On the “Wild Card” Third Births

There is a saying in the birth community that third babies are a “wild card”, meaning unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen, no matter what happened in the previous two births, so you need to be prepared.

wild card birthWe do know that first births tend to be long, though not ALWAYS the case, it is typical. What happens is that second births are typically so much faster than firsts that everyone kind of expects thirds to be even faster (even experienced providers sometimes!), but this usually isn’t the case. Third babies, much like seconds, can mean lots of pre-labor cramping and once they get really strong can be quick, but the major thing is letting it be a new birth and not having expectations. It’s the human mind that throws people and providers for a loop in birth more than the birth itself.

Third births are unpredictable in the way that all births are unpredictable. Each pregnancy is a new baby, a changed body, and we never can know for sure how things are going to be. Will your birth start the same way as last time or differently? Will you birth at the same gestational age or earlier? Or later? We don’t know and can’t predict in the way that we NEVER know, but there is nothing especially “wild” or unpredictable about third babies compared to any other birth.

Why you need good support for your third birth isn’t because it necessarily will be “wild”, but because it is birth. The kind of people you have attending you need to be capable of setting their expectations aside about what a third birth “should” look like, and use the same patience, calm, quiet, and non-interference that they should be using at any other birth. People’s minds like to make up all kinds of stories, and you want the people around you to be able to keep their own minds and any other attendants’ minds in check and prevent hallucinating that something “wild” is happening or not working when in fact, everything is perfectly fine.

In short, it’s not “third births” that are wild, but the imaginations of the people who attend them. Just like with any birth, focus on keeping yourself healthy and nourished, and make sure your attendants know how to be patient and undisruptive at a birth, and allow yourself to enjoy the fact that each birth is an entirely new experience to discover.

Here’s a great story of a third birth of a past client:

Each of my births was unique and my third proved to be my most challenging. I expected to feel some thread of familiarity because, well damnit I’ve done it twice before! My first birth was 6 hrs 45 minutes, my second a rocking 2 hrs, and my third 12 hours. Each baby truly does have their own plans and needs.

I woke up and had bloody show at 8 am (this was a first for me). I called my birth team and had my first wave at 8:30 am. I was able to eat breakfast and shower. Slowly over the morning my birth team arrived and Ian set up the birth pool. I put on my necklace made during my Mother Blessing and tried to listen to my Hypnobabies deepening track. As the waves picked up I found myself crying ugly snotty tears. My Doula and Birth Attendant were my cheerleaders and foundation of calm. I could not have done it without their words and calm presence. All I heard was “you got this, what you are feeling is normal, your baby is so smart and knows how to be born.”

… It was not the birth I expected, and exactly the birth Asher and I needed. I am so grateful I hired my birth team as they were the exact support we needed to have a peaceful, loving, home water birth.  READ FULL STORY.

If you are looking for support for an undisturbed birth in Greater Vancouver, BC, please feel free to contact me:

Jessica Austin | home birth services in Vancouver, BC | jessica@birthtakesavillage.com


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