The day you become a mother will be one of those memories that polaroid themselves into your mind forever. The way the heart just grows beyond explanation and how mother’s intuition just kicks in all on its own. It is the exact moment that you stop living for yourself and start living for another soul.   But the mistakes – oh the mistakes you make. Nothing purposeful of course, but within the first few months of holding your first bundle of love, you will look back over your labor and pregnancy as a whole and you will begin to make a mental checklist of things that you will do different the next time you see two pink lines. 

Everyone says that birth order plays a huge role on a child’s personality, but that may be said for the pregnancy order as well. The first pregnancy is full of nerves and anxiety, surprises and doubts. These emotions will still exist throughout the second pregnancy, but the way a mother handles them is what changes.

The six main lessons a mother learns from her first pregnancy include:

Taking the Time to Become Educated: Education is key. This is YOUR pregnancy, and it is your right to be informed. Whether your first birth was rainbows and unicorns or an emergency c-section, there was something you learned; probably a handful of things (or more) that you learned.  No two births, or pregnancies, are the same so preparing for anything is the way to go. An epidural has major possible side effects. It may not work, or it may ware off before labor ends. You may have a precipitous birth and not have time for one! What this means is that you should be prepared to handle labor – natural labor. By taking a childbirth class that prepares you for an unmedicated birth, you will learn all the ins and outs of labor.  You will understand the terminology; you will know how to prioritize your birth plan, and you will be informed. There is nothing more empowering, in ANY birth situation, than making informed decisions and owning your labor.

Having a Supportive Birth Team: Your birth care provider is not set in stone, and you can switch at any moment of your pregnancy. The doctor or midwife that you choose to be present for your labor and delivery should make you feel confident. The environment in which you choose to birth in should make you feel calm and safe. Those whom you choose to be present for the birth should be nothing if not supportive of you and your wishes. Enlisting a doula to support you and your partner is a great way to ensure that you feel at ease while laboring. 

Not Eating for Two: Too many women learn this lesson the hard way after their first pregnancy. Our society tends to play up the whole ‘pregnancy craving’ thing. It does not matter what side of the scale you weighed in on before this pregnancy, healthy is the goal. There is no exact number of pounds to be gained; there is only what is right for you. Remembering how hard it is to shed the daily donuts, though – that can be avoided.

Exercising: This includes kegels. While pregnancy brings exhaustion and weight gain with it, exercises improves common ailments, keeps weight gain in check, provides more oxygenated blood to the baby, and sends endorphins from the brain. Endorphins make you happy, so exercise is a must. Many moms tend to think of working out while pregnant as off-limits, but that could not be farther from the truth. There are plenty of prenatal fitness options out there if you are not comfortable continuing with or partaking in a non-pregnancy guided sport. There is really no excuse not to exercise throughout pregnancy. Your post-baby #2 body will thank you.

Relaxing: Somethings in life get easier with more experience, pregnancy is no exception. The first time you tip toe through pregnancy as if you are walking on egg shells, but not the second time around. You are too busy parenting the child you already have to stress over every little twinge you feel with this pregnancy. Most second time mothers claim this is the #1 thing that changes with each pregnancy after the first. Every mother swears they become more relaxed. This could be because once you know you are perfectly capable of growing a tiny human, you begin to really trust yourself and your own intuition the next time the opportunity arises.

Cherishing the baby in utero: It is so special to be the only one who really knows the baby growing inside of you. No one knows her movements or heartbeat like her mother does. Once earth side, this tiny baby is shred with the world, but while still in the womb, her mother is the only being that truly knows her. Throughout the first pregnancy, this monumental realization may not be made until after the baby is born – after she must be shared. It is a definite lesson that is taken to heart to treasure with the second pregnancy.