As a labour and delivery Registered Nurse, I can tell you that in general, there is a big difference between labour for a first time mama and a second-time mama. Pregnancy wise, most women will show sooner than a first-time pregnancy and each pregnancy can be a different experience. If you were nauseous a lot of your first, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be again. However, if you had high blood pressure during your first pregnancy you would be more at risk for developing high blood pressure on your second. When it doubt, have a discussion with the healthcare provider that is caring for you and your baby.
From a labour standpoint, most second-time mamas labour much more quickly and push for a much shorter amount of time than first-time mamas. Think of it as the first baby “paving the way” for the second baby! However, a woman’s childbirth expectations play an important role in determining a woman’s response to her experience. Positive expectations may result in positive childbirth which is experienced and vice versa.
First-time mamas, having knowledge from prenatal classes that promotes positive and realistic expectations can help immensely. Many women perceive childbirth pain as challenging, however, they acknowledge the need for some level of pain to birth their child, it allows them to embrace the pain subsequently enhancing their coping ability (Gucht, N. V. D., & Lewis, K.,2015). Women׳s experience of coping with pain during childbirth is complex and multifaceted. Many women feel the need for effective support throughout childbirth, therefore valuing supportive care from their health professionals. Feeling safe through the concept of continuous support is a key element of care to enhance the coping ability and avoid feelings of loneliness and fear. A positive outlook and acceptance of pain demonstrate the beneficial implications for coping ability (Gucht, N. V. D., & Lewis, K.,2015) . Accepting your labour and accepting whatever you need for your labour, along with having the right support persons will be beneficial. Choose support persons who will be relaxed and focused on your needs.
For second time mamas, their first experience can affect how they feel and perceive going into their second. We know that positive expectations correlate frequently with positive experiences, so what can we do? One of the most important psychological factors influencing labor pain is realistic and unrealistic expectations of the mother regarding the labour pain and the sense of losing control during pain intensity (Pirdil, M., & Pirdel, L., 2016).
In order to develop positive and realistic expectations of the actual childbirth experience, exploring women’s expectations and ideas for childbirth are important. I see a big difference in my practice with women who come into the hospital after completing prenatal classes, have tried to remain active during their pregnancy and are open to relaxation techniques. However every mama and every pregnancy is different, so your care should be personalized for you. So discuss your fears and concerns, ask questions and get involved in your own care.
Whether you are a first time or second-time mama, The Mama Coach is a no judgement, evidenced-based and empathetic support. Whether you wish to arm yourself with tools you may need to cope or have the support you need the second time around after a negative experience. The Mama Coach is here for you, find a mama coach closest to you!
Gucht, N. V. D., & Lewis, K. (2015). Women׳s experiences of coping with pain during childbirth: A critical review of qualitative research. Midwifery, 31(3), 349–358. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2014.12.005
Pirdil, M., & Pirdel, L. (2016). A comparison of women’s expectations of labour and birth with the experiences in primiparas and multiparas with normal vaginal delivery. Journal of Kathmandu Medical College, 4(1), 16–25. doi: 10.3126/jkmc.v4i1.15024