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How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn’t have believed you. But, it has been hard to keep track. Caring for a toddler while being pregnant is definitely a game changer. Now that I am nearing the end and counting down the days it is a little easier. I’m 35 weeks today, I think. 🙂
It hit me recently that I’m getting close to delivery. That made me panic a bit. Why am I panicing? I’ve done this before. I know what to do. Or do I? What if this one is different? What can I do to make it better? I need to start preparing for labor. Yikes!
If you are reading this, I am sure you are feeling the same way I am.
How will this labor and delivery be different and what do I need to do to prepare?
What gaps were there in my preparation last time and how do I fill them?
How do I know what I don’t know?
What should I be thinking about?
When you are expecting your second child there are many more considerations when the time comes to give birth. You also have enough experience to have an idea of how it will go (or how you want it to go), but every pregnancy and birth is different.
Obviously, this will be different for each person, but keep reading below to see how I worked through this stage of pregnancy and what I learned from my first birth and how I am currently handling preparation for my second son’s delivery.
Step One: Make peace with your last birth.
Think about it. Talk about it. Process it.
For me, this meant researching what happened to me, and finding out that what I experienced was precipitous labor. Just having a name for it was very helpful to me. When I posted my birth story, I didn’t know there was a special term for it and I didn’t know what it would mean for subsequent births.
I have been doing a ton of research to try to figure out what it could mean for my next birth. Mainly, listening to birth stories from other moms who experienced precipitous labor, particularly moms who had multiple children. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find many stories (only one I think) of precipitous labor where the mother was induced like me.
Before my research, I experienced a lot of anxiety around giving birth this time. My biggest fear is not making it to the hospital and having my baby at home or in the car on the way. My other fear was dragging my husband to the hospital over and over for false alarms.
We live 1 hour and 6 minutes from the hospital. Labor with my son lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes (water breaking) or 1 hour and 41 minutes (starting Pitocin) depending on when you start counting. And second labors usually go faster! Not to mention, this time we have a toddler to drop off on the way.
My first step was to share my fears with my midwives and my doctor. After talking through it multiple times with different midwives, I felt a little better about it. I finally made an appointment to talk to the doctor about it. I wanted her to help me make a plan to give my baby the best chance of being born at the hospital. She told me to just wrap my head around driving to the hospital a lot for false alarms. Any time I start having contractions, start driving, and turn around if they stop.
This gave me a little bit of peace about the situation. I talked to my husband about it and he understands. It is not going to be fun driving to the hospital who knows how many times, but we both accept that we will have to do it. It is good to be on the same page.
Next, I started listening to birth story podcasts. I listened to every precipitous labor story I could find, including several car births and unplanned home births. This may cause more anxiety for some people, but it gave me a lot of peace.
Hearing these women tell their stories was empowering for me. They gave me a description of what to expect if it were to happen to me and what I could do to plan for it. While I still hope to make it to the hospital, I think I will be able to handle a car birth if it comes down to it.
Having an unplanned home birth is another story. We live 35 minutes from any hospital and 45 minutes from a hospital with a labor and delivery department. If we lived closer to a hospital, I would probably just plan for a home birth because of my history. My husband is glad we live too far from a hospital for this to be wise.
Thankfully, my husband feels very confident in his ability to handle a homebirth if it were to happen. Knowing that he will remain calm and do what needs to be done is a comfort to me. One birth story I listened to was a woman who gave birth at home and her husband and sister were so flustered she had to take charge and tell them what to do while she was pushing out her baby, including calling 911. I know my husband will be able to keep his head and take care of me and our baby.
Pro Tip: When preparing for my first son’s birth, my husband read (probably skimmed) the book The Birth Partner*, which includes a section on what to do if you give birth in a car or at home. I made sure he read this section and will probably read it again myself before too long. This book was also a great resource when I found out I was going to be induced. It had so much information about what to expect and what the different options were surrounding induction and medical interventions. I read it on the way to the doctor the day I was induced.
We also live across the street from our family doctor (who is a cousin) and used to deliver babies 30 years ago. So, in a pinch, we will call him over.
Moral of this long rambling story: Process your last birth and work through anything you need to work through to be at peace going into your second birth. Fear is the worst thing for childbirth.
Step 2: Apply the Lessons You Learned
What did you learn from your last birth that you want to remember for this one? The biggest thing I learned was that if I don’t like my nurse I can ask for a new one. Who knew? I am planning to request the nurse that saved the day with my last birth and pray she is there and available when the time comes.
Another takeaway is that delayed cord clamping doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. I am going to be more clear in my birth plan that I want to wait longer than the 30-60 seconds the hospital calls delayed cord clamping.
On a lighter note, my husband learned that he needs a few more things in his hospital bag. He barely packed anything last time and while he still doesn’t have much packed this time, he did make a few additions I’ll talk about in the packing the hospital bag section below.
