Second Trimester of Pregnancy: What to Expect
Things settle down a little in the second trimester of pregnancy but this is still a time to pay attention to what is happening and be informed. Week by week, pregnancy continues to take on new dimensions as the baby continues to develop.
While the first trimester of pregnancy may be a time of mixed feelings, a time in which the excitement of a new baby is mixed with the physical and emotional changes of a new mother, the second trimester of pregnancy is a time of taking stock of what is to come.
After the heady days of the first trimester that move from finding out you are pregnant to the often dramatic physical changes and symptoms that come with this phase, the second trimester of pregnancy brings the more pronounced development of the baby. Many women will begin to outwardly show that they are pregnant.
What can you expect during the second trimester of pregnancy? What does the second trimester of pregnancy entail? What do you need to know about the growth of your baby during the second trimester of pregnancy? This guide will give you the information necessary to be informed as you enter the second trimester of pregnancy.
What is the second trimester?
The second trimester of pregnancy is the stage between 14 -27 weeks. This is an extremely busy time for the development of your baby. By week eighteen your baby takes on some real weight, several ounces. A developing baby at this point can yawn and hiccup. By week 21 you may feel the newly developed and coordinated arms and legs moving around and even give you a kick. By the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby can weigh as much as two pounds.
As we said, a lot of things happen during the second trimester of pregnancy because this is a time of major fetal development. Because the baby is going through so much change, your body will respond in kind, and you will see some noticeable symptoms. For many women, things like nausea and fatigue lessen during the second trimester, and they begin to enjoy their pregnancy but remember that your body and the body of the baby are rapidly developing. Your uterus, for example, continues to expand to accommodate the developing baby, and this will lead to outward symptoms.
Some of the common changes and symptoms during the second trimester include:
Braxton Hicks contractions
You may feel mild but irregular contractions in the form of a slight tightness in your belly. Braxton Hicks are more common in the afternoons and evenings. They are also common after sex. Some women describe these as feeling like mild menstrual cramps. These are normal but if they persist you should contact your doctor to make sure they are a sign of premature labor.
Pregnancy causes major hormone changes, and it increases the amount of blood in your body. This combination of things can cause your mucous membranes to swell which can lead to stuffiness, congestion, and even nosebleeds. Saline drops and saline rinses are helpful for these symptoms. Make sure you stay hydrated. Using a humidifier can also help alleviate these symptoms.
Issues with your teeth
During the second trimester, your gums may become more sensitive. You may see some minor bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth. Rinse with warm salt water and use a soft bristle brush to reduce this problem. Also, vomiting as a result of “morning sickness” can weaken the enamel of your teeth leading to tooth decay.
Dizziness and lightheadedness
The major changes to your circulation may make you dizzy or light-headed. Make sure you stay properly hydrated and avoid standing for long periods. Stand up slowly or when you change positions. If you need to lie down, make sure you lay on your side.
Leg cramps are common during the second trimester. Unfortunately, these often hit at night. To prevent leg cramps, try stretching your calf muscles before bed. Staying physically active can help alleviate cramps. Drink plenty of fluids. Hot showers and baths also help with leg cramps.
A sticky clear or white vaginal discharge is normal during the second trimester of pregnancy. If you notice a strong odor or if the discharge has an unusual color contact your doctor. Also, call your doctor if this discharge is accompanied by pain or discomfort to make sure you do not have a vaginal infection.
Urinary tract infections
Unfortunately, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common during pregnancy. You should call your doctor if you experience pain while urinating, if you have difficulty urinating, or if your urine is cloudy or has a strong smell. You want to make sure a urinary tract infection has not led to a kidney infection.
Other symptoms to expect include:
- Movement of the baby, including kicks and pokes
- Body aches
- Increased appetite
These are all normal symptoms during the second trimester of pregnancy. You should always stay in contact with your doctor to discuss these symptoms just to make sure everything is within the normal range.
In all likelihood, you will sail through your second trimester without a hitch, and the final trimester will be a breeze.
However, there are some symptoms to look for that require immediate attention. These include:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Severe abdominal pain
- A fever over 101.5 F
Also, pay attention to symptoms of gestational diabetes. These include extreme thirst, frequent and heavy urination, extreme fatigue, and snoring. Gestational diabetes is a reason for concern, but it can be controlled by eating healthy foods and exercising. Some medications can control gestational diabetes.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience sudden weight gain, severe swelling of the face and hands, and changes in your vision. These are symptoms of preeclampsia, a complication in which high blood pressure can lead to damage to other organs.
