10 Facts About Third Babies: Do They Come Earlier? Plus Tips for Parents

Pregnancy and childbirth are fascinating journeys, filled with twists and surprises. One such question that often pops into expecting parents’ minds, especially those awaiting their third bundle of joy, is: Do third babies come earlier?

Well, you’re in luck! This comprehensive guide will walk you through this intriguing query.

Historical Perspectives on Birth Order

For as long as humans have been having children, tales and anecdotes regarding birth order have been passed down from generation to generation.

Ancient civilizations often attached significant importance to birth order, attributing specific characteristics and destinies based on whether a child was the firstborn, middle, or youngest.

  1. Ancient Civilizations’ Views: In ancient Egypt, for instance, the firstborn male was considered the heir and successor, while in some ancient Greek legends, the third child was prophesized to overthrow the parent. This illustrates the emphasis placed on the significance of birth positions.
  2. Medieval Times: Fast forward to medieval Europe, where birth order determined the inheritance of lands and titles. The firstborn typically inherited the lion’s share, while subsequent children might become knights or join the clergy. Interestingly, there were also beliefs and superstitions that the third child might be luckier or possess unique abilities.
  3. Folktales and Superstitions: Folk stories from various cultures also touch upon the idea of the third child having a unique destiny. Whether it’s the youngest prince setting off on a unique adventure or the third daughter who has a particular wisdom, these tales reflect societal views on birth order.

Scientific Findings on Birth Timings

The question of whether third babies typically arrive earlier than their predecessors has been the subject of several scientific studies. Here’s what the research suggests:

  1. Labor Duration: Some studies indicate that for many women, labor tends to be quicker with subsequent pregnancies. This is attributed to the uterus and birthing canal having gone through the process before, making the labor process more efficient.
  2. Research Variability: It’s essential to note that while some studies suggest a trend of third babies arriving a tad earlier, others do not find significant differences. The variances in these findings might be due to factors like sample size, demographics, and research methodologies.
  3. Statistical Data: Anecdotal data often drives the belief that third babies come earlier. However, statistically, there isn’t enough consistent evidence to declare this as a universal truth. Each pregnancy, regardless of order, is unique.

Factors Influencing Childbirth Timing

Childbirth timing isn’t solely dependent on whether it’s the first, second, or third child. Several factors can influence when a baby decides to make its grand entrance:

  1. Maternal Age: Research has shown that younger mothers might have longer pregnancies compared to older mothers. The reason behind this is still being explored, but age definitely plays a role.
  2. Lifestyle and Health: A mother’s overall health, including her diet, physical activity level, and lifestyle habits (like smoking or alcohol consumption), can influence when she goes into labor.
  3. Previous Pregnancies: If a mother had preterm labor in a previous pregnancy, she might be at a higher risk of experiencing it again.
  4. Medical Conditions: Conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or other pregnancy-related complications can lead to induced labor or scheduled c-sections, impacting the timing of childbirth.
  5. Genetics: Some evidence suggests that the length of pregnancy might run in families. If a woman’s mother or sister had earlier pregnancies, she might be predisposed to the same.

In conclusion, while birth order, especially the arrival of the third child, is surrounded by many tales and beliefs, the timing of childbirth is a complex interplay of various factors.

It’s always fascinating to juxtapose historical beliefs with modern scientific findings, offering a richer understanding of the childbirth process.

Pros and Cons of Earlier Childbirth

Childbirth timing, especially if it happens earlier than the expected due date, has both advantages and challenges. Here’s a look at some of the potential pros and cons:


  1. Shorter Pregnancy Discomfort: The earlier the baby arrives, the less time a mother has to deal with some of the discomforts of the late third trimester, such as back pain, swollen feet, or sleep difficulties.
  2. Faster Labor: Some women who deliver earlier tend to have quicker labors, potentially because the body is more prepared after previous pregnancies.
  3. Less Anxiety: The anticipation and anxiety related to the big day are curtailed if the baby decides to show up sooner.


  1. Prematurity: One of the most significant concerns with earlier childbirth is the risk of the baby being premature. Premature babies might face respiratory difficulties, underdeveloped organs, or require NICU stays.
  2. Unpreparedness: If the baby arrives earlier than expected, parents might find themselves caught off guard, with the nursery not ready or essential baby supplies not yet purchased.
  3. Potential Health Concerns: Earlier deliveries might mean that the baby hasn’t had enough time in the womb to gain the necessary weight, which can sometimes lead to health and developmental concerns.

Preparing for the Third Child

The arrival of a third child is a significant event in a family’s life. Preparing for this new addition requires planning, foresight, and sometimes a fresh approach:

  1. Reusing Baby Items: By the time the third child is on the way, parents often have an arsenal of baby gear. It’s a good time to take stock, see what’s still usable, and what might need replacing.
  2. Involving Siblings: Older siblings can play a crucial role in welcoming the new baby. Engaging them in preparations, like setting up the nursery or picking baby clothes, can make them feel involved and reduce feelings of jealousy or neglect.
  3. Anticipate the Chaos: With two older children and a newborn, things are bound to get hectic. Setting up routines, getting organized, and perhaps seeking additional help, like a babysitter or a family member, can ease the transition.
  4. Refresh Parenting Knowledge: It might have been a while since the last baby. A refresher course on newborn care, breastfeeding, or even the latest in baby safety can be beneficial.

