The second trimester tends to be the favorite period for many expecting moms. During weeks 13 to 27 of your pregnancy, symptoms like morning sickness should be subsiding. By this point, you have adjusted to many of the lifestyle changes to have a healthy pregnancy. Your moods and emotions should be evening out, and overall you should feel like you have more energy. After all of the last trimester’s internal changes, the second trimester brings many physical changes. Your belly will start showing, and you will be able to feel your baby kicking. Get an overview of everything you can expect during the second trimester of your pregnancy. Learn about the physical changes you can expect, how your baby is growing, what you can expect at prenatal appointments, and some of the to-do items to tackle this trimester.
For a week by week breakdown of what is going on with you and your baby, check out the 40 Weeks podcast.
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Second Trimester Overview
The second trimester spans weeks thirteen to twenty-seven and is sometimes thought of as the golden trimester. Morning sickness should be subsiding, and your moods should be evening out a bit. At this point, you have adjusted to any significant lifestyle changes. Fatigue should lessen, and you will feel like you have more energy. During this trimester, your belly will start showing, and you will feel your baby move. Overall, you should be feeling better and getting more excited to become a parent.
To-Do Items for the Second Trimester
The second trimester is the perfect time to take advantage of feeling like you have more energy and get things done. I know it can be overwhelming to think about all the things you need to do to prep for birth and having a newborn. By knocking out some big items in the second trimester, you can set yourself up to relax and be more prepared for the final months before your baby arrives.
With fatigue letting up in the second trimester, you should feel less wiped out at the end of the day. Grabbing a book or putting on headphones is a great way to relax before bed.
One book I recommend is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. This book covers everything and will have you so prepared for breastfeeding your baby. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is excellent if you are planning a birth without pain medication or interventions. If you are looking for more of a spiritual book, I recommend Ancient Map for a Modern Birth. The Your Birth Plan book is a step-by-step guide to creating your birth plan. There are short chapters on all of your options with the evidence, pros, and cons. There are also sample birth plans for everything from home birth to a cesarean. Plus, a template you can download and customize.
If you prefer to listen over reading, Audible has almost all books available, and you can start with a free trial. If you are looking for a podcast with information on a specific topic, take advantage of the Pregnancy Podcast website’s search. There is also an app for the podcast on the Apple app store or Google Play store, and the app has a great search function to look for episodes on a specific topic.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
This is a great time to start looking into your maternity and paternity leave options and plan for childcare if you plan to return to work. If you have the luxury not to work and be home with your new baby, please plan on your partner taking some time off. If you or your partner are self-employed, you can also do some prep now to take some time off when your baby arrives. I suggest not putting off this planning until the last minute.
Building You Baby Registry
You can start building your baby registry if you are choosing to do that. Amazon is a great place to do this, especially if you have friends and family who don’t live nearby.
Keep Stress Down
If you feel like you have a lot to do, don’t stress. Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Remember that you have a lot of time to tackle everything you want to do and get answers to your questions. Whether you feel on top of everything or overwhelmed, meditation is an excellent tool during pregnancy. There is an excellent podcast called Meditation Mama that offers short guided meditations for pregnant mothers. Each of these is less than 20 minutes. All meditations are designed to help support women during the journey of pregnancy. I encourage you to check out that podcast.
Common Second Trimester Symptoms
Many symptoms can pop up in the second trimester. Some of these are a continuation of symptoms you experienced in the first twelve weeks. Others are new and can be exciting, like feeling your baby move. Or they can bring on new challenges or inconveniences.
Physical Changes in the Second Trimester
In the first trimester, it seems like most of the changes are emotional, and in the second, it seems like your body physically catches up. Women vary all over the spectrum on how they feel about their body image during pregnancy. Some mothers feel unattractive, while others love their new curves and growing belly. However you feel it is on the spectrum of normal.
Your breasts go through a lot of changes during pregnancy. If you had tender breasts in the first trimester, they should start feeling better. However, you can still expect them to keep growing. As your body prepares to produce milk, more fat will accumulate in your breasts. You may need to go up a bra size. Remember that your breasts are still growing, and it may be better to hold off on stocking up on bras until later in your pregnancy.
Once you start the second trimester, get ready for your baby bump. As your little one grows and your uterus expands, you should have a baby bump making an appearance at the beginning of the second trimester. You will hit a point when you can’t fit into your favorite jeans anymore. Get comfortable. You will feel so much better in comfortable clothes. You can do some tricks to make your clothes fit a little bit longer, but it is worth it to get some comfy maternity pieces in your wardrobe. There is a lot of high-end maternity wear, but you can update your wardrobe on a budget. You may be fortunate to get clothes from a friend who was pregnant or find items second hand. You do not need to spend a fortune to get some maternity clothes in your wardrobe.
Are you getting a stripe down the center of your belly? This is called a linea nigra and is very common. Don’t worry; it will fade after you have the baby. Increases in your hormones can cause changes in your skin. Some women also get dark patches on their face, which results from your body, increasing the production of melanin in your skin. Sun exposure can make this more noticeable so wear a hat or sunscreen to minimize the sun on your face.
