Labor and Delivery · Pregnancy

Is Labor Easier with Second Baby? (37 Moms Share Their Labor Stories)

Labor is one of the most anticipated events during pregnancy. So, it is no surprise that two common questions during second pregnancies are, “is labor easier with second baby?” and “what are the first labor vs second labor differences?”.

Today we are talking all about second labor birthing stories as 37 moms share their experiences between their first and second labor.

But first, let’s address some common second labor questions…

Disclaimer: As a nurse, I will address the following questions from a medical standpoint. But, as a mom, it’s important to note that labor and delivery circumstances differ from women to women. This article is for informational purposes only, as it is based on personal experiences and opinions. If you have any questions or concerns about your second labor and the possible outcomes, please contact your healthcare provider. 

Is your second labor always quicker?

I am pretty sure you have heard others say that labor happens faster the second time around.

Experts say that the average labor time for second babies could be as little as half the time as your first labor was.

Although not entirely true for some moms, most second time labors will happen faster because of previous ligament and muscle stretching.

Call it “muscle memory” if you will. Your body just “knows” what to do.

Will second baby come early?

This is also a common question amongst moms pregnant for the second time. It is also a common belief (and misconception) that second babies will arrive earlier than the first.

So, will second babies come early? The answer is, not necessarily.

Although second labors tend to happen faster, it doesn’t necessarily mean that babies will come sooner.

That is unless of course, there are pre-existing factors that might predispose an earlier delivery with second baby.

As per WebMD, some predisposing factors for earlier (or preterm) labor might include (but not limited to):

  • previous history or family history of preterm labor
  • medical condition (e.g. pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes)
  • smoking, drugs, or alcohol use
  • overweight or underweight
  • pregnant with twin

Is second labor easier with second baby?

Most likely! Although not written in stone and certainly not the case for some moms, second labor tends to be easier and faster.

The general rule for most moms with subsequent pregnancies is that they will usually labor half the time and push half the time than they did the first time.

However, that isn’t always the case.  As you will soon see, by reading the remarkable first vs second labor stories of these incredible mommy bloggers who share their stories… babies have the last say despite of our expectations!

Is Labor Easier With Second Baby?

(37 Moms Share Their Labor Stories)

Is labor easier with second baby? Second labor vs first differences

1. My First vs Second Birth Stories 

I can write a whole book about my labor stories. I am sure every mom can!

But, for the purpose of this article, I will try to summarize the key points of both labor and delivery stories so that it is easier for you to see the differences.

First Labor 

  • Pregnant with boy
  • Age: 28
  • Water broke at 39w+6d
  • Epidural
  • Labor: 12 hours
  • Push time: 45 minutes (OOUCH!)
  • Baby weight: 8+ pounds
  • Born at 40 wks on his due date

Second Labor 

  • Pregnant with girl
  • Age: 31
  • Contractions at 40w (water broke on its own at the hospital)
  • Epidural (didn’t work)
  • Labor: 4 hours
  • Push time: 5 minutes
  • Baby weight: 7.9 pounds
  • Born at 40w+1d

So, was labor easier with second baby? Yes! Overall, it was much easier. Although it hurt a bit more because the epidural didn’t work.

You can read my full birthing and breastfeeding stories here.

2. Jen from Diffusing the Tension

With my first, I had Pitocin and an epidural. Labor was about 13 hours from start to finish. The pain was intense, but the epidural helped.

Baby number 2 was terrible. Labor was easier in the sense that it was shorter (only 4.5 hours with 2 pushes). However, the contractions hurt way more and I didn’t have time for an epidural.

3. Terryn from Just A Simple Home

First delivery

I was only 21 with when my first child was born, so I was very much unprepared! I didn’t know enough to ask for things to be done differently. I didn’t know that I could request things. It was a long, hard 24-hour labor and ended up almost having a csection. I had a very hard postpartum recovery as well.

Subsequent deliveries

I have since gone to have 6 more babies!

Each one has been better than the last.

I know what I wanted and needed. My husband was prepared to help me through it. I prepared for birth and recovery during my pregnancies, and have learned to speak up for what I want.

