Every pregnancy is different, but there is one challenge you can count on if you're having your second baby: You'll be caring for a small child while you cope with your own physical changes and needs.
Q: Last time, I threw up every day for three months, will I go through that again? And what will I say to my child?
A: If you're one of the roughly 70 percent of women who had morning sickness the first time, you'll probably have it again, says James Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., Parents advisor and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University School of Medicine. Your big challenge will be putting on a good act for your kid, but as a mom you're probably already a pro at faking good cheer, and it might even make you feel a little better.
Q: During my first pregnancy I was totally obsessed with nutrition. Now I barely have time for my toddler's leftover sandwich crusts. Can I get by?
A: No! Eating for your growing baby is something you have to be even more conscious of because your body's store of nutrients may be depleted, especially if you're pregnant less than a year after your first delivery. To make up for it, Parents advisor and nutritionist Connie Diekman, R.D., recommends following these guidelines: Eat plenty of protein, especially red meat for much-needed zinc; get at least three servings of dairy for calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D; and eat lots of whole grains and fruit for energy. You already know you need to take prenatal vitamins, but it's probably harder to remember to do it. So buy a pillbox with the dates marked on it, it might make you feel like a little old lady, but at least you'll remember!
Q: Will I show or feel the baby move any sooner?
A: This time you might feel the baby as early as 14 weeks, says Ann Hofstadter, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist in Los Angeles. That's because you'll recognize his flutters sooner, not because of anything the baby is doing differently.
Chances are you'll also show earlier too. Your formerly taut muscles have been stretched once before, so that telltale bump may pop sooner than you expect. You might end up having to tell people earlier (your boss, for example), so at least prepare mentally for breaking the news in your first trimester.
Q: Am I going to gain more weight?
A: There's no direct relationship between a second pregnancy and putting on the pounds. Try to get as close as possible to your pre-pregnancy weight before you conceive, adding pounds on top of leftover baby weight can be the start of a problem. "Moms of young children are often too exhausted to exercise," says Dr. Hofstadter. "But even walking for ten minutes a day is better than nothing."
Q: Is lifting my heavy toddler okay?
A: In uncomplicated pregnancies it's fine to pick up your child, says Dr. Hofstadter. Watch out though: Your center of gravity shifts in pregnancy, so be extra-alert about maintaining your balance to avoid falling. If you have any complications, a history of preterm labor, or if you're carrying multiples, you should talk to your doctor.
Q: Will my labor be easier?
A: If you've already had a vaginal birth, some stretching will have occurred. So if you don't have any other complications, your delivery should be quicker and easier, says Dr. Grifo. If you had a C-section the first time, you'll most likely have one again, but this time, you'll know what to expect.
Q: I'm still breastfeeding. Can I continue?
A: Nursing doesn't reduce the quality of the milk, but as your placenta grows, production drops and the milk may taste more salty. Because of this, many babies wean on their own while Mom is pregnant, says Jane Morton, M.D., director of breastfeeding medicine at Stanford University.
Q: Will I love my second child as much as my first?
A: This is a natural concern that most second-time moms share (even if they'd never admit it). Don't worry. Dr. Grifo says this is more about feeling overwhelmed than it is about your ability to love. "Each child is unique and needs different types of affection," Dr. Grifo says. "You will find them both adorable in their own way."