Are second labors usually quicker and easier?
There is no simple answer to this question. Just as every woman is different, every pregnancy is different as well. In general, however, each successive labor has a probability of progressing faster than the one previous.
Your second labor may indeed be shorter. Most women find that their second labor progresses more quickly than their first labor. During a first labor the average rate of cervical dilation is 1.2 cm per hour. During subsequent deliveries, the average rate of cervical dilation is 1.5 cm per hour. The pushing stage for a first pregnancy averages 1 to 2 hours, while for subsequent pregnancies it averages less than an hour.
In addition, the pain you experience after giving birth is likely to be much more painful this time around. While you may barely even remember experiencing afterpains after you gave birth to your first baby, you’re unlikely to overlook these uterine contractions this time around. Some second-time mothers find, in fact, that they require pain medication to deal with the painful uterine contractions they experience during the first few days after giving birth. While these afterpains are a sign that your uterus is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing – morphing back to its prepregnancy state – some women find them to be every bit as painful as the contractions they experienced during labor.
On the up side, many women find that they are able to relax and enjoy pregnancy the second time around, knowing what to expect. Additionally, having been through labor once helps a woman understand what is happening and how to help things progress at a reasonable rate.
Obviously, there are many other variables that can affect these issues, such as the size and position of a second baby, as well as the loss of abdominal tone that can hamper pushing efforts during a second pregnancy.