Category Archives: Birth

Joe D.

Yesterday my friend's husband died. Their son is 8.

A year ago, everything was fine. Then came the diagnosis (whisper when you say it: cancer), surgery, fight, complications, fight, complications, surgery, complications, fight. Hospice. End.

I complain all the time that I "don't have any time."

I don't think that phrase means what I thought it meant.

Q&A: How to help a friend during labor and delivery

Amanda Too writes:

"I need some advice from women who have been through labor and delivery.My friend is due with #2 today and has asked me to support her as a
last-minute stand in.  Her husband is apparently useless during labor
and her doula has become unavailable. I had a C-section with my twins
and didn't take any childbirth classes. I labored for as long as
possible before I called the doctor (4 cm with
contractions 4 minutes apart), but I've never experienced or witnessed
the mid or final stages of labor and delivery. I need some fast
turn-around training–any good videos I could check out from the
library? Or just some advice from women who have been through
childbirth? How can I best support her without much experience or

What a lovely thing to do for your friend!

The first thing I'd say is to get a good book on labor and delivery. All you really need is to understand what happens during the stages of delivery, so it doesn't matter a ton which one you get (they'll all have info on the stages of labor), but my all-time favorite is The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon (my full review of it is here). If you get this one, bring it along with you, as it's got info on basically every kind of intervention you can get with pros and cons listed nonjudgmentally, so it would be a good resource to have on the fly.

I don't have any video recommendations, but maybe someone else out there does.

From the perspective of someone who's gone through two vaginal deliveries, I'd say that your role is really not going to have anything to do with the physical process. She's done it once, so things should go smoothly this second time. She's going to need you there for emotional support. There are certain points in the labor in which your mind plays tricks on you and you think you can't do it. If you can step outside the situation a little and help her realize that she *is* doing it, that's what she's primarily going to need from you.

Also, a note on what I've observed: It seems like there are only two kinds of second labors for women who delivered vaginally the first time. (If anyone has a different kind, please post it.) The first is a fast, intense labor. If the first time it took 24 hours from start to finish, this time it'll take 6-8, but it'll ramp up faster and be way more intense. The second is a long, pokey, half-assed labor that may take a day or two (or even three) with contractions not very close together, and then at the end it slams into gear suddenly and the active part is only an hour to three long.

Both ways seem to be "normal," and I haven't heard anything anecdotally about any differences in length of pregnancy, sex of baby, blah blah blah for the two types. The pushing stage is much faster the second time, too, so if you want to see that, stay in the room.

Does anyone have suggestions for resources for Amanda? Or reminiscences on second labors and deliveries?

Q&A: preparing a young toddler for a new sibling and second deliveries

Ladre writes:

"My husband and I are expecting our second baby in November.  Our first child will be less than 20 months old at that time – is there anything we can do to prepare him for the change about the come?

Also, just a quick question about second deliveries: any truth that they are easier/faster than the first? My Ob/Gyn said yes, but of course, there are exceptions to that.  My first labor was wonderfully easy and fairly quick (11:30 am at the hospital, 6:30 pm delivery) so of course I’m keeping my fingers crossed for at least a repeat of that.  Hoping to get some stories from others so that I have some idea what to expect."

Hmmm. My kids are 3 years apart, so I don’t have any personal experience with prepping a toddler that age for a new sibling. I’m going to need Menita and anyone else with kids very close together to jump in and talk about what you did that was good, what you did that maybe you wouldn’t have done in hindsight, and what you wish you’d done that you didn’t.

About the second labors: I’ve heard tons and tons of birth stories, and it seem to me that vaginal second births (after first vaginal births) seem to go one of two ways. Either they start suddenly and are really forceful and short (6-8 hours from start to finish doesn’t seem uncommon) so it’s like having your first labor condensed into half or less of the time, or else you have on-off labor for days that annoys you and makes you think the baby is never actually going to come out but then all of a sudden things turn around and the baby’s out in 1-3 hours. (I had the second type, with contractions every 12-15 minutes from Sunday evening ’til Tuesday morning, then suddenly I went into hard labor and he was out in an hour.)

But either way it’s easier, because you know what to expect, you know you can do it, and you know you’ve got bigger fish to fry than the labor.

I can’t think of a second labor story I’ve heard that hasn’t been better, in some way, than the first labor story. Either you have an easier vaginal delivery, you have a scheduled c-section, or you try a VBAC and are proud of yourself for trying whether you end up delivering vaginally or by c-section. I really think so much of it is being prepared mentally and knowing you can mother a child.

Anyone who wants to share a story of a second birth (especially compared to a first birth), please tell us!