The Psychological Impact on Parents

The birth of the third child can bring about a whirlwind of emotions and psychological impacts on parents:

  1. Joy and Excitement: The addition of a new life into the family always brings immense joy, love, and excitement. There’s the thrill of witnessing first smiles, first steps, and all the ‘firsts’ yet again.
  2. Stress and Overwhelm: Managing the needs of three children, especially if the older ones are still quite young, can be overwhelming. The constant demands and lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and fatigue.
  3. Financial Implications: The realization of the financial aspects of raising three kids – from education to daily needs – can weigh heavily on parents.
  4. Identity Reflection: With the expansion of the family, parents might also introspect on their roles. There might be feelings of losing one’s identity beyond just being a ‘parent’ or fears about not being able to divide attention and love equally among all kids.
  5. Relationship Dynamics: The addition of another child can also impact the couple’s relationship. Finding alone time becomes challenging, and there might be increased arguments about responsibilities and chores. It’s essential for couples to communicate and prioritize their relationship amidst the chaos.

In wrapping up, while the arrival of a third child is a momentous occasion filled with joy, it also brings its set of challenges.

Being aware and prepared for both the pros and cons, understanding the psychological impacts, and making necessary preparations can ensure a smoother transition for the family.

Stories from Real Parents

Every family has its own unique narrative about the arrival of a third child. Here are a few stories that shed light on the diverse experiences of real parents:

  1. The Surprise Third: Rachel, a mother from New York, had twins and thought she was done with expanding her family. But life had other plans. The unexpected arrival of her third child brought chaos, but also an unparalleled joy that she hadn’t anticipated.
  2. Relearning Parenthood: Mark and Susan from Toronto had their first two children in quick succession. With their third child arriving almost a decade later, they found themselves navigating the newborn phase all over again – relearning and rediscovering the joys and challenges of parenting.
  3. The Helping Siblings: Priya, from Mumbai, shares that her older two children, aged 8 and 6, played a pivotal role when their baby sister arrived. From fetching diapers to singing lullabies, the elder siblings became her little helpers, making the transition smoother than anticipated.

Third Time’s the Charm: A Deeper Look

The saying “third time’s the charm” often resonates with parents of three. But what is it about the third child that makes this phrase so fitting?

  1. Experience: By the time the third baby arrives, parents often have a clearer understanding of what to expect. The anxieties that came with the first or even the second child are typically reduced.
  2. Relaxed Approach: Parents often find themselves being more relaxed and less stringent with certain rules or routines. They’ve seen firsthand that kids are resilient, and it’s okay if not everything goes by the book.
  3. Older Siblings: The presence of older siblings can be both a challenge and a blessing. They can play a crucial role in helping, understanding, or even just entertaining the baby, giving parents a slight breather.

The Evolution of Childbirth Education and Resources

Childbirth education has seen a significant evolution over the decades, thanks to scientific advances, cultural shifts, and technological innovations.

  1. Historical Overview: Traditionally, childbirth education was imparted through oral traditions, where elder women in the family or community would guide expectant mothers. Over time, with medical advancements, formal childbirth education classes emerged in hospitals and clinics.
  2. Technological Impact: Today, with the rise of the internet and smartphones, a plethora of resources are available at one’s fingertips. From online birthing classes to forums and apps that track pregnancy progress, technology has revolutionized how parents prepare for childbirth.
  3. Holistic Approaches: Modern childbirth education now often incorporates holistic practices. Prenatal yoga, meditation, and alternative birthing methods, like water births, are being introduced and taught to expectant mothers.
  4. Cultural Sensitivity: As our world becomes more globalized, there’s a growing emphasis on culturally sensitive childbirth education. This ensures that traditions, beliefs, and customs from diverse backgrounds are respected and integrated into the educational process.
  5. Dads and Partners: Earlier, childbirth education was primarily focused on the mother. Today, there’s a growing emphasis on involving partners. Classes for dads-to-be or sessions on partner support during labor are becoming increasingly popular.


The world of childbirth is vast and intricate and the journey of expecting and welcoming a third child is filled with unique challenges and joys.

Hearing stories from real parents can offer solace and camaraderie, while understanding the dynamics of “third time’s the charm” provides a fresh perspective.

Furthermore, as we navigate this journey, it’s heartening to see how childbirth education and resources have evolved, ensuring parents are better prepared than ever before.

While the debate continues on whether third babies come earlier, one thing is certain: every childbirth is unique and miraculous in its own right.

As you journey through your pregnancy, may this guide provide you with insights, comfort, and clarity.



Do third babies usually come earlier than the first two?

This is a common belief, but it’s not universally true. Various factors, including genetics and maternal health, play a role.

Are there risks associated with earlier childbirth?

As with any pregnancy, there are risks. It’s always essential to consult with a healthcare professional.

How can parents prepare for an earlier arrival?

Preparation is key. This involves regular medical check-ups, having essentials ready, and mentally preparing oneself and the family.

Is the labor process different for the third child?

Some women report quicker labor, but it varies from one individual to another.

Can the diet influence childbirth timing?

Diet plays a role in overall maternal health, which can, in turn, influence childbirth timing.

Are there specific exercises recommended for third-time expectant mothers?

Regular exercises like prenatal yoga and walking can be beneficial, but always consult a doctor before starting any regimen.

External Source: Wikipedia – Childbirth



This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.