I was convinced that my second child would be a girl. I had morning sickness all day long -- compared to my first pregnancy with my son, when I experienced little more than a craving for pineapple. In low moments, I thought of all the adorable tiny dresses I might be able to buy. When we learned we'd be having another boy, I was shocked.
"Your second pregnancy may be completely different from your first," says Shelly Holmstrom, M. D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and a spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In my case, nausea was related to hormone levels that can vary between pregnancies. However, that's not all the changes. If you're expecting number two, this is what you need to know.
1. An earlier reveal I was just eight weeks into my second pregnancy when I could no longer button my pants. That's because once your abdominal muscles and skin expand during pregnancy, they're never quite as taut again (Nothing ever is, is it?). "You'll look bigger sooner because your rectus abdominis muscle (what you refer to as the 'six-pack') has already been stretched out during your first pregnancy," says Dr. Holstrom. Don't feel bad about having to break out all of your old maternity clothes sooner.
Something else you'll notice earlier: your baby's kicks. Moms who have been there may feel the baby kick as early as 16 weeks -- two weeks earlier than first-timers -- because they're already able to recognize it.
2. Unpleasant symptoms Your abdominal muscles can do more than just make it hard to hide your big news. Back pain -- which can develop as your center of gravity shifts to accommodate your growing belly -- can occur earlier the second time around. "If your abdominal muscles are a lot weaker in your second pregnancy, you may have back pain earlier," says Dr. Holstrom.
To prevent and ease back pain, wear low-heeled, but not flat, shoes with good arch support, and sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees for support. If you must pick up something -- such as your toddler -- lift by bending your knees and squatting down, rather than bending over at the waist. With your doctor's approval, pregnancy-safe core-strengthening exercises can help as well.
Unfortunately, if you experienced varicose veins or hemorrhoids in your first pregnancy, they may be more severe this time and will likely show up sooner, too. "Since these veins were stressed in your first pregnancy, they're more vulnerable the second time," explains Dr. Holstrom. The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to avoid constipation. Drink plenty of water, eat a high-fiber diet rich in fruits and vegetables, avoid sitting or standing for long periods without a break, and don't delay going to the bathroom when you need to pee. To ward off varicose veins, exercise regularly, watch your weight gain, elevate your legs when possible, and don't cross your legs or ankles while sitting. You can also ask your doctor whether elastic support stockings (available at medical-supply stores) might help.
3. Even more fatigue Remember those lovely Saturday afternoon naps you took during your pregnancy after you and your partner made an energy-sapping trip to the movies? Now think about your toddler or preschooler's 6 a.m. need for breakfast or 3 a.m. playtime in your bed. It's no wonder you're exhausted. "Give yourself more time to rest by delegating what you can to your partner (or household help) -- whether it's washing the dishes or grocery shopping," says OB-gyn Isabel Blumberg, M.D. "You'll have a lot less time once the baby comes, so try to shift these responsibilities now."
Also, have someone else start giving your older child a bath or taking her to preschool, so it's less of a transition for her when the baby arrives.
4. Different concerns "With my first pregnancy, I knew how pregnant I was down to the day," says Amy Morrison, a blogger and a mom of two. "The second time, I just based it on how frequently people said, 'You're sure going to have your hands full!'" Even if you do keep tabs on exactly how far along you are, what you worry about will likely be different. "I didn't have as much time to focus on being pregnant the second time," says Tracy Vozar. "My husband and I were thinking more about all the changes that would happen after the new baby arrived." For example, you'll probably be thinking more about how to prepare your child to be a big sibling.
5. A speedier labor and delivery Thanks to your already stretched-out uterine muscles, you may experience more Braxton Hicks contractions leading up to delivery -- and your post-birth contractions (the ones that help stop bleeding and shrink your uterus back to its normal size) may last longer. That's because your "uterine muscle tone" decreases with each subsequent pregnancy. Here's the good news: You'll move through the stages of labor and delivery much more quickly. You can expect speedier labor and faster delivery, although it's hard to say exactly how muchsince it varies with every pregnancy. "Labor is almost always easier in second deliveries," says Dr. Blumberg. "It's too bad everyone can't deliver her second baby first!"