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Differences between premature and full term labour

(14 Posts)

I delivered my first baby at 32 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia, a premature rupture of the membranes and a placental infection. Whilst I was very unwell (hospitalised for 10 days) and the experience was very traumatic the actual birth was ok. There was a team of paediatricians waiting to take the baby but I had a 'normal' vaginal birth with just gas and air for pain relief.

I'm currently 21 weeks pg with DC2 and obviously hoping for a better experience for myself and the baby this time. There are obviously no guarantees but if I do make it to full term or something close to it I'm wondering what the birth will be like. Second labours are meant to be faster aren't they but as my first DC was only 3Ibs 10 it didn't take very long to get her out. Do you think this labour will be more like a first time one? A few people have (rather thoughtlessly) said to me it will be tougher this time around as I didn't 'stretch' much first time around. It still hurt a lot I can assure you! I also sustained a second degree tear.

Has anyone on here been through premature birth in a previous pregnancy and a full term one next time around? I'd be really interested to know what your experience was like. It's the sort of question I'd like to ask my consultant but at my 16 week appointment he couldn't have been less friendly if he'd tried. I'm very anxious this time around and worries about the birth aren't helping.

Thanks for reading.

vintagecaravanhirelady Sun 04-May-14 07:27:04

You're doing it the other way round from me! They'll be inducing my baby by 35 weeks this time whereas last time I gave birth at 39+6 naturally.

All I can say is that there was no problems with my birth at all with my son. The fact you've been through labour before will speed it all up and you don't need to be 'stretched', it's more of a muscle memory. I had pethidine plus gas and air - labour started at 9am and he was born by 3pm. Just because you've got a bigger baby doesn't mean you lose the advantages gained by being in labour before. Sadly I'd been in labour at 26 weeks before when I lost my first baby, she was so small at that point that I don't know if it made a difference or not.

I genuinely think there's a national sport of 'shitting up the pregnant woman'. Unless you're gestating an enormous child I would assume it won't be too different.

Can probably let you know in the next two weeks anyway, if they stick to the 35 week decision.

theborrower Sun 04-May-14 08:06:47

I don't have experience, but it's a shame your consultant wasn't more approachable. Can you ask your midwife, or ask to see a different consultant?

Thank you for sharing your experience vintage and I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. I'm thankful every day that my little one was lucky enough to come through the experience ok, what you went through must have been heartbreaking. Wishing you all the very best for this pregnancy. xx

magichandles Sun 04-May-14 08:22:01

DC1 was 33+5 and 5 lb 4 and DC2 was 37+5 and 8lbs 3. The labours themselves were pretty similar, even though Dc1 was spontaneous and Dc2 was induced - I took a bit longer to get going with dc2 (probably because of the induction) but both times when I hit about 4cm dilated things progressed very quickly and both Dc2 were born within an hour and a half.

The difference for me was the pushing - dc1 was 3 pushes and out, dc2 felt much longer and harder work, but realistically it can't have been ttth at long. I did have an episiotomy with the much smaller baby, but nothing with DC2 even though he was much bigger (and crucially had a head circumference at the top of the scale.

That's really positive magicchandles, thanks very much for sharing. I thought the difference would be felt at the pushing stage.

Anyone else? Bumping to keep thus on front page for a bit longer.

adaloveslace Sun 04-May-14 12:53:56

I had it the other way around - DD (DC1) was born on her due date weighing 5lb 14 and the experience was as easy and pleasant as I imagine it's possible for labour to be.

DS (DC2) was born at 34 weeks weighing only 3lb 14 and although he was much tinier and the labour was shorter, it was far, far more brutal. The only positive was that I didn't tear second time around (and that he was perfectly healthy!)

The mw said afterwards that premature labours can be very fast and furious, so there's nothing to suggest you're in for a rough ride this time in my experience.

I'm currently 34 weeks with DC3 and very nervous about every ache and pain...and there are quite a few the last couple of days shock shock

HeavenK76 Mon 05-May-14 00:20:06

my dc4 was born at 32 weeks and was small for his gestation so had quite a hard time.
my membranes ruptured, after 3 days he was born naturally, I had had 3 kids before but with this one my labour was very long and painful.
my 5th dc was born at 38 weeks and the labour was fairly quick and easy.
So honestly you can never tell whether the labour is gonna be harder or easier and whether the pregnancy is going to last longer or not.

busyDays Mon 05-May-14 06:54:07

Ds was born at 33 weeks and I had a pretty long and hard labour with him. My contractions were quite far apart and it took ages. I think I was at the pushing stage for something like an hour. When he was finally born I didn't have a tear as such just a very small scratch that didn't need stitches.

Next time around dd arrived on her due date and was a much bigger baby. The labour was pretty quick and I only had to push for about 3 contractions before she was out. I think the actual pushing bit did hurt more. The pain was more intense but lasted for a much shorter time. I also had a tear that needed stitching. Even so, if I had to do it again I would pick the second labour any day as it was faster, there was less fear involved having done it before and overall it was just an easier experience.

FeelingIrie Mon 05-May-14 07:07:56

Hi OP

I just had my first baby a couple of weeks ago. She had IUGR (restricted growth) so decision was made to deliver at 36 wks. Consultant recommended an elective section as we knew she was only about 4lbs and he said that small babies struggle with vaginal births as they get tired a lot quicker.

So I guess my thought would be, you delivered such a small baby vaginally first time around, the bigger baby this time should be easier to deliver - he/she will be more equipped for it hopefully and your body has done it before. Hope that helps!

Good luck x

addictedtosugar Mon 05-May-14 07:17:49

I've also heard that in some ways its easier to push out a larger (within reason) baby, as there is more to push against.

Hope you have an easy pregnancy and birth.

Thank you so much for your replies ladies, I'm feeling better already from reading your responses. I'm under a consultant but seeing a midwife between consultant appointments at 25 weeks so I'll have a chat with her about it too. Being pregnant again has made me realise that I haven't fully recovered from the trauma I went through last time, it's opened up some painful feelings that I'd pushed aside for the last two years. Hopefully things will be different this time and hopefully I'll manage another vaginal birth without too much difficulty.

For those of you who are currently pregnant or hoping for more DC, I wish you all the very best. Pregnancy is a frightening road to go down when things have gone wrong in the past. xx

byanothername Mon 05-May-14 11:51:45

ah GoldenDaoffodil I've been in your exact shoes.
dc1 was born suddenly at 32 weeks - the natural birth itself was fine, the aftermath and special care unit was traumatic. Particularly being separated from my newborn in an incubator.
I've just had dc2 who arrived naturally at 40+ weeks and who was huge - over 10lb and more than twice the size of my first!
my second pregnancy was quite worrying as I feared another premmie arrival and like you had a lot of trauma there to process. what helped me was really talking it through with the medical team and doing all I could to de-stress in the final trimester (reflexology, slowing down at work etc etc).
when it came to birthing my massive dc2, the main difference was the pushing phase, as others have said. It was longer and I felt it more! BUT, knowing that I was so upset at not having been able to hold my first, the midwife put dc2 straight onto my chest and left us alone to bond . This was an amazing difference to seeing my first whisked away by nurses before I'd even glimpsed her! Srcond time round, it was both wonderful and left me tearful for what my first had missed.. I hope you're able to talk it through with the medical staff and get some support.
I found having a second was both healing and also allowed me to process some of the trauma of the first.. Really good luck. The message boards on premmie organisation Bliss are good on this

byanothername Mon 05-May-14 11:55:25

also, if it helps - i had episiotomy for first baby who was premmie and small, and nothing (except a tiny, tiny graze) for massive second baby...

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