually found out I was pregnant (we had been trying only a very short time) when I woke up coming down with a terrible cold one morning and also felt like I had to barf!
11 Some More Swelling
Swelling during pregnancy is another very common symptom, as you may know if you’ve had a baby before.
AmericanPregnancy.org explains, “During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this additional blood and fluid. Normal swelling, which is also called edema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet. This extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby develops. Extra fluid also helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery. The extra fluids account for approximately 25% of the weight women gain during pregnancy.”
Simple measures such as trying to spend some time with your feet up at the end of the day can really help to make things more comfortable.
The thing is, if you already have a child to take care of throughout the day, especially, it can be much tougher than it was during your first pregnancy to just sit around with your feet up.
I was definitely more aware of swelling with my second baby, to the extent that I had to go for a bigger size of shoes while I was pregnant.
10 Secret’s Out Sooner
I heard a joke once where a pregnant lady says that she started to show with her second / subsequent baby as she was walking out of the bedroom…
“Showing,” or having a visible bump that reveals to the world that you are with child, tends to happen significantly sooner the second time around.
Whereas with my first, I felt like I was waiting and waiting for some outward sign that there was a baby in there (how exciting to have a my very own baby bump for the first time!), with my second, my body seemed to quite quickly reassume that familiar shape. It wasn’t immediate, but it was weeks earlier in the pregnancy than it was with my first baby.
Parents.com notes that showing sooner is one main difference between second pregnancies and first ones. According to the site, “You tend to show about a month sooner. After having a baby, your uterus doesn't shrink all the way down to its previous size, which gives it a head start in growing during the next pregnancy.”
It might be quite fun to have this visible sign so much earlier the second time, and the older brother or sister might enjoy having that physical change to observe as they begin to comprehend the big change coming their way!
9 A Different Bump
I noticed women who had been moms for a long time already, particular the set who were more advanced in years, commenting on how I was “carrying” differently than the last time around.
When people use that term, it often refers to how high or low the baby appears to be in the mom’s abdomen.
Carrying lower the second time around is the norm, and that makes sense.
According to Parents.com, “Your abdominal muscles get stretched so much by the first pregnancy that they're weaker. As a result, they can't support a baby as well as they did before, so the fetus drops lower in your abdomen. The upside to carrying lower is that you'll probably breathe more easily and eat more comfortably than in your first pregnancy. The downside? You may find that the urge to urinate frequently starts earlier and you may have increased pelvic discomfort from the additional pressure on your bladder and pelvic area. You can relieve some of the discomfort with Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic muscles.”
I and others in my family thought my bump appeared quite larger than the last time around as well, which to me makes sense both because the muscles had already been stretched before and because, well, I was having a bigger baby!
8 Best Face Forward
Even the skin changes that you experience may be quite different from one pregnancy to the next. I bet maybe you didn’t even think about something like skin changes being a possibility when you were first trying or pregnant, right? I don’t think I did!
But then I realized that both going off “the pill” and becoming pregnant caused some of those lovely hormonal changes that could result in (much like those “wonder,” or teenage, years) acne.
Nothing I ever experienced was all that bad. I just noticed some mild changes to my skin, with some annoying breakouts here and there.
The difference for me the second time that I was pregnant was that I didn’t really notice these (somewhat annoying) changes. So yay for that!
Both during pregnancy and during breastfeeding, my skin has not seemed to react so drastically to the whole hormone thing this time.
My guess is that hormones change with age, and that you are inevitably a bit older when you are pregnant the second time than you were the first time around.
In any case, it is certainly possible for your skin to react one way with the first baby and quite differently the next time around.
7 Crazier Cramps
Another common (and very potentially very uncomfortable – trust me!) side effect of being pregnant is getting cramps in your legs. It may be just a few memorably painful moments, or they may plague you most evenings toward the end.
AmericanPregnancy.org states that
“It is not uncommon to experience leg cramps during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. Nearly half of all pregnant women suffer from muscle spasms in their legs,
with cramping more frequent during the evening. Leg cramps may be caused by the additional weight gain of pregnancy and changes in your circulation. Pressure from the growing baby may also be placed on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. This pressure or pinching may be the cause of your leg cramps.”
I didn’t get them during my first pregnancy (well, except for during childbirth itself), and I got them bad toward the end of my second. Maybe this was because I gained somewhat more weight, or (most likely) because I was often carrying around the extra weight of a toddler in my arms.
AmericanPregnancy.org says, “Try one or more of the following interventions to help relieve or prevent leg cramps: Exercise regularly, and include stretches that target your calves. Rest with your legs elevated. Wear supportive stockings. Massage your calves and feet. Apply local heat.”
The site also advises, “Contact your health care provider if your leg cramps are severe or persistent. Your health care provider may prescribe additional supplements or medication.”
6 Practicing Contractions
I noticed very few, if any, Braxton-Hicks (or sort of “practice”) contractions the first time I was pregnant. The second time, it was like during the third trimester, I’d half remember the intense sensations occurring most nights once I awoke in the morning.
Parents.com explains it all thusly: “An experienced uterus also has far more "false," or practice, contractions, called Braxton Hicks. Moreover, because a second baby is carried lower and farther away from the spine, he isn't centered over the bowl of the mother's pelvis, so he can't drop into the lower pelvis as easily. This may be why these early practice contractions don't bring on labor as readily as the first time. To tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and real ones, change your position (stand up, say, if you've been sitting), or walk around. Braxton Hicks contractions will often stop, while active contractions will continue throughout these actions.”