So, think through what it is for you that you learned and want to do differently this time around and make a plan.
Step 3: Brush up on your Childbirth education.
Were you prepared for your last labor? Were you able to cope through contractions? Were you scared? Was your partner prepared and supported through labor and delivery? If not, take the time to research the areas you need to improve.
Take another birth class, or if you didn’t the first time, take a birth class. Some options are the Evidence Based Birth Childbirth class or the Mama Natural Childbirth Class, both of which are online if you happen to be giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic like me or if its nearly impossible to get away for an inperson class.
Step 4: Listen to Birth Stories
I have been binge listening to birth story podcasts lately and it has been so much fun! Immersing myself in the birth world again has been rewarding. Hearing other women’s stories has encouraged me and taught me a lot. It is a lot easier to listen to a podcast than to read a book these days. I have also been listening to the Evidence Based Birth Podcast to brush up on any new research out there.
The birth story podcasts I have been listening to are The Birth Hour, Birthful, Evidence Based Birth, Australian Birth Stories, and Kiwi Birth Tales. I searched the Podcasts App for “precipitous labor” and listened to any episodes related. That is how I found all of these podcasts. I have since listened to many other birth stories on these podcasts, but that is where I started.
Watch Call the Midwife on Netflix. I find it oddly soothing and empowering when preparing for birth. It may not have the same effect on everyone, but it made me much less fearful when I starting freaking out during my first pregnancy. Seeing birth normalized and women supported is beautiful. I started the series over recently in preparation for this baby’s birth. I am not freaking out this time, but it is still empowering.
Step 5: Reevaluate the Birth Plan
Say what? Second-time moms know having a birth plan is a joke. I know where you are coming from and I agree. However, there is value in making a birth plan. Maybe it needs a better name? Birth Considerations?
The value lies in thinking through different things that could happen during your birth and how you would like them handled, if possible. An extreme example would be if you needed an emergency c-section. Did you know there are options?
Also, having a birth plan lets your providers know where you stand on certain issues. Like I mentioned before, we asked for delayed cord clamping. Now we know we need to be more specific in our birth plan and define what we mean by “delayed”.
I am all for a minimalist birth plan. Even if you just jot down a couple of things that are most important to you. The rest can just be in your and your husband’s head. Just make sure you’ve educated yourselves on what options you might be presented with and know where you stand. During labor is not the time to try to discuss some of these issues. If the discussions have been had beforehand, your husband will be better equipped to advocate for you and your baby in the moment.
Step 6: Reevaluate the Hospital Bag
I’d be willing to bet there were a few things you wish you had at the hospital or birth center at your first birth and I am positive there were many many things that never came out of your bag at all! I was amazed at how much the hospital provided and how little of my own things I needed. I literally barely opened my bag.
My toiletries bag, some clothes, phone charger, and baby’s coming home outfit were about all I used at the hospital and we were there Monday – Thursday. I am planning to keep track of everything I use this time and write a post for you all! Stay tuned.
I did have a two very useful items in my toiletries bag in addition to the usual items.
This stuff was wonderful in the hospital those first few days after birth. I kept it in the mini-fridge in our room and it was so soothing after trips to the bathroom. I talk more about it and postpartum recovery in this post.
2. Coconut oil
I used coconut oil for nipple cream after nursing (it doesn’t stain your clothes like lanolin) and on the flanges for pumping (to help my milk come in since my son was born at 36 weeks).
It was also great to apply to baby’s bum after birth and every diaper change until the first poo. It keeps the meconium from sticking and makes that first dirty diaper change a little easier.
Things we didn’t pack last time, but are packing this time:
- “Real Clothes” for going home.
We live about an hour from our hospital and our peditrician. The last thing we wanted to do was to turn around the next day and go to the pediatrician, so we made an appointment for the day we were released from the hospital and went on our way home. This was great. Except I packed yoga pants for the way home and I’m not a yoga pants in public kind of person. So, I had to wear what I wore to the hospital. We plan to do the same thing this time, so I will definitely pack real clothes to go home.
2. Clothes for visitors
We didn’t have a ton of visitors (other than my mom and sisters), but when we did, I was not prepared with clothes that made me feel comfortable and presentable. This time I am packing my nice robe, even though we won’t be having any visitors (thanks to COVID-19).
3. A Blanket and Pillow for my Husband
My poor husband froze every night in the hospital. and all he had was a sheet. We probably could have asked for a blanket and pillow, but my husband would rather suffer than ask. So, this time, the blanket and pillow are all packed.