My recoveries are pretty quick now, as well!

4. Gemma from Seaside Sundays 

My first labour was an induction and only took 4 hours from start to finish. It was very easy and quick! Induction is awesome in my opinion!

My second labour was also relatively easy as I didn’t feel contractions until I was 8cm dilated and my water broke (at prenatal yoga class!). However second babies tend to be bigger and my second labour was tougher than the first because of that.

Even though I wanted to push within 30 minutes of getting to the hospital, they made me breathe through the urge for 6 hours until the baby dropped more.

This made the second labour very hard. My baby was finally born after a few pushes and weighed in at 9lbs 6oz!

5. Charissa from The Wild, Wild West Parenting Blog

During my first labor and delivery, my water broke before labor began. The first time, I was pretty much afraid the entire time since it was all so new to me.

The second time, they ended up breaking my water once labor was well underway. I also found the second labor less scary, overall, because I had done it before. I was the exception to the rule in that my second labor was actually longer than my first, but the pushing time was shorter.

6. Christina from Mom in the Six

Both of my labors were very similar. My water broke with both, I was induced with both.

However, with the second baby, everything went much faster. I felt the need to push while getting my epidural!

So my second ended up being a natural, much faster birth. In the end, it was an “easier” birth. Who knew that a natural hospital birth wasn’t so bad?!

Related Article: 5 Best Online Childbirth Classes for Home or Hospital Birth

7. Jen from Three Kids, Three Cats, and a Husband

During my first delivery, they started inducing me at 9 pm, so I was having contractions all through the night with no sleep. Also, I was determined to not have an epidural with my first child (although I eventually gave in). That two things specifically, that made my first labor harder.

With my second child, I decided beforehand to get the epidural when I felt ready. It was also induced labor.

So, YES! Labor was easier with my second. I was in labor for about 4 hours with my second baby, and it was literally a painless birth.

8. Elaine from Mom Blog Life

My second labor and delivery were much easier!

I went to the hospital both times and the biggest difference is the way they told me to push! It was so much easier on my body.

I was able to deliver faster and with less pain too! It actually amazed me that with slight changes, you can have a totally different experience!

Related Article: The Ultimate Postpartum Care Kit (All-Natural and Non-Toxic)

9. Audrey from Mommy Enlightened

There wasn’t a lot of difference between my first and second labor.

I had a scheduled induction with both at 39 1/2 weeks. I got an epidural before I felt contractions, so neither birth experience was painful. My labor with the first was 7 1/2 hours, my second was 7 hours.

I was more emotional with my second. I’m not really sure what I was so scared of since my first experience was wonderful, but I certainly felt more panicked the second time around. They were both very easy labors and I’m grateful for that.

10. Dawn from Wild Simple Joy

For my first labor, I was induced after a successful ECV (external cephalic version) to turn him since he was breech. Labor took 42 hours, I got an epidural at 32 hours in. Pushing took 1 hour and I had a couple of small labia tears.

With my second, labor started spontaneously and only took 6 hours from start to finish. Once I arrived at the hospital there was no time for an epidural! I pushed 5 times and he was born! No tearing at all.

Labor was much easier and shorter with my second, but because of not having time for any pain medication, it was definitely more painful and more frantic!

First birth vs second birth differences

11. Emily from The Journey of Parenthood

My first labor was SO hard because I didn’t know what I was doing and struggled a LOT with figuring out how to push the “right way.” I pushed for 3 hours!

My second labor went SO much smoother because I had that past experience and knew what to expect. Pushing was much, much quicker (whew!).

I had natural drug-free childbirths with all three of my biological babies.

12. Nancy from All Natural Mothering

The first time around, I labored for nearly 24 hours before I delivered my baby boy. I was induced, had an epidural and they had to use forceps to deliver my baby.

Second time around I decided to labor at home as long as I could. I rushed to the hospital when my contractions were frequent and within 4 hours my little girl was born without any medical intervention.

Personally, I felt that I was informed, educated, and confident with my second baby. I was calm, focused, and less stressed which made the labor process faster.

