What’s labour like the SECOND time around?
Pregnant with your second? I asked one of my clients the questions I get asked most often by second time moms preparing for birth. Read on to find out what she says.
Q: Aren’t second babies faster? Why would I need a doula?
A: The active labour and pushing stages for my second were faster but I can tell you that labour is intense no matter the length of time! I had a fantastic support team including midwives, my husband, and Pamela. I still needed support to get through the contractions and pushing. Pamela was there to keep me grounded, keep me breathing, and suggest different positions and coping methods. She was always the first (other than me!) to see the next contraction coming and would return everyone’s focus to helping me get through it. Loved that!
Q: I’ve been pregnant before, won’t I know what to expect for this pregnancy too?
A: My first pregnancy was smooth sailing, no complications, I felt strong and healthy, expected the second one to go just the same! This time I was hit with a gestational diabetes diagnosis. This was not in my plan. It was right before Christmas. I had to get to extra clinic appointments, start taking blood sugar readings, completely overhaul my diet, and weigh my options if I couldn’t control it on my own. It was so stressful, having my doula to turn to was invaluable. She was there to point me to resources on managing the condition, talk me through making a plan if I had to change care providers, and (most importantly to me) was there to listen and let me vent out my anger and frustration that this was happening to me.
Every pregnancy is different, even without the GD diagnosis, pregnancy number two is much harder when you already have a baby to take care of! Having a great support system is so important.
Q: I’ve already been through labour once – I know what to do. Right?
A: I can almost guarantee that your second labour will be nothing like your first, that would be too easy! After my waters broke on their own, my contractions never got into a regular pattern. After 24 hours we decided that oxytocin/Pitocin would be needed for labour to progress. This was not in my intervention-free plan! How could I labour freely while hooked up to monitors and a drip?! That’s not how I did it the first time! Pamela was there to tell me “You got this! You’re going to rock this!”. When things don’t go to plan and panic sets in, having your doula and support team there to help you regroup will help you have a positive birth experience, even if it’s not what you envisioned.
Q: We had a doula with our first and now my husband can do what she did for the second!
A: Pamela has always been a great support to my husband throughout the pregnancy, labour, and post partum. He’s always the first to say “Did you ask Pamela?” or “You should call Pamela” whenever he felt like I needed extra support. Your doula can offer you a different perspective along with resources when you have questions or concerns. Support from a doula goes beyond the physical support during labour. For us, Pamela was part of our team, supporting both of us in becoming both first and second time parents. A great example was shortly after the birth my husband was able to hold our daughter, doing skin to skin while Pamela got me some lunch!
He would have been the one taking care of that instead of having those first moments with our new baby if we didn’t have Pamela there.
Q: I know how to breastfeed- I did it the first time!
A: And here I was thrown for another loop with baby number two! My first latched perfectly, only needed a few tips to get us well established with breastfeeding. At the hospital things seemed to be going well with breastfeeding my second but after a couple days at home we started having issues. I had blisters, she wasn’t latching properly, I was frustrated, baby was frustrated. There were many tears! Pamela was there to vent to and help us fix the latching issues. Her suggestions turned things around for us, it was comforting to know that she also has resources and connections to refer to if we had needed more help.
Q: What about those who’s first birth experience wasn’t what they hoped for? How can a doula change that?
A: I had a pretty positive first birth experience (had doula support with my first as well!). We talked through my first experience, what worked and what I might want to go differently the second time. When your support team knows your birth wishes they can help you to make decisions that best align with your plan. My second experience was further from my ideal than my first but with Pamela’s support I was still able to find ways to have bits and pieces of my plan. Most importantly it was still a positive experience. It is also nice to have a supportive, unbiased ear to be able to talk to post partum about anything that you felt wasn’t to plan or was negative about the birth.