I also packed snacks and drinks for my husband, since we won’t have visitors. Last time, my mom and sisters brought us meals and snacks every day and it was wonderful. There is this great ice cream place within walking distance of the hospital that has this amazing ginger ice cream. My sisters brought some to me after having my son and it was the best thing ever. I was already planning for that to be a post-birth treat again and I am super bummed that won’t be possible.
Obviously, your experience will be different. The key is to think it through your last birth and make adjustments as needed.
Step 7: Talk it Out
Have a conversation with your spouse about what went well during your hospital stay and what, if anything, needs some work. I already told you the adjustments we made to the hospital bag, so now I am going to brag on my husband.
He was completely amazing after birth. He went into “Captain mode” and took charge of everything. All I had to do was focus on bonding with my baby and recovering. He kept track of feedings and told me when it was time to feed again, he managed the breast pump and cleaned all the parts after each use, and kept me on track. It was wonderful. When we had to briefly supplement with formula for blood sugar he handled the bottle feedings while I pumped. He did skin to skin while I ate or whatever else. He even helped me use the bathroom for the first couple of times. I cannot say enough good things about how well he took care of both of us in the hospital.
This was especially important because I had a really strong reaction to the oxytocin released during breastfeeding for the first few days. The room would spin and make me really dizzy. I was exhausted and in no condition to keep track of feeding and pumping schedules for a preemie. Thankfully, my husband was on top of it all.
I told my husband I hoped he would do the same this time too. I know not all moms would want or need this from their husbands, but it was exactly what I needed. Whatever it is you need from your husband, make sure to have the conversation ahead of time and set expectations/make requests.
On the flip side, be sure to ask your husband if there is anything he thinks should go differently or anything he thought worked well. He is in this too and should be considered. I think we moms can get caught up in our roles in the birth process and forget that our men are right there with us playing a critical role as well. They desrve some appreciation and consideration too. They also have a different perspective from you and may think of something that you haven’t.
Step 8: Make a Plan for Your First Child
This is a big consideration that was not a factor first go-round. Who is going to watch your first child while you’re in the hospital having your second? How will you get your child to them or how will they get to your child?
We plan to drop my son at my husband’s aunt and uncle’s on our way to the hospital (it’s on our way) and my mother will pick him up there. It is very rare that someone is not home and this saves us the 25 minutes that it will take my mom to get here, which as you read above could mean the difference in having my son at the hospital or on the side of the road.
Likely, your labors last longer than mine and you will have a reasonable amount of time to get your child settled, but you still need to have a plan in place.
Pro Tip: A mom friend of mine said that when she brought her 4th child home, her mother offered to bring her other children for a visit and then take them back to her house for a few more days. At the time, she wanted them home and all together. She said looking back she wished she had taken her mom up on it. So, maybe think about this as an option if you feel like you will need a few days at home to get in the swing of things with the newborn before adding in the older children.
Step 9: Consider How You Will Introduce Your Children
I had a vision of my mom bringing my son to visit in the hospital to meet his little brother. I have a special gift* (the larger version of the one I bought for the baby) for my son from the baby that I was going to give him at the hospital. I wanted a picture of our new family of four on the hospital bed (the boys with their matching rhinos). I can see the picture in my head.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this will not become reality. Now, I am trying to create a new mental image of how this meeting will look. Honestly, I am drawing a blank. Anyone have any suggestions for me?? Leave me a comment!
I know that it will all be fine and however it happens will be fine. My son isn’t even two, so he won’t remember. I am not looking for some perfectly choreographed moment, but a nice mental image to replace the one that’s there would be niee. Missing out on this moment is going to be the hardest thing for me dealing with COVID-19 Restrictions. It would be really nice to replae that mental image with one equally as beautiful before the birth, but I haven’t been able to come up with one so far.
All that to say, give it some thought. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic and serious moment, but it is a big deal and worth at least thinking through.
Step 10: Soak Up the Last Weeks with Your First Born
Adding to your family is an exciting time, but it can also be a little sad to think about having to divide your attention between two children. I am taking advantage of every moment to love on my little boy. Lots of hugs and kisses, playing outside, playing in the floor (which is getting harder and harder), reading books, and savoring bed times. It is so hard to keep up our good bedtime habits, because I just want to snuggle him and savor every moment.
I see a lot of moms that are worried about having enough love to go around when they have subsequesnt children. It is hard to imagine how I will love another child as much as I love my first, but I know I will. I think your heart just doubles in size and grows to encompass the new little life. I remember the immediate flood of pure love the second they placed my son on my chest. At the time, my husband said “well, are you ready for your heart to live outside you’re body from now on?” How true is that?
Snuggle your first child every chance you get and savor every moment!
Well this has been quit the all emcompassing guide. I hope it helps you as you prepare for your big day!
I will try to do a follow up on the other side of delivery and let you know how this preparation worked for me.
You’ve got this, mama!
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