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Second pregnancy

This article discusses what to expect from your second pregnancy, symptoms you may encounter and the effect having another baby can have on your family.

It’s exciting to discover you're expecting again. But you may have some mixed feelings. Whether it is your second pregnancy, or third or fourth, each time will feel different. This article covers second pregnancy differences; coping with older children; feelings about adding to your family; symptoms; and offers some parents' experiences.

 You may find you have different symptoms after becoming pregnant again, and additional worries about coping with two or more children are also common.

Second pregnancy differences

During a second pregnancy you already know what to expect in terms of maternity and postnatal care, and you may have a better idea about how to get what you need. Your previous experiences will almost certainly affect the choices you make this time around.

You may sense that there is less excitement about the announcement of a second pregnancy. On the other hand you are more likely to have friends around you who know what being pregnant is all about: a supportive network of other parents can be enormously helpful when you're coping with the physical demands of pregnancy as well as the immediate needs of an older child.

Finding the opportunity to rest and eat well during pregnancy can be trickier this time around but it is good practice for when your baby arrives.

If you had any difficulties first time around you may find yourself worrying when you discover you are pregnant again. If this sounds like you, make sure that you talk with health professionals and friends and get the support and help you need. NCT refresher antenatal classes, if they are available in your area, are also useful.

Coping with older children during your second pregnancy 

It's important to get as much rest as you can and to take care of yourself during a second pregnancy. This may seem harder with an older child around so don't feel bad about using the television or films to keep other children occupied if you need a bit of peace, for instance.

Don’t worry if you feel you aren’t giving your unborn child enough attention. This experience is common and doesn’t mean you will be less attached to them.

Thinking about more than one child

Many women find they spend far less time thinking about a second pregnancy than the previous one because they are already busy looking after their first child. They may start to wonder what sort of impact the new baby will have and whether their eldest child will be jealous. Wondering if you can you do justice to two (or more) children and love them equally is common.

The honest answer is that of course you won’t love each of your children in the same way; you will love each of them differently because of the special individuals that they are. Sometimes you may feel that you love one of them more, but most parents find that their love for each child is immense.

Often, rather than not loving the new baby, mothers find that for a time after the birth they feel a little distance from their eldest child. Being aware that this may happen, and that it is a temporary experience, can help mothers plan to make sure that other grown-ups, especially partners, but also extended family members and friends, are around to help with the first-born and offer support.

Second pregnancy symptoms

Second pregnancies nearly always feel different from the first. You will probably:

  • get bigger more quickly,
  • feel the baby move sooner and
  • have more Braxton Hicks contractions in the third trimester.

If you feel anxious due to experiences during your first pregnancy or birth, speak to health professionals and friends for extra support and help.  

Parents’ experiences of pregnancy second time around

"With our first baby I worried about things like nappy-changing and bath times, as well as general stuff about how to be a good dad. What I found second time though, was that you quickly fall into the routine, and it’s nothing to worry about." — Peter, Cambridge

"I got pregnant with my second daughter when my first was not yet a year old. Struggling with a toddler and a house move while pregnant wasn’t fun and I didn’t really have time to think about the new baby. In the days after the birth I remember missing time with my toddler." — Ann, London

"My second pregnancy was so much more enjoyable - I knew what to expect and was much more relaxed about things. It was so wonderful to be able to share the experience with my first child, whose excitement about a new baby brother or sister growing inside my tummy was wonderful. I was worried about having enough love and attention for the second child, but realised immediately after she was born that there is no limit to the love you have to give." — Sallie, London

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of the antenatal experience, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. NCT also provide Refresher antenatal courses for those parents who have already had at least one baby. They offer a chance to reflect and build on past birth experiences and prepare yourself for looking after your new baby.