Differences Between Labor With Your First & Second Baby

mom in labor

So, you made it through your first pregnancy and delivered your first baby! It likely wasn't exactly as you expected it would be, which is totally normal. Pregnancy and childbirth are wildly unpredictable, especially the first time around! But now you're pregnant with your second, and feeling a bit more sure of yourself. You're more confident, less stressed out, and more relaxed as you head into your final trimester. By now, you've probably heard from other people you know who have more than one child that the second time around typically unfolds a bit differently.

With your first, you probably waited and waited to go into labor, and only to have your labor go on for hours. But will it be the same with your second baby? Or is what you've heard true - will the second baby come much faster?

Is labor shorter for your second pregnancy?

The short answer? Yes! The second time around, your labor and delivery will likely be much shorter than it was with your first. Whereas with your first baby, you waited anxiously to go into labor and then spent hours slowly progressing, things move much faster with subsequent babies. On average, labor with first babies takes approximately 18 hours (roughly 8 of those spent in active labor).

So nearly a full day between the time you officially go into labor and the time your baby finally arrives. With second babies, the average labor takes about 8 hours (5 of those active). So theoretically, you can pop that second baby out in less time than it took you to labor with your first!

Pregnant woman starting to feel pain and contractions while her worried husband driving a car. She is ready to give birth in a car."n
Credit: iStock

What else is different about your second pregnancy?

With your first baby, you had the gift of time on your side. First pregnancies often go to full term and many go over term, so you have all those precious final days to get ready. You probably won't have that with your subsequent pregnancies. Not only will your labor be shorter, you could very well go into labor much earlier!

The average first time mom's labor kicks in right around 41 weeks and 3 days. Second time moms? Labor starts on average a full week earlier. Your body responds a bit faster to the hormones that trigger labor the second time around, so it gets things going much sooner.

Pushing will probably be a lot easier, too.

Contractions for painful, sure. But pushing is where the real work comes in during delivery. First time moms push for between 20 minutes and 3 hours, on average. But second time moms are experts at this point - plus, their ligaments and muscles in the pelvis and vagina are already conditioned for pushing a baby out.

So lots of second times moms are done pushing within an hour, and often much sooner. In addition to your body being better prepared, you also know how to effectively push this time around, and knowing how to push is half the battle.

READ NEXT: 20 Things That Can Decide What A Woman’s Labor Will Be Like

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