Q: Will my second labor be anything like my first labor?
Women who have had a long or traumatic first labor may be concerned that their second labor will follow the same pattern. The good news is that many times it does not. Usually, second labors have a shorter prodromal (or early labor) phase and a faster active labor phase as well. Pushing is often a shorter duration, too. Overall, many women labor for roughly half the time in their second labor as they did in their first.
Some women have a pelvis that encourages a baby’s head to enter a certain way. If this is the case, then a woman may have another labor with persistent back pain and a baby who is born “sunny side up.” There are many positions and exercises that can be done prior to labor and during labor to help rotate a baby, but sometimes this is simply his or her favored position. Overall, a second labor is still painful, but can be a surprising and satisfying experience.
—Jasmin Whalen-Vu, CNM
Jasmin Whalen-Vu is a certified nurse midwife with a master of science in nursing from Oregon Health & Science University.