Your Second Trimester

mom and care provider.jpgWelcome to your second trimester! For many, the second trimester is where the magic happens. It's often when challenging symptoms like nausea and peeing all the time go away (don't worry, the peeing thing shows up again in your third trimester), while you get to experience new and exciting things like feeling baby move and showing off a pregnant belly. Of course, everyone's experience differs and for some, nausea may be a constant throughout.

Like our "Your First Trimester" post, we want to make sure you have the most useful and helpful basic information about your second trimester in a quick and easy-to-read post. So, here goes.

How long is the second trimester?

The second trimester lasts 14 weeks, from pregnancy week 14 to 27. 

What happens to baby in the second trimester?

During this trimester is when your baby really starts to grow and animate. Baby's body and limbs will grow more in proportion to their head. Baby will grow hair. Baby will be able to open eyes and blink, as well as begin to hear, taste, and swallow. The second trimester is also when baby's organs fully develop. By the end of the trimester, baby will be around 14 inches long and start putting on weight to end up around 2 pounds. 

What happens to me in the second trimester?

One of the most notable changes you will experience at some point in the middle of the second trimester is feeling baby's movements. Some people compare the first movements like little bubbles, tapping, or "popping" sensations. As you progress to the end of the second trimester, you'll start to feel more pronounced movements. 

As far as pregnancy symptoms, this trimester often brings renewed energy compared to the depleting fatigue experienced in the first trimester. For many, nausea will also go away or be less intense. You may also experience any of the following in the second trimester: 

  • Heartburn
  • Leg cramps
  • Stuffy nose/congestion
  • Difficulty finding comfort while sleeping 
  • Continued nausea for some
  • Dizziness
  • Stretch marks
  • Heightened sense of smell and taste, along with aversions to food and scents
  • Varicose veins
  • Mild swelling in feet and ankles
  • Round ligament pain (sharp pulling/pain or dull ache in lower abdomen, usually to one side, upon changing positions)
  • Breathlessness 
  • Mood and emotional changes (ups and downs, sometimes suddenly)
  • Reduced or high sex interest -- both are well within "normal"
  • Constipation
  • Physical bodily changes, including enlarged breasts and changes to waistline and abdomen
  • Regular or increased vaginal discharge 

Will I need maternity clothes in the second trimester?

Unlike the first trimester, the second trimester is when people generally start to change shape and expand in size. So yes, in the second trimester is generally when you will feel the need for more room in your clothing. This may include maternity clothes, or it may include larger or baggier normal clothing -- whatever feels most comfortable to you and your size and shape.   

What week will I be able to feel kicks in the second trimester?

When you feel baby move varies widely from person to person, depending on the placement of your placenta and your own size/shape. If this is your second pregnancy, you may feel kicks as early as 16 weeks. If it's your first, you may feel movement closer to 21 weeks or even later. By the end of the second trimester, most people can feel baby move.  

What happens during prenatal care in the second trimester?

During the second trimester, you'll see your care provider once every four weeks, aka once a month. At each appointment, you'll have routine checks of weight, blood pressure, and urine. Your care provider also will listen to your baby's heartbeat and feel your abdomen. From 20 weeks on, your care provider will measure your fundal height (the area from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus), which generally corresponds to baby's size and growth according to the week of pregnancy you're in.

The second trimester also is when you can opt to have a variety of screening and diagnostic tests to determine if your baby has a birth defect. These tests are all optional, and it is important to understand the benefits and risks of each test. Learn more with information from March of Dimes and ACOG

At 20 weeks, your care provider will likely recommend a 20 week anatomy scan ultrasound. This ultrasound, which is your choice to agree to or opt out of, standard screening test that uses ultrasound to look at and measure your baby, your placenta, and your uterus for typical growth and placement. You may also have the opportunity to see your baby's sex during the ultrasound. 

After 24 weeks, your care provider will recommend a gestational diabetes screening to determine if you need to be tested further for gestational diabetes, which would require treatment during pregnancy. The gestational diabetes screening is also known as the glucose test and requires that you drink or otherwise ingest 50 grams of sugar prior to screening. Some people would rather not take the "glucola" drink -- you can talk to your provider about other options. 

During prenatal care in the second trimester, talk often to your doctor or midwife about birth. The earlier you know about your care provider's birth practices, the better. How you're cared for during labor and birth can affect you and your baby for the rest of your lives. Check out our post, "Choosing Your Care Provider" to learn more about how to choose a good care provider. 

What symptoms should I worry about in the second trimester?

Signs that could indicate a complication and require medical attention during the second trimester include:

  • Bleeding
  • Leak or gush of fluid
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Painful urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Swelling or puffiness in hands and/or face
  • Vision changes
  • Excessive nausea and vomiting 
  • Severe headache(s)
  • Leg or calf pain and/or swelling in one leg
  • Constant or frequent intense lower back pain
  • Regular or frequent tightening of abdomen with or without low backache (might make you wonder, are these contractions?)

If you experience any of the above, call your care provider right away. 

Other resources for your second trimester

We've written other helpful resources on the second trimester to help answer some of the questions that pop up during this time. Check it out:

Second Trimester Checklist

Big Changes in Your Second Trimester

Top Nutrients You Need in Pregnancy by Trimester


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