Overall, I had a great first pregnancy with my daughter. The first and second trimesters were fairly symptom-free. My third trimester was a little rough and seemed to last forever, but I got through it. My second pregnancy has been very different. This article is about first and second pregnancy differences.
During my first pregnancy, I remember having a conversation with my mother-in-law, who has four boys. She told me that every one of her pregnancies was completely different despite having the same sex each time. Her symptoms varied widely from one pregnancy to the next.
Since I had a pretty smooth pregnancy with my daughter, I half-expected to experience the same thing with Baby #2. In fact, I was a little shocked when I experienced my first bout of morning sickness around 5 weeks because I never experienced sickness, nausea, or fatigue with my first.
So, I discuss my first and second pregnancy differences. For ease of reading, I’ve separated the article into first, second, and third trimesters.
Although I was relatively symptom-free with my first pregnancy during the first trimester, I experienced a full range of physical symptoms with my second.
During my second pregnancy, I felt like I experienced every first-trimester symptom in the book. There was nausea, food aversions, bloating, fatigue, gagging, a heightened sense of smell, sleeplessness, and needing to pee all the time.
I was very uncomfortable being sick all day long for almost two months straight. Toward the end of the first trimester, I eventually got used to it because feeling sick was my norm. These symptoms didn’t let up until a few weeks into the second trimester.
Caring for another child
One of the biggest first and second pregnancy differences is having to care for another child while pregnant. Taking care of my 2-year-old daughter was a pretty big challenge during the first trimester, on top of feeling sick all the time.
With constant nausea and fatigue, it was difficult to get through basic toddler routines like dinner, bath time, and bedtime. There was a lot of guilt because I didn’t have the energy to follow through with our normal routines. My toddler got more screen time and we ate out more than we ever have before.
- Related reading: 8 tips to survive being pregnant with a toddler
During my first pregnancy, I didn’t really ‘pop’ until after 20 weeks. At the time, I was very fit, slim, and working out a lot. It took my body some time to adjust to being pregnant.
With my current second pregnancy, the first-trimester bloat and muscle memory took over so I started to show around 8 weeks! By the end of the first trimester, I was already in maternity shorts and pants.
One of the most positive first and second pregnancy differences is the amount of confidence I have as a pregnant woman the second time around.
I remember having to Google everything with my first pregnancy because I was so clueless. I was anxious about every little twinge, twitch, pain, and weird movement. There was constant worrying about all of the little things and the unknown.
During this pregnancy, there is none of that and it is amazing.
For most women, the second trimester is the easiest three months of pregnancy as the sickness and fatigue from the first trimester fade away. (Source) It’s usually known as the ‘best trimester.’ This rang true for my first and second pregnancies.
During my first pregnancy, I was wearing my normal, non-maternity clothes well into the second trimester. For my second pregnancy, I needed a lot more maternity clothes much sooner.
In fact, around 17 weeks with my second, I went through all of my clothes and separated maternity from non-maternity items. There was absolutely no way I was fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes.
In my first pregnancy, most of my physical symptoms occurred in the third trimester exclusively. During my second pregnancy, I am seeing a lot of symptoms much earlier than with my first.
I was surprised when I woke up one morning and my hands and feet were slightly swollen, enough to have to remove my wedding band. Swelling, already?! Then, another day during the second trimester, I recognized a clogged milk duct. As I rubbed it, my breast started to leak colostrum, which did not happen at all with my first pregnancy.
Preparing for baby
With my daughter, my husband and I were on top of preparations for the baby! Maybe it was nerves or general excitement, but we had her nursery completely set up by the end of the second trimester.
During this pregnancy, life has been very busy and challenging. I haven’t had the energy during this pregnancy to multitask and be on top of things. We are also potty training our toddler and I accepted a promotion at work.
Although I have set up my private second baby registry list and picked out a nursery theme, we have not yet started on the nursery. So, that’ll definitely be a task for the third trimester.
- Related reading: Must have items for your second baby registry list
I am 37 weeks pregnant as I sit here writing the ‘third-trimester’ portion of this article. When I compare my first pregnancy and second pregnancy third trimesters, they were so different for various reasons. Although both had their challenges, I would say that the third trimester for Baby #2 was a little easier than with my first pregnancy, but not by much!
Braxton Hicks contractions
During my first pregnancy, I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions later in the third trimester. They were pretty uneventful, painless, and inconsistent. Although I did get them more and more in the last few weeks of my first pregnancy, they did not bother me.
For this second pregnancy, holy Braxton Hicks contractions! I did start feeling them toward the end of my second trimester and pretty much this entire third trimester. Around 34 weeks, I ended up going to Labor & Delivery triage because I had them all non-stop all day long and they were uncomfortable.
At the hospital, they had me drink plenty of fluids while monitoring my contractions and the baby. Once they determined that I was not in pre-term labor, I was discharged. After my discharge, I continued to have non-stop contractions for a few more days. Since then, I have been taking a daily magnesium supplement, which has helped immensely in calming down the contractions.
Getting Braxton Hicks contractions earlier in subsequent pregnancies is one of the most common first and second pregnancy differences.
Aches & pains
Physical aches and pains are often the worst in the third trimester as your body starts to prepare for birth and your stomach stretches to accommodate a growing fetus.
With my first pregnancy, I had so many growing and stretching pains that were uncomfortable on a daily basis. Most of the aches and pains were centered in my pelvis as it stretched and widened for birth.
In my second pregnancy, the aches and pains are substantially less than my first pregnancy. My body has given birth before and knows the whole routine. Although I’ve had some annoying round ligament pain here and there, I’ve been virtually free of pelvic pain this pregnancy.
I have been sick a lot in my current third trimester, which is very different from my first pregnancy where I did not get sick once.
One culprit is my daycare-attending toddler, who has been sick several times in the past few months. My husband and I got the stomach flu, an upper respiratory infection, and the common cold from her. It’s been quite a third trimester getting sick so often and it has not been fun.
Caring for a toddler
I fondly look back at the days during my first pregnancy when I could just lay around, lounge, and relax during my third trimester. There were times when I would lay on the couch with my cats and watch TV for hours. It was amazing.
My two-year-old has nonstop energy and does not care in the least that I am 9 months pregnant with a huge belly. During this trimester, it has gotten more difficult to carry her around, get on the floor to play with her, and generally keep up with her. I find myself looking forward to the little joys in life, like being able to get on the floor and get back up with ease.
First and second pregnancy differences
I got the inspiration for this article in my second trimester and started writing as I was experiencing the changes and noticing differences. Since I have a bit to go in my pregnancy, there will be updates and a third-trimester section in a few months!