As I enter the third trimester of my second pregnancy, I’ve been reflecting back on both the differences and similarities between my two pregnancies have been and how I’ve responded to them.
Depending on where you’re at on the spectrum of motherhood, you’ve probably been told or have even said that nothing can ever really prepare you for becoming a mom until you go through it, which I think 100000% applies to pregnancy as well.
You can have all the best plans and intentions, but the experience can be what it is (for better or worse) and it is often a journey of letting go and allowing what is from the moment of finding out through raising the child. Below are some of the top topics of pregnancy that I’ve compared from this pregnancy to my last.
The Waiting Game (aka the first twelve weeks)
With both pregnancies, I knew at least a week prior to any positive test that I was pregnant. I like to think that I’m in tune with my body and both times, something was just OFF. My husband refused to believe it until the test was FOR SURE the first time (I won’t even tell you what he said the second time hahah) but I knew deep down something was going on that wasn’t normal.
I think this is a topic that no one tells you about beforehand…just how HARD it is to wait out those first twelve weeks, basically holding your breath with the news that your life could be FOREVER different in 9 months…but also having to casually go on with life as normal even though it is constantly in the back of your head.
You also have to navigate those early weeks and your choices in front of other people, when for me it was too delicate of news to share but I also didn’t want to give it away by not drinking at a wedding, or not having sushi, etc. which for many would be a dead giveaway.
And, if you are sick/nauseous, it becomes even harder to hide while having to go to work or church (or in my case the first time around teach a bunch of fitness classes or this time give a talk at a conference in front of 100 people) and pretend you’re feeling great.
It’s exciting and scary and nerve-wrecking and challenging all wrapped into one. This time around I think I was more prepared for just how long that time period can feel and knew to just let go and get through it vs. feel the way I did the first time.
The “Morning” Sickness
I was so hopeful this time around that after all the cleansing and detoxing of my body that I did between pregnancies that morning sickness wouldn’t be a thing…and man was I disappointed. It is so different for every person, but from everyone I’ve talked to, “whole day sickness” would be more appropriate of a title.
It is such a wild experience between the exhaustion, nausea, aversions to most foods and overall just “ick” feeling that most days you wonder how you’ll survive any more days, let alone weeks of this.
The first time around I simply had to go to work and had to teach classes that I don’t think I really allowed it to slow me down…which in retrospect I wish I would have listened more to my body and not pushed through it. This time around, despite it still being awful, I decided to lean into it and take naps when I could (not the easiest with a toddler) or go to bed early, etc. and tried desperately to have the mentality that (hopefully) this too shall pass.
You can try all the things- Vitamin B6, ginger, the snap bracelets- but I’ve come to the realization that the body is doing this for a reason and we have to stop trying to control/pacify it and simply, again, lean into the discomfort.
My mentality/philosophy on nutrition and what is “healthy” has changed a TON since my first pregnancy and thus my choices have been a lot different this time around.
Honestly, the first time I was scared to gain weight and tried to stick with smoothies, salads, etc. and whatever wouldn’t impact my body as much. Spoiler alert- you still gain weight. It’s normal and it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.
However, our nutrition during pregnancy GREATLY impacts both the baby and our postpartum experience. The less calories and nutrients we eat during pregnancy, the worse off we will be postpartum. So, on one hand you may think you’re helping yourself not to gain weight by eating less during pregnancy but you will end up paying for it after the baby is born.
This time around, I’ve focused on really nutrient-dense foods- eggs, raw dairy, cooked vegetables, gelatin/collagen, getting > 100g protein x day, berries + apples, carrots, beef sticks, bone broth, etc. and haven’t sweat when we’ve also eaten garbage when I’m either too tired to cook or nothing else sounded good.
My concern this time is more centered around minerals and nutrients and building up my body so that both the baby and I postpartum will be nourished as we recover.
On a similar note to nutrition, my first pregnancy I chose to maintain the same levels of activity I had before pregnancy (aka tons of HIIT workouts each week) and ran up until about like 35 weeks. I wore it as a badge of honor that I could still “keep up” despite being pregnant.
