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2nd Trimester Pregnancy

How Long Is the Second Trimester?

The second trimester runs from 14 to 27 weeks, or months 4, 5, and 6 of pregnancy, lasting 14 weeks or approximately 3 and a half months. It’s the middle phase of pregnancy, when you may start to see your “baby bump” and feel your baby move for the first time.

What to expect:

As you enter your second trimester of pregnancy, the morning sickness and fatigue you may have felt during the last 3 months should fade.

The second trimester is, for many women, the easiest 3 months of pregnancy and often brings a renewed sense of well-being. Take the time now, while you are feeling better and your energy is up, to start planning for your baby’s arrival.

During the second trimester, your baby is growing quickly. Between your 18th and 22nd week of pregnancy you’ll have an ultrasound so your Midwife can see how your baby is progressing. You also can learn the sex of your baby unless you would rather be surprised. And if you are having twins, you might find that out during this trimester.

 

Your body

During the second trimester of pregnancy, you might experience physical changes, including:

Growing belly and breasts. As your uterus expands to make room for the baby, your belly grows. Your breasts will also gradually continue to increase in size. A supportive bra with wide straps or a sports bra is necessary.

Braxton Hicks contractions. You might feel these mild, irregular contractions as a slight tightness in your abdomen. They are more likely to occur in the afternoon or evening, after physical activity or after sex. Contact your Midwife if the contractions become regular and steadily increase in strength. This could be a sign of preterm labor. If you experience pain or cramping in your groin area, chances are it is due to round ligament pain/ Braxton Hicks contractions. As the uterus grows, the ligaments that hold it in place in your abdomen stretch, and this can cause pain.

Skin changes. Hormonal changes during pregnancy stimulate an increase in pigment-bearing cells (melanin) in your skin. As a result, you might notice brown patches on your face, darker nipples and you might also see a dark line from your pubic region to your belly button. These skin changes are common and usually fade after delivery. Sun exposure can aggravate the issue – so when you are outdoors, use sunscreen. You might also notice the beginning of stretch marks. Although stretch marks cannot be prevented, most eventually fade in intensity.

Leg cramps. Some moms-to-be experience lower leg cramps usually experienced during night-time. You can help keep these cramps at bay by stretching before bed, taking a warm shower or bath, and staying hydrated.

Lower back pain. As you gain weight and your uterus expands, your center of gravity and posture can change, putting more pressure on your back. Exercise and stretching may help relieve some of the discomfort.

Constipation. Hormonal activity and your growing baby pushing against your intestines can lead to constipation. Although this condition can be uncomfortable, drinking more water and eating more fiber can help get things moving.

“Pregnancy brain.” Although experts cannot yet confirm whether pregnancy has an impact on your mental awareness or memory, you may feel more scatter-brained than usual.

Thicker hair. During pregnancy, many moms-to-be find that their hair gets thicker and might grow faster than usual. It is one of the physical changes you may really enjoy this trimester!

Sinus congestion. You may experience a stuffy nose, making it harder to breath due to the higher level of progesterone, which increases circulation to the mucous membranes of the nose, causing them to swell. This condition is often called “pregnancy allergy,” and unfortunately there is not much you can do to make it go away. Saline drops or a saline rinse can help relieve congestion. Also, drink plenty of fluids and dab Vaseline around the edges of your nostrils to help moisten skin.

Dental issues. Pregnancy can cause your gums to become more sensitive to flossing and brushing, resulting in minor bleeding. Rinsing with salt water and switching to a softer toothbrush can decrease irritation.

Dizziness. If you are having trouble with dizziness, drink plenty of fluids, avoid standing for lengthy periods, and move slowly when you stand up or change position. Your body is experiencing changes in circulation, including less blood flow to your upper body and head.

Vaginal discharge. You might notice a sticky, clear or white vaginal discharge. This is normal. Contact your Midwife if the discharge becomes strong smelling, unusual in colour, or if it is accompanied by pain, soreness or itching in your vaginal area. This could indicate a vaginal infection.

Urinary tract infections. These infections are common during pregnancy. Contact your Midwife if you have a strong urge to pee that cannot be delayed, sharp pain when you pee, pee that is cloudy or has a strong smell or you have a fever or backache. Left untreated, urinary tract infections can become severe and result in a kidney infection.

Haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids are swollen blue or purple veins that form around the anus. These veins may enlarge during pregnancy, because extra blood is flowing through them and there is increased pressure on them from the growing uterus. To relieve them, try sitting in a warm tub. Ask your Midwife whether you can use an over-the-counter haemorrhoid ointment.

Weight gain. Morning sickness usually diminishes by the end of the first trimester. Although food is looking much more appetizing, be aware of how much you are eating. You only need about an extra 300 to 500 calories a day during the second trimester, and you should be gaining about 1/2 kg a week.

 

Emergency Symptoms

Any of these symptoms could be a sign that something is wrong with your pregnancy. Do not wait for your antenatal visit to talk about it. Call your Midwife right away if you have:

  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bleeding
  • Severe dizziness
  • Rapid weight gain (more than 3kg per month) or too little weight gain (less than 4.5kg at 20 weeks into the pregnancy)
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • A lot of sweating

 

Your emotions. During the second trimester, you might feel less tired and more up to the challenge of preparing for your baby.

Sleeping position

Although some experts recommend lying on your left side to help improve your circulation, they also say that you should not worry about rolling onto your back or right side while asleep. If you’re struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position as your bump grows, consider buying a pregnancy pillow.

Prenatal care

During the second trimester, your prenatal appointments will focus on your baby’s growth and detecting any health problems. Your Midwife will begin by checking your weight and blood pressure. She might measure the size of your uterus by checking your fundal height — the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus (fundus).

At this stage, the highlight of your prenatal visits might be listening to your baby’s heartbeat. At 20 to 22 weeks, you will go for an ultrasound at which time the Sonographer will be able to confirm your baby’s sex — if you choose.

Be sure to mention any signs or symptoms that concern you, to your Midwife.

 

Baby’s Growth in the Second Trimester

During your second trimester, your baby grows up to 1.5kg in weight and up to 35cm in length. Their brain and other organs grow and develop a great deal. Their heart moves 100 pints of blood a day. Their lungs are fully formed but not quite ready to breathe. And your baby can kick, move, turn around in your womb, swallow, suck, and hear your voice.

Your baby’s eyes and ears move into the correct positions on its head. Their eyelids can open and shut. The baby sleeps and wakes up in a normal cycle. They grow eyelashes and eyebrows.

Your baby grows fingernails and toenails. The tiny fingers and toes separate. They develop distinct fingerprints and toe prints.

Hair grows on your baby’s head. They also sprout downy, fine hair all over called the lanugo. Their body is encased in a creamy, white, protective coating called the vernix caseosa, which is eventually absorbed into their skin.

Your baby’s placenta is also fully developed by this time. The placenta is an organ that gives your fetus oxygen and nutrients. It also removes waste. In the second trimester, your fetus also begins to build up fat on its body.

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