Are the first kids always practice children?

Melanie Brown, also known as Mel B and Scary Spice and now a reality star, has become a mother of three. She and husband Stephen Belafonte welcomed baby girl Madison last month. With this third daughter, Brown says, she's "finally done it right."

What gave her the motherhood boost she felt she was lacking with 12-year-old Phoenix and 4-year-old Angel? Brown says she's lifted up by sharing the whole experience with a partner. The "rocky marriage" to Phoenix's father, dancer Jimmy Gulzar, and sudden split with Angel's father Eddie Murphy (Brown says the relationship "was over halfway through the pregnancy") catapulted her as celebrity single mother just wasn't the same as "having your loving partner who you've created this baby with by your side throughout everything."

Having an attentive partner must make a pretty big difference in parenting, particularly when there are other children to tend to. But can smaller things also have an impact on how raising a second, third, fourth (or more!) child goes? Does having successive children allow you the opportunity to fine-tune, not just who is in your family, but also how you choose to parent?

I have one child, so all of you who parent siblings will have inform me. Although I am sure there are things I would stick with should I have another baby (like using the sling and opting for a crib over co-sleeping), I am humble enough to know there's lessons to be learned from the first time around (potty training and super-long bedtime routines have taught me this well).

Personally, I think I've done a pretty good job so far with this one child (pat, pat). But I also have gotten older, wiser, and taken note of how other mamas have done it in the years since I gave birth. If my son ends up in that "practice child" role, I don't think that would be an insult. I think it'd be part of the process of being saner, happier and less kooky about things like wipe warmers.

Practice may not make perfect parenting, but letting go of the quest for perfection certainly may. At least that's what I tell myself when I feel my ovaries flipping.

Have you shared Mel B's feeling of finally getting motherhood right? What did you change about the way you parent after Child #1?

What would you tell first-time parents it's OK to let go of or adopt if they are thinking about having more kids?

More on Shine: