The second time round for me was SOOOOO much easier. Two reasons:
1) I had a vaginal birth this time round.
2) I'd done all the hard work - learning to breastfeed, handling a baby, learning their hungry/tired/change me cues the first time.
So, number one. Obviously, I could get up and walk right after the birth (although I chose to spend the day lying on the sofa!). I did require stitches and my midwife left the catheter in for 24 hours, so there was some slight discomfort from the stitches, but nothing compared to major abdominal surgery. Mostly it was just being really careful walking up and down stairs the first few days, and I think a lot of it was just the thought of accidentally tearing a stitch that made me so ginger.
Lochia was pretty much gone to alba within about a week and a half, two weeks. I went through about 4 packs of maternity pads, and then i think a pack of regular ones before switching to pantyliners. From memory I was completely free of them by about 4 weeks postpartum. Compare this to the surgical birth, which took me so much longer to stop bleeding from.
Still pretty tired after giving birth. I had a nap on my midwife's orders most afternoons and that was great. Juggling a newborn and a preschooler was hard work. The newbie, once he got the hang of feeding, was easy. The preschooler needed a lot of interaction and energy which I just didn't have, so we did have a few tantrums in the early weeks until he got used to the new balance.
And, number two. Breastfeeding was almost a breeze after our struggle the first time, where I suffered with sharp intense pain for the first 6-8 weeks. E had a mild tongue tie which we didn't treat, but G did not, and I could really feel the difference. I did get sore nipples, as to be expected (Lansinoh helps) but it was only for a few weeks. Although I did get some blocked ducts this time around also, they had stopped by about 7 weeks and I've been fine ever since (8 months currently). I used the compression massage and heat to get rid of them. It was definitely worth the fight to keep breastfeeding. I had so much support the first time and I sought out help whenever I needed it, and it's made this time round so easy in comparison.
Diastasis - yep, still got it. I don't think I ever will get the belly button back as an innie. I'd been doing the Tupler technique after pregnancy 1 and through pregnancy 2, and have been doing Pilates postpartum this time. Although they've all helped, none of them have closed the gap. At 8 months postpartum, I'm at 2 fingers shallow below the navel, 3 1/2 and shallow-medium at navel, and closed above. Almost exactly what it was at 24 months postpartum with baby 1.
This is my belly 3 weeks postpartum, muscles relaxed and not held in as you can see! It shrank so much more quickly than the first time.
And this is me 8 months postpartum. I'm embarrassed to have to do a selfie style mirror photo, but that's all I could fit in today, in the bathroom trying not to wake my sick baby. I've flipped them all so they're actually showing the correct sides. 9 months postpartum baby 1 is on the left, 8 months baby 2 on the right.
Looking pretty similar to me.
And front view.
And blurry navel comparison; 5 weeks pregnant left, 8 months postpartum right. Room for improvement here.