Giving Birth for the Second Time: Addressing Fears, Adjusting Preferences

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If you’re pregnant (or planning to be) for the second time, you may be approaching your birth with a sense of excitement and nerves. Your

previous birth experience(s) influence the way you feel about future births. Women who felt supported and strong during their first birth will likely approach their next birth with confidence, while moms who had unexpected outcomes or interventions, or experienced birth trauma will feel nervous, insecure, and sometimes very fearful of going through birth again.

No matter which camp you’re in — or if you’re somewhere in between — it can help to approach your next birth with some questions to guide the choices and preparations you make for your second birth.

What did you like about your last birth? Starting with the positive always helps, and the answers to this question allow you to start at the simplest point — knowing what you would like to do again, if possible (choose the same care provider, hire a doula, labor at home as long as possible, etc.).

What do you wish was different about your last birth? Understand that there will be some things you have the power to change and others you cannot. If you had a care provider who treated you poorly or pressured you into making choices against your preferences, then yes, you can change your care provider! But other unexpected events like preterm labor, preeclampsia, or a long labor most likely could not have been changed (but it doesn’t mean they’ll happen again!). For the latter, think about how that event is making you feel about your upcoming birth. If you fear it will happen again, consider ways in which you can alleviate some of your fear, like talking to your care provider, hiring a doula for more emotional support, seeking counseling (perhaps with your partner), taking a childbirth class, or reading about or talking to other women with a similar experience who have gone on to have more children. For fears that feel overwhelming or “paralyzing,” it’s best to speak with a mental health professional like a therapist, counselor, or psychologist.

What excites you about your upcoming birth? Again, starting with the positive helps bring those feelings front and center — even if they are few and far between. In the face of fear and uncertainty, it can help to remember the ultimate reason you’re going through the experience.
What are your concerns/fears about your upcoming birth? Maybe it will be that you will tear again. Maybe it is that you will not be able to have the VBAC that you want. Or perhaps you’re worried about how you will manage more than one child. Whatever your concerns, it’s important to acknowledge and address them. The goal is not to completely erase your fears, but to figure out how to manage them. It might be that you take a prenatal yoga class to help you to find inner peace and calm, hire a postpartum doula to increase your confidence and support in the early days after birth, or join your local ICAN to find the best resources on VBAC.

How did you prepare for your second birth differently than your first? What helped you address your fears or concerns?

2 Comments

Second birth was NOT the same as the first!

July 9, 2014 09:44 AM by Mary Rincon

The fact that my second pregnancy was so different from my first should have been a big clue that my second delivery would be different too - but I was still surprised that almost every step along the way (of labor & delivery) was different.  


I had spent some time reflecting on the positives and negatives of my first delivery and used that feedback to help guide me in the decision making the second time around (didn't wait so long to get the epidural, labored at home much longer).  I also found that I had a lot more confidence the second time, even amid the surprises and differences.

Huge expectations for the second...

July 24, 2014 11:02 PM by Luz Ma Dollero

My first experience was traumatic... For the second, I wanted:



  • To feel an be respected an secure

  • To be able to trust my doctor 

  • Empowerment

  • To decide

  • To be "the actress", not a passive subject

  • No induction, no epidural, no oxytocine, no kristeller, no episiotom....

  • To be confident

  • To "enjoy"


I think it's not that much, but the basic expectations anyone should have


I needed to be treated as a person....



thanks God, everything was different. It was a great an empowering experience and Lamaze had a lot to do in it...


 

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