They add that, “Although Braxton Hicks contractions are often referred to as false, they do cause some dilation and effacement of the cervix. And because experienced mothers have more Braxton Hicks contractions, the cervix is usually more dilated and effaced when they are admitted to the hospital than in their first pregnancy. This head start helps shorten the length of labor.”
5 Increased Insomnia
It was for sure harder for me to get enough sleep at night during my second pregnancy. I’m not entirely positive why, but my guess would be both that I got sick with minor colds more and that it is quite frankly sort of stressful to be approaching adding another child to my family when I was already caring for one around the clock as well as working full time. Finances and other issues are hard to put out of your mind, sometimes. That was my experience, I think, anyway.
It can already be hard to sleep when pregnant, whether it’s the first time or the fourth. TheBump.com lists issues such as heartburn, snoring, the constant need to pee, taking naps too late in the day, and just not being able to get comfortable (restless leg syndrome may also be involved, apparently) as being potential sleep-stealing factors.
They also note, as I have above, that maybe, “You’re kind freaked out.” They explain, “Thinking about your to-do list, the looming delivery and the new demands of motherhood can keep your mind racing at night. But instead of tossing and turning, get up and take a warm bath or read a book (something light and non-pregnancy-related). Avoid the urge to clear out your TiVo playlist or play online [S]udoku — the light from the screen can make you feel even more awake, so it could be harder to go back to sleep.”
4 Sore More
I think I have this one somewhat figured out based on my own two pregnancies so far. It’s easier to experience increased soreness in various places of your body when you are pregnant the second time, and it all makes sense to me.
You are older. I mean, that’s just logic. Time has passed in your life from the first time that you did this whole pregnancy thing, and sometimes more aches and pains just sort of come with the territory.
For me, a notable factor was that I had more physical demands placed on my body during my second pregnancy, ones which I could not simply choose to take a break from. You can’t exactly just tell your toddler, “You know what? I’m just gonna take it easy today instead of lifting you in and out of your high chair five times a day, picking you up when you need a hug, and generally lifting, bending, and carrying things for you all the livelong day.”
Plus, there is the possibility that you’ve gained a different amount of weight the second time around – or that you never lost all of the weight from the first pregnancy – placing more strain on those joints and muscles.
3 The Subtleties Of Stress
Hormonal changes continue throughout pregnancy. Life changes abound. There is so much change, and so much more change still to be anticipated.
All of this can mean, in my experience, stress. And hey, to a certain extent, that’s life!
We do our best to find healthy and helpful ways to cope with the inevitable anxieties that our various experiences in life present.
On one hand, you know how to, well, be a parent, and you know what labor and birth can be like, because you’ve done it all before. So maybe you will have less stress about the whole thing!
On the other hand, there will be a whole new and different set of demands and responsibilities put on you once you have not just one but two children to care for. Money, living space, cars, childcare, and more can all be big and important factors.
What I am trying to get at is just that the stress you experience may be, in one way or another, different.
According to WebMD.com, “Some stress during pregnancy is normal, just as it is during other times of life. But if stress becomes constant, the effects on you and your baby could be lasting.”
2 Chest Challenges
Breastfeeding and changes to the breasts during pregnancy are something that, in my experience, it’s just really hard to comprehend until you’ve actually experienced it all.
And then, then, it all becomes crystal clear.
Breast soreness may be one of the first clues to a woman that she has a bun in the oven, so to speak.
According to WhatToExect.com, “Breast tenderness is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, usually starting around week 4 to week 7 and lasting through the first trimester, though your breasts will continue to change throughout your pregnancy, culminating with the production of colostrum – the precursor to breast milk and your baby's first food after delivery – that will begin to leak around week 38.”
But why, you ask? The site goes on to say that
“That dazzling hormonal duo — estrogen and progesterone — deserves most of the blame for changes and tenderness.
Other factors include the (good and necessary) fat that's building up in your breasts and increased blood flow to the area. Why all the fuss? Your breasts are getting ready to become milking machines in just a few short months.”
What I noticed was that the fact that my breasts already were “milk machines” made things sorer — for longer — and quite significantly so, during my second pregnancy.
When my toddler naturally dropped that last breastfeeding of the day, it was the breast discomfort that made me feel so ready for it.
1 More Plentiful Pounds
There are a couple different reasons that women may find themselves heavier overall during a second pregnancy.
For starters, it is, of course, possible that mothers never lost all of the weight that they gained the first time that they prepared to bring a new baby into the world.
Consumer.HealthDay.com stated in an online article published on December 9, 2014 that “research that suggests three-quarters of new mothers are heavier a year after giving birth than they were before becoming pregnant” had been carried out.
The website explained that “Analyzing data from nearly 800 low-income women, researchers also found that one-third of those of normal weight before pregnancy became overweight or obese one year after childbirth. Nearly one-quarter of all new mothers had retained more than 20 extra pounds.”
Therefore, gaining even what is considered the normal amount of weight during pregnancy number 2 would, of course, lead to being heavier overall.
While I personally did lose all of the weight that I had gained well before becoming pregnant again, I then gained more weight overall during the second pregnancy. Age, lifestyle changes (like, um, already having a child to take care of), and differences in diet may have been factors.