The Benefits of Being a Labor Veteran
The mental note-to-self during labor with my first child went something like this: You definitely don't want to do this again. Three kids later, it's obvious that I did not listen to my own advice. I guess it's true that the joy of having a child far outweighs the discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth. But even beyond that, I have to admit that giving birth was easier the second and third time around. For those of you who may be wondering if that means less pain, in my case it did. But before I jump into that part of the story, I'd just like to say that my subsequent labor and deliveries were better. Much better -- and here's why:
My symptoms did not change. My attitude did. For instance, I experienced just as much nausea during my second pregnancy and my third, as I did with the first. In fact, nearly everything about the subsequent pregnancies and the deliveries was identical. What changed was how I handled it mentally. Knowing what to expect made it easier to prepare both physically and mentally, and it eliminated the surprise factor, which in turn, made it easier to cope.
My accommodations were new and improved. My three children each have nearly five years between them. As you might imagine, medical technology changes rapidly during that time period, although I suspect you don't have to wait five years for that to occur. Likewise, hospital birthing rooms took on a new and improved look. The transformation from cold operating room to warmly decorated bedroom-like surroundings was a welcome change indeed.
My subsequent deliveries were faster -- much faster. My first birth was somewhat complicated by the fact that my daughter was in posterior position (the back of the baby's head is against the mothers' back). In spite of this complication, I managed to evade both a C-section and the forceps, but it definitely slowed the process. On the other hand, her brothers came into this world in a hurry, sans posterior problems and all. While I know that subsequent births are not always quicker than first births, it was a welcome truth in my case.
My confidence emerged. Just like anything you've done before, a successful experience generates confidence. With one labor and delivery already on my mommy résumé, I had more confidence with the second pregnancy. Experience taught me what worked well and what didn't, and that's a far cry from the fear of the unknown that accompanies any first birth.
While it's certainly true that no two birth stories are ever the same, most mothers are more physically and mentally prepared the second -- and third -- time around. I certainly was, and it made all the difference!