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Q&A: Sickness in Second Pregnancy

Q. I was sick for almost my entire pregnancy three years ago, and labor was extremely painful. Will this pregnancy be like my first?

A. Not likely. It's very rare for any second pregnancy or birth to be a replay of the first. You may have been sick for your entire first pregnancy, yet find that you have very little nausea now. On the other hand, you may have been tired for just the first 8 weeks of that first pregnancy, but now -- with a preschooler in tow, still begging to be carried -- you may feel more exhausted for a much longer time.

Probably the most significant difference most women report between first and subsequent pregnancies is the ability to feel their babies moving much earlier. A first-time mom might notice her baby's fetal activity around 20 weeks; more experienced moms will feel those first butterfly movements as early as 16 weeks. That's not because second or third babies are stronger but because these moms now can distinguish between a baby's distinct motion and a gas bubble.

Your latest pregnancy is also likely to show sooner because your abdominal muscles may already be stretched. The good thing about this baby's lowered position is that you may not suffer the same heartburn you did during your last pregnancy; the downside is that you may find yourself making even more frequent trips to the bathroom this time around.

Your back may hurt more with this pregnancy if you can't get enough rest or if other children need to be carried or picked up. Teach older children to do more for themselves; for instance, your toddler can probably climb into her own car seat, and a preschooler can use a footstool to reach the sink. If an older child wants to sit on your lap, sit down first and let her climb up. You can also wear a maternity abdominal support garment to diminish backaches. As for childbirth, well, there's probably nothing more unpredictable in nature than how a baby decides to make his appearance. Subsequent labors and births are generally easier and faster than the first because your body already knows what to do and your cervix is less rigid; the cervix will dilate and thin out faster when it's time for your baby to arrive.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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