Fast forward to postpartum when I tested my hormones and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t lose weight and everything was TOTALLY depleted. I had crushed my adrenals so hard that my body after it all was like “f off” and refused to shift despite my efforts.
I do think exercise during pregnancy is incredibly important, but I now see it as preparing the body for the year postpartum when you start to do a lot of movements that prior you didn’t do. Things like core and back strength are HUGE postpartum when carrying/holding/wearing a baby so I’ve chosen to focus on those muscle groups over a ton of cardio and jumping.
My cardio is mostly walking, picking up sticks in the yard and overall keeping up the house and a toddler alive. Wearing an Oura ring has showed me just how active I am daily despite many days not doing a “workout.” I now want to go into postpartum strong and ready for life with a new baby vs. depleted and exhausted.
With my last pregnancy, I was working two jobs, selling and buying a new house, moving and going a million miles a minute. I definitely was sacrificing sleep to get it all done (or go to an early AM workout class like above) and I think that greatly hurt me postpartum. Before having the baby IS the time to sleep because you don’t know what it will be like after the fact (and in our case, for two YEARS after birth it was rough).
This time, I am NOT compromising on sleep. If it means I miss a morning workout, I miss it. If it means that I need a nap, for the most part if I can take it I will. I’m also using my Oura to track my sleep which helps me to then decide how hard I’m going to push it the day ahead based on the sleep I got the night before.
I know that sleep is going to be compromised in a few short months so for now I am going to enjoy every hour of shut eye I can get!
Truthfully this time around is much different for me, just based on the health challenges we found out about with our daughter at around 20 weeks into her pregnancy. We basically were told they weren’t sure if she would make it or if we’d be in the hospital for months and that we just had to wait until birth to find out.
Her health and experience have changed and challenged me in indescribable ways over the past three years but I wish I could go back to my first pregnant self and let her know that. It was such a challenge to hear other pregnant women complain about simple things when in my heart I was possibly carrying a child that may not make it. I was very guarded and didn’t tell anyone what was going on, didn’t decorate her nursery or even open up many of the baby shower gifts until after we came home.
After much testing and consults, we knew that after having her we basically had a 50/50 chance that any future children would end up in a similar circumstance.
We were in the process of trying to determine what we wanted to do when we found out we were pregnant with this little guy (in my opinion, God made the choice for us). I was worried prior to even getting pregnant again about how I would handle a pregnancy again mentally, but this time around has been so different.
Despite knowing that there was a 50% chance of a similar situation, I realized that no amount of worrying prior to our 20 week ultrasound was going to change the outcome. All I could do was take care of the body that housed this baby, limit as much toxicity as possible and just be at peace mentally until we knew more.
By the grace of God, so far everything looks great for this baby and I am able to do the homebirth that I wanted to do last time and couldn’t be happier. We do still need to do some testing after birth with him, but overall he seems to be a healthy baby that I can deliver at home.
And even if things didn’t go this way, I think after going through it the first time I realized how much is out of my control and to instead focus on what I CAN control.
I have to “LOL” at this category for my first pregnancy because this wasn’t even a thought then. I mean, I bought like postpartum disposable underwear but aside from that I assumed everything would just go back to “normal” after birth….let me tell ya ladies, that is NOT the case!
I think first pregnancy all the “prep” is in the STUFF– the baby registry, the baby clothes- and not enough focus or attention goes into the LIFE PREP- meal plan, help needed, postpartum body care, etc.
This time around all my attention is basically focused on that first couple months after he’s born and how I will set our family up for success. I also am very serious about making the first few months ONLY about our family and my body’s healing.
Last time I tried to jump back into everything from “before” way too quickly and I think I missed out on such a delicate, crucial time of repair and establishing what our new family looks like. This time I am again working hard now so that when that time comes, all we have to do is sit back, take care of a baby and toddler and do the core foundations of eat, sleep and movement.
Overall, I think many will say their second pregnancy is usually so different from the first because they’re older, wiser and have just done it before. I hope these examples can help you wherever you’re at on the spectrum of motherhood!