Stretch marks are probably one of the most disliked side effects of pregnancy. These can show up in your belly, breasts, your butt, and even your thighs. Rapid stretching of the skin fibers, hormonal changes, and genetic factors all contribute to stretch marks. This is not a new thing. The Greeks and Romans used olive oil to try and prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Some moms swear by various creams and oils. Unfortunately, no research shows any cream, oil, or magic potion that effectively prevents stretch marks. If you do get stretch marks, your skin may be itchy, and keeping your skin moisturized can help with this. Don’t panic if stretch marks show up. They might look pronounced now, but they will fade, and some treatments can minimize their appearance after you have your baby.
Stuffy Nose and Pregnancy Rhinitis
You may experience a stuffy nose during your pregnancy. This is known as pregnancy rhinitis. Your increased circulation in your mucus membranes causes your nose and airway to swell. The result is you may be pretty congested, you could be snoring in your sleep, and maybe even get an occasional nosebleed.
Your increased blood circulation can also make your gums softer and cause them to bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. You can try switching to a softer toothbrush and see if that helps. Please keep up your dental hygiene during pregnancy and take good care of your teeth and gums while you are expecting.
You may get leg cramps, which almost always seem to happen in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. You can try stretching your calves before bed. Downward dog is an excellent stretch for this. Also, make sure you stay hydrated. If you are getting bothersome leg cramps, drink water and try a warm bath, and that may give you some relief.
Increased Vaginal Discharge
You might be noticing that you have a lot of discharge, and this is normal. It is usually white and acidic, which is thought to help suppress yeast and bacteria growth. You can always use a thin panty liner if this bothers you. Please check in with your care provider if it is green or yellow, has a strong odor, or if you are having pain, soreness, or itching. Those are signs that you could have a vaginal infection.
More Frequent Urination
All of your hormone changes can slow down the flow of urine, and as your uterus grows, it can put more pressure on your bladder. Not only does this increase how frequently you have to go to the bathroom, but it also increases your risk of bladder and kidney infections. Be sure to get in touch with your health care provider if you notice pain when you urinate or have a fever or backache. If you do have a urinary or kidney infection, you want to treat it right away to avoid any increase in risks of pregnancy complications.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
You may experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These are usually mild and just your body getting prepared for real contractions when you go into labor. You may want to get in touch with your care provider if they are really painful or intense, but otherwise, they are normal. It can be a little concerning to feel Braxton Hicks contractions. There is a trick to differentiating these from real labor contractions. True contractions will get longer, stronger, and closer together, and Braxton Hicks contractions will not.
Your appointments with your doctor or midwife will focus on how your baby is growing. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, and you should be asking your care provider any questions you have. Check out this article for five tips to make the most out of every prenatal appointment.
You will have some options for prenatal testing. Make sure you know what the test involves before opting in. There are episodes that dive into both invasive and non-invasive testing. One key thing to keep in mind is the difference between a diagnostic test and a screening test. A screening test only assesses your risk; it doesn’t diagnose anything. To know anything for sure, you need a diagnostic test. While all of the tests seem routine, like everything, you have choices. If you have any questions about any test, don’t hesitate to ask. Don’t panic if results come back less than ideal, especially on a screening test. You should also know that each test comes with a false positive rate, and nothing is ever 100% accurate. Testing can be confusing and nerve-racking.
Your Growing Baby
Now that we have covered most of everything you may be going through let’s talk about your baby. If something were to happen and you went into labor early, your baby has a very high chance of survival after about week 23. Modern medicine is amazing. But hold tight because you want that little one to hold off until your baby is ready around 40 weeks.
Your little one is growing so much this trimester. Your baby’s skeleton and bones are developing. Fat stores begin to develop under your baby’s skin, and this will provide energy and help keep your baby warm after birth. A fine, down-like hair called lanugo completely covers your little one. Lanugo helps hold the vernix caseosa; this is kind of greasy and cheese-like. This coating protects their delicate skin from abrasions and hardening from exposure to the amniotic fluid. They also have hair on their head and eyebrows. Your baby’s lungs and nervous system are continuing to mature, fingerprints and footprints are forming.
Finding Out Your Baby’s Sex
If you are carrying a boy, the testes are descending from the abdomen. If you are having a girl, the uterus and ovaries are in place. Up until recently, we thought girls were born with a lifetime supply of eggs. While they are born with a massive number of eggs, it turns out our bodies will produce more eggs later. Our understanding of this stuff is constantly evolving.
During this trimester, you will get to find out the sex of your baby. This discovery is usually during the anatomy scan ultrasound. Some parents will opt to limit ultrasounds. The anatomy scan is typical, even if you choose to restrict ultrasounds. If you are thinking about doing a 3D or 4D ultrasound, hearing the evidence might have you rethinking that.
Feeling Your Baby Move
As your baby becomes more active, their movements become more coordinated. Your baby is regularly sleeping and waking, they have rapid eye movements, and they are making sucking motions with their mouth and can swallow. Sometime around week 20, you will be able to feel your baby kick and move around. If this is not your first pregnancy, you may even begin to feel kicks sooner. This is a super exciting experience for your partner. If your baby is moving around, tell your partner to put a hand on your belly so they can feel it too.
You should also talk to your baby. This may seem a little silly at first, but they can hear and respond to familiar sounds, such as your voice, with movement. If your partner is also talking to your little one, your baby will also recognize their voice when they are born.
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