Changes during the second trimester
Larger belly and breasts
During the second trimester, your uterus continues to expand to accommodate your growing baby. At the same time, your breasts will likely expand. These changes in your breasts are from enlarging milk glands and deposits of fat as your body prepares to breastfeed your baby.
Your ankles and hands may swell. Fluid retention is common during pregnancy.
The hormone changes during pregnancy can stimulate melanocytes in your skin. These are the cells that contain skin pigment. As a result, you may notice dark patches on your face. You may also see a dark line down your belly. This is called a linea nigra. These are quite common, and they usually fade after you have your baby. You can reduce the severity of these changes by avoiding too much sunlight and by using sunscreen. Stretch marks may also appear on your breasts, belly, buttocks, and thighs. These can be reddish-brown, black, silver, or purple. These marks will also likely fade after delivery.
Baby’s growth during the second trimester
Your baby continues to grow during the second trimester of pregnancy. There are exciting changes that happen at this time.
Hair, skin, and nails begin to grow at around 16 weeks
By 22 weeks your baby has eyelashes and eyebrows. It is during this time that a developing baby grows a coat of hair on their skin. This keeps the baby warm until the third trimester.
The digestive system develops
By the end of the first trimester, your baby has a fully developed digestive system. This means your baby begins to suck and swallow during the second trimester. There is evidence that a developing baby can actually taste the foods you eat during pregnancy and this has an effect on food preferences later in life. The baby’s system of waste elimination is also working. While your baby gets nutrition from the placenta, your baby is swallowing, and that means your baby is peeing.
Moving into the second trimester the baby’s ears and eyes are aligning properly. This means your baby can see, hear, and smell. During the second trimester, your baby continually opens and closes his or her eyes.
The early heartbeats we hear are from the spontaneous beating of the heart cells. By the second trimester, the heart is synchronized with and controlled by the brain. By week 25 your baby has a system of capillaries that carry oxygenated to blood through his or her body.
Second Trimester of Pregnancy To-Do List
With so many changes for you and your baby, you will want to make a plan for how to progress through the second trimester. Here are some suggestions for a to-do list.
Make appointments for prenatal tests
Women typically see either their OB/GYN or their midwife once every four weeks just to monitor for any complications as they may arise. During the second trimester, you may be screened for gestational diabetes. Some women opt for an amniocentesis to test for Down Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. This is also a time when you may get an ultrasound and see your baby.
Start making final decisions about your labor
This is the time to make decisions regarding a doula or professional labor coach. Not everyone goes this route, and you will want to weigh your options after looking into these possibilities. But you do want to have this in order by the time you reach your third trimester.
Childbirth classes differ depending on how you want to proceed through your pregnancy. The second trimester is the time to narrow your options and make some decisions. Some doctors work with groups that offer childbirth classes. If you are using a midwife, they will likely offer childbirth classes. You can research this topic with the International Childbirth Education Association.
Do some financial planning
You are getting close to having an addition to your family. The second trimester is a great time to start thinking about how your baby is going to affect things like your tax status. This is also a good time to start thinking about savings accounts for your child. Holidays, birthdays, and even college come faster than you think.
Other things to do:
- Pick out maternity outfits
- Shop for baby clothes
- Start thinking about names
- Moisturize your belly for after delivery
Second Trimester of Pregnancy FAQs
What is the second trimester of pregnancy?
The second trimester of pregnancy is the stage between 14 -27 weeks.
What are some signs and symptoms of the second trimester?
First, you will begin to show as your uterus expands for your growing baby but you will also likely experience things like fatigue and dizziness, frequent urination, and Braxton Hicks Contractions. You may also begin to feel your baby kick.
Are there any serious issues to look out for during the second trimester of pregnancy?
You will want to be tested for gestational diabetes. Also, watch for signs of preeclampsia.
What happens with the baby during the second trimester?
Your baby develops a fully functioning digestive system, heart, brain, sense, and moving arms and legs.
The second trimester of pregnancy ushers in even more exciting developments for you and your baby. This is a big phase in your pregnancy as the fetus begins to look and act like a baby. Eyes, ears, and noses begin to work, and your baby will start to give you little kicks and pokes.
The second trimester is also a time to take things seriously. With so much development going on inside, your body will be going through many things as well. The majority of symptoms that come with the second trimester are perfectly normal and generally not that bad as the first trimester of pregnancy. Some things, like nausea, may even go away during this phase of things.
You need to be aware of the changes going on in your body. There are things to look out for such as blood pressure spikes and signs of gestational diabetes. With proper attention, you will be fine but, like the entirety of your pregnancy, you want to be informed and prepared.
The second trimester is just as exciting as the first. With information on your side, you will be prepared for anything.