13. Sarah from The Stylish Mommy

The first labor was definitely longer as it took longer for me to dilate. I even had to have my water broken by the midwife when I was 7cm as it was so slow.

With my second, it was quicker as well as the dilating process. And they only broke my water once I was ready to push.

14. Stacey from Milkology

My first labor was vaginal with no pain meds (I felt everything!) It was one of the hardest things I ever went through (the ring of fire is real, ladies!) However, the postpartum recovery was a breeze. The first delivery was with only one baby.

My second labor was a scheduled c-section and I felt absolutely nothing during the delivery.  My 2nd labor was so easy where everything was done to me and I didn’t have to lift a finger, but recovery was SO hard and painful. The second delivery was with two (boy/girl twins!)

★ Note: Milkology has 3 fantastic and affordable Online Breastfeeding Classes for moms. All Masterclasses are taught by Stacey herself. She is a Certified Lactation Educator through CAPPA, a mom of 3, and the founder of Milkology.

15. Maria from Babies and Beers

My first labor I had to be induced and it took three days. My epidural had worn off by the time it was time to push, so I felt EVERYTHING.

With my second labor, I did not have to be induced and everything happened naturally. The contractions were so so bad, though. My epidural was given about one hour before I had to push, so I didn’t feel anything. It was great!

16. Caitlin from Twin Mom and More

I thought I would know what to expect and be better prepared for my second labor, when BAM, at 8-weeks pregnant, we found out we were having twins.

Everything I thought I knew went out the window.

My twins were born 8-weeks prematurely, and it was very fast labor… my epidural didn’t even have a chance to kick in, and I had to deliver on an operating table, in case of an emergency c-section.

I wouldn’t say that labor with my 2nd pregnancy was easier or harder, just so completely different!

Related Article: Second Pregnancy Differences vs First (What to Expect)

17. Brandi from Chicken Scratch Diaries

With my first labor, I read through the “What to Expect: Week by Week” book provided by my OB’s office and felt I was prepared for ANYTHING and it actually went pretty smoothly.

Second time around (3 years later), I got lazy, I think! I didn’t brush up on things like relaxation techniques like I should have.  Then, I let my OB talk me into an induction at 39 weeks because she was going on vacation.

Being induced seemed to make my labor so much more intense than the first time around.

18. Hannah from A Balanced Mom

With my second labor, I knew what to expect and what was happening.

I wasn’t as stressed, so I think that helped move things along. It progressed a lot faster, and I wasn’t in labor as long.

I also healed a lot faster postpartum, which was crazy to me because my second daughter was actually an entire pound heavier than my first child.

19.  Christina from Real Life Mama

My first labor began with my water breaking. I began contracting naturally and delivered my daughter 12.5 hours later.

My second labor began with contractions and was much faster. By the time I got to the hospital about two hours after starting contracting, I was already at 10cm dilated! My son came just a few hours after that.

I prefer the speed of the second labor for the sake of being done and meeting my baby sooner. However,  the reality is your running a marathon either way.

The same distance was covered, but with my first labor, it was as if I jogged and with my second it was if I sprinted. Hard, tiring, and amazing both times even though they were so different!

20. Jess from ChromoChallenges

My first labor was with a 6lb 8oz girl. It was a vaginal birth and I ended up with an epidural.

My second baby was a 10 pound 1-ounce boy. Even with his size, second labor was far easier. I barely felt it until my midwife helped dilate me with a foley bulb.

Natural birth isn’t any more of a cakewalk than birth with epidural, but I’m proud of both experiences.

21. Donna from The Upward Blip

Labor was uncomfortable and exhausting, but it was never painful for me.

With my firstborn, I was in labor for 22 hours. I didn’t know what to expect so I just followed everything my doctor and nurses told me. It sure was easy to follow instructions, but nerve-wracking nonetheless.

The experience did wonders with my second labor. My firsthand experience with labor and delivery made my second a lot less scary, easier, and shorter.

first labor vs second labor

22. Hayley from Miss Manypennies

My first labor started a couple of days before she was born with irregular contractions. Once they were regular enough to go to hospital, I tried to have a pool birth. However, 7 hours later, labor still wasn’t progressing and so they broke my water.

Fast forward a few hours and my daughter’s heart rate dropped. I ended up needing an episiotomy and ventouse delivery. I also had a retained placenta so a spinal was necessary for manual removal.

In contrast, my second baby was born in half the time and with no drama.

My third labor was even quicker and the baby was out with only 2 pushes!

23. Kimberly from Team Cartwright

This may sound surprising, but my second labor with twins was easier than my first with a singleton.

With my first, I went into labor naturally and I did not have an epidural. My first labor started at night and laboring all night instead of sleeping was exhausting!

Second labor for me was easier for two big reasons. First, I was better rested the second time around, and also, I was better prepared since I knew what to expect during a hospital vaginal birth.

You can do all you want to get ready for labor, but until you experience it you have no idea what it is really like. With my second I had done it before, and I was really ready. It made everything much easier.

24. Bhawana from Code 2 Cook

The first delivery was a nightmare come true. Water broke in the night when I was 6 months 27 days pregnant. In the hospital, doctors tried to stop leaking water, but that didn’t work and decided to deliver the baby instead.

I got induced and after 4 hours my son came out via normal delivery. I did not feel much except contraction pain as the baby was very small (925 grams). He had to be in ICU for 2.5 months but now things are fine.

The second delivery was a totally different experience. I had a full-term baby with a good weight (7 pounds). After 3 hours of induction, I wasn’t contracting enough. The contractions were so painful and coming so quickly. It was tough to push for an hour as the baby was floating and was not coming down.

I was exhausted and asked for an epidural, when the doctor said, ” just one more push and it is done”. Finally, they used a suction method to take her out.

In conclusion, my second delivery was more problematic than first.

25. Shannon from Family Joys

First Labor 

I didn’t really understand the different stages of the birth process when I had my first baby. I had read Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth and a very out-dated book by Margaret Gamper called, Relax! Here’s Your Baby.

Both of these books stressed the importance of natural childbirth and that my mindset would play a key role in my ability to manage my pain while giving birth.

Unfortunately, simply knowing this was not enough. I didn’t have any practical strategies, anything I could actually DO once I started feeling those contractions.

I ended up needing an epidural, which made pushing much more difficult.

After the delivery doctor unsuccessfully tried to help the baby emerge using a vacuum extractor, she said I had one more chance to push the baby out, or I would have to get a C-section.

Thankfully, the baby did come out at the next push, but because it was such a long labor, she had to stay in the NICU for two nights before we could go home. Although the final outcome was great, it was a difficult and scary birth.

Second labor

With the second baby, I prepared!

I attended a birth class (with my husband!), I jogged and did yoga regularly to keep strong, and I used the Hypnobabies CD to practice self-hypnosis every day during the third trimester.

It was a much easier birth. I had practiced self-hypnosis so much that I believe it is what got me through every contraction.

Not having an epidural meant I could feel my body “bearing down” in the final stage of labor and I knew exactly when to push.

Labor was so much easier the second time around. Getting educated about the birth process and the daily preparation of my mind and body made all the difference.

26. Liz from Blue and Hazel

I was induced with my first. I tried to avoid an epidural but got it around 7 cm after hours and hours of pain. Three hours later we had our baby!

With my second, I was also induced. As soon as they allowed me to have an epidural I got one (around 4 cm). The difference here was that 30 minutes after the epidural I was holding my baby.

Lightning speed fasts and I was just so thankful the epidural kicked in just in time.

So yes, labor was much faster and easier with my second baby!

27. Allie from The Perfect Pregnancy Plan

With my first labor, I went 1-week post-date and was forced to be induced by my doctor.

While I had hoped for natural labor with little intervention, that’s not the way it worked out. After being in the hospital, strapped into the bed with a fetal monitor and IV for almost an entire day, I was in a lot of pain.

I had been in a horrible car accident only 2 weeks before and laying in the bed unable to move around while laboring made my neck, back, and labor pain very intense. I caved and got the epidural, which worked well and relieved all pain.

I got lucky and pushing with the epidural wasn’t difficult for me. She was out within 4 pushes.

However, I had no idea how hard I was pushing and tore horribly, making recovery long and hard. It took a year until those parts felt nearly normal again.

My second labor was a lot different and really a dream birth.

I went into labor naturally at exactly 40 weeks and labored at home for about 5 hours before heading to the hospital.

After being checked in I was only 3 1/2 cm dilated to my surprise. But, immediately after they checked me, my water broke and within 30 minutes I was fully dilated. My baby brought herself into the world. I merely breathed her out!

There was no tearing, and recovery was quick and simple!

I believe properly preparing my mind and body for labor and recovery the second time made the experience so much better! I am a few weeks from my third labor and am hoping it goes as smoothly as my second.

Related Article:  13 Things to Expect After Birth and Practical Tips to Heal Faster 

28. Amber from Cheers To Mommy Years

With my first baby, I went into labor naturally, but it was long and took an hour of pushing.

With my second baby I was induced, labor took a few hours less, and only 5 minutes of pushing.

So, definitely, labor was easier with the second baby.

29. Kuburat from KBH Writing

My first labour took over 12 hours before delivery.

While my second labor with twins took even longer. At the end of the day, the doctor suggested that I do a C-section, which I accepted.

In conclusion, from personal experience, my second pregnancy was way more difficult than the first!

second labor birthing stories

30. Teresa from Kombucha & Kale

As the oldest of 12, I wasn’t scared about going into labor with my 1st child. I thought I had it in the bag. Didn’t have any morning sickness, or other common pregnancy symptoms.

However, during my first labor, after many hours of contractions, we discovered my hips were out of alignment. So, when I was pushing I was literally squeezing the baby hard against my pelvic bone.

My heartbeat and the baby went down and I would have probably had to have a C-section. However, a well-experienced nurse had me get on all fours, re-positioned the baby and I had him naturally!

With baby #2 she was late so I had my membranes stripped (a bad idea!). Less than 24 hours later I had continuous contractions that never stopped.

I was in agonizing pain until my midwife finally showed up. The hospital refused to give me my epidural until then. It was the closest I ever came to losing my mind.

So, I would definitely say baby #2 was the worse labor experience!!!!

31. Danae from Simply the Kellers

During my first labor, the contractions gradually got closer together as labor progressed which took a lot longer. It also took about 20 minutes of pushing as opposed to my second baby who was out with one push.

My second labor was a lot easier than my first labor in almost every way. The length of labor was about 5 hours shorter than my first and progressed much faster.

I went from an occasional contraction here and there to full active labor with contractions 2 minutes apart.

I think knowing what to expect also helped me be more relaxed and let my body do what it needed to which helped make my second labor easier and more enjoyable.

32. Samantha from Evidence-Based Mommy

My second labor was MUCH quicker than my first.

For my second, it was 3 hours from when I woke up with contractions to when I had a baby in my arms. Because everything was so quick, I didn’t even have time for an epidural!

But I was also happier with my second labor. The doctor placed my baby on my chest as soon as she was born, something that didn’t happen with my first, and the nurses valued and protected that first “golden hour” after birth.

In addition, my midwife gave me a surprise episiotomy for my first birth, something I definitely wasn’t happy about. My second delivery wasn’t “easier,” but I found it more fulfilling and that birth experience gave me the courage to purposely go epidural-free for my third birth!

33. Shauna from Diary of a Marketing Mommy

I experienced a few differences between my first and second labor

The first started 4 1/2 weeks early and all labor pains were felt in my back only. Not recognizing this as labor, I went to work and didn’t truly labor until the very end when we finally went to the hospital only to realize I was 6 cm dilated and the baby was coming.

Though I should receive an epidural, I didn’t know how to push and it took a while to get into a rhythm.

With my second baby, I awoke with contractions, once again in my back, but this time I recognized them and was able to make immediate plans to head to the hospital.

My labor was much faster, however, and there was no time for an epidural or much of anything before the baby was born.

Technically, I felt more pain but knowing what to expect definitely made the second labor easier and faster.

