Special Conditions in Second Pregnancies

If you had a rough go at pregnancy or birth the first time, you may be feeling some anxiety—along with the sweet anticipation that a new pregnancy brings.

What if things get complicated or you develop a condition or complication again? These are valid concerns.

What are the chances that a condition you had in a previous pregnancy will return? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer—it depends on your individual situation and condition.

Talk with your doctor or midwife about your concerns and work with him or her to do what you can to minimize your risks. There’s only so much you can do, though—so don’t blame yourself if something happens again. 

Common Pregnancy Complications: Do They Recur?

  • Gestational diabetes:  The risk of recurrence is about 45%-65%, although you may try to avoid recurrence with some lifestyle changes (including a healthier diet and more exercise).
  • Preeclampsia: Recurrence risk is about 20%, but varies widely based on risk factors.
  • Placenta previa: Recurrence rate is between 4% and 8%.
  • Preterm birth: There is evidence that you have a higher chance of having another preterm baby, especially if your baby came between 24 and 28 weeks. 

From C-section to Vaginal Birth

If you had a cesarean section with a previous birth, you may be exploring the mode of birth for the baby you’re expecting now.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) for the majority of women who’ve had 1 previous cesarean and some who’ve had 2. 

It’s very likely that a vaginal birth is a safe choice for both you and your baby. Talk with your doctor or midwife. Ask about their previous experiences with VBAC patients, what (if any) policies they or the hospital have for people planning VBACs, and more. Evidence shows that about 70%-80% of people who attempt a VBAC (called a TOLAC, or trial of labor after cesarean) will be successful. 

Some families may feel more comfortable with a repeat cesarean. If so, you can also put some things in place to make it the best birth experience for your family. Research the topic of a “gentle” or “family-centered” cesarean and see if it resonates with you.

See also ...


Second and subsequent pregnancies 

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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