34. Caitlin from Real Mom Recs

I was fortunate enough to have two relatively smooth birth experiences that went according to plan.

My plan for both was to have a vaginal birth with an epidural whenever I felt I needed it. The two births were similar in many ways, but the second one was easier for a few reasons.

For starters, it was much faster- 7 hours of labor vs. 22 hours, and 8 minutes of pushing vs. 90 minutes!

I suppose my body learned how to be more efficient the second time. The other main difference was that I had no tearing with the second, after having many tears and stitches with the first.

All in all, both were positive birth experiences but the second was close to perfect.

35. Amy from The Briar Patch

First Labor 

I experienced a rough pregnancy due to having a Bicornuate Uterus (a uterus with two ‘horns’ but one cervix). The baby had a sub-chorionic hemorrhage and marginal cord insertion in her placenta throughout the entire pregnancy, most likely because of the unnatural shape of my uterus that can cause the placenta to abnormally attach to the uterine wall.

Throughout the entire pregnancy, they were worried about growth due to the poorer blood flow through the placenta.

However, I naturally went into labor at exactly 40 weeks. The same day I was going to be induced for the fear that the placenta would be able to sustain her if she went overdue. We arrived at the hospital at 4cm dilated after 6 hours of labor.

Labored naturally until they broke my water around 6 cm. Them, I received an epidural around 8cm. The doctor manually turned my daughter’s face slightly as she was sunny-side up, to assist her further into the birth canal.

Then, I was able to begin pushing at around hour 15 of labor and delivered my baby vaginally head down after 1 hour of pushing. I sustained a second-degree tear, but it healed naturally and quickly.

Second Labor

The main difference between my First and Second labor was that my second resulted in an emergency C-section without trial of labor due to fetal distress.

There are a few reasons why this happened:

1. The baby had poor growth: not related to placental abnormalities, but it was a result of an intrauterine growth restriction (another possible side-effect of my uterus shape).

2. She presented breech and kept turning in my uterus. Breech presentation is EXTREMELY common in Bicornuate Uteruses.

She was growing in the same horn my first daughter had grown in. It is possible that horn was too large for this second smaller baby and allowed her to continually flip. I delivered my second baby at 36 weeks and  6 days.

My main message would be, if you have a bicornuate uterus, DO NOT be fearful that your baby will be breech, or that you will not be able to deliver naturally. It happened for me, and I want to share that it can happen for others too!

No two labors are ever the same.

36. Christina from Raising Biracial Babies

My first labor was 12 hours from start to finish (including 1 hour of pushing) and my water broke first. So the contractions were more intense for longer.

My second labor was 8 hours from start to finish (including 15 minutes of pushing) and my water broke right before I started pushing. My contractions were milder for longer compared to the first time.

So, yes! My second labor was easier because it was faster. I also pushed for less amount of time, and the contractions weren’t as sharp as the first time.

37. Charlotte from For Brighter Tomorrows 

Labor was not that much different for all of my deliveries.

However, going into it with prior experience makes it easier to understand the process.

★ Related Articles:

Final Thoughts!

So? Is labor easier with second baby?

Given these remarkable birth stories, the answers seem to be almost unanimous…

Yes! For the most part, labor the second time around has quite a few advantages which make labor a bit more manageable.

As you were able to read:

  • experience
  • confidence
  • knowing what to expect
  • “muscle memory”

… all helped most moms experience easier labor with their second baby!

However, that wasn’t always the case.

Truth is, all we can do is try our best to ready, while also being flexible enough to

With that said, despite what transpires during our labor stories, one thing remains true…

To be able to listen to all of these moms share their first vs second labor experiences is an incredible testament to a woman’s strength and determination to bring a precious life into existence.

You my dear friend… are nothing less than magnificent.

So, was labor easier with your second baby? Share your stories in the comment section below…

Don’t forget to pin for later…

second labor vs first labor differences

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for including my info. I love the article and reading about so many different exp. Really this is an experience for a lifetime. I will share this article on facebook and pin the image.

    1. Thank you Bhawana for sharing your story.
      Listening to other mom’s experiences helps us be more prepared and know what to expect.

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