For many expectant mothers, the second trimester is the easiest three months of pregnancy. It is full of new and exciting milestones for you and your baby.
However, despite leaving behind morning sickness and food aversions, some new pregnancy symptoms will begin to take their place.
When does the second trimester start?
A pregnancy is divided into three stages. These are called trimesters. Each trimester has its own major milestones. The first trimester is the most fragile period. It’s when all major organs and systems are formed. Most birth defects and miscarriages happen during the first trimester. In the second and third trimester, the fetus is fully formed and grows and matures rapidly. The trimesters are divided as follows:
- First trimester is 0 to 12 weeks.
- Second trimester is 13 to 28 weeks.
- Third trimester is 29 to 40 weeks.
Some experts use the 42-weeks method divided by three trimesters:
- The first trimester is 0 to 12 weeks.
- The second trimester is 13 to 27 weeks.
- The third trimester is 28 to 42 weeks.
Changes in your body to expect
1. Energy boost
Now that you’re done with the exhausting work of building a placenta, you are finally feeling like you can tackle the day.
2. Weight gain
In your second trimester, you only need about an extra 300 to 500 calories each day, and should be gaining about one-half to 1 pound each week. If you are overweight before pregnancy, even less weight gain is recommended.
Enjoy your returning food freedom, but remember to continue to make healthy choices. It is true that your baby eats what you eat and also shows a preference to these foods once he or she is older.
Backaches are also common from baby growth and increased weight. Back supports, a warm bath and massage can be beneficial in easing some of the pain.
Related: Find an obstetrician near you
Heartburn is caused by increased progesterone, which leads to muscle relaxation. Your second trimester is the time to take that flame by certain menu items literally. As your uterus grows and pregnancy hormones slow down your digestive tract, your favorite foods could now be a source of pain.
You can prevent this by eating several small meals a day in place of three large meals. Eating foods such as whole grains and vegetables and staying away from citrus-rich fruits, spicy entrees and fried foods will also help. Make sure to sit upright while eating, and after eating, remain in an upright position. In addition, limit your water intake right before bedtime. Tums are OK to take, but talk to your doctor about medications if you still can’t find relief.
In this stage you now have maximum blood flow to your mucus membranes, causing your sinuses to swell. This can result in nighttime snoring, feeling plugged up and even nose bleeds. Though it is wise to stay away from decongestants and antihistamines, you can use things such as nasal saline spray, nose strips and a humidifier to make breathing more comfortable.
5. Placenta brain
Start making lists, and prepare to walk into a room and have no idea why you’re there or what you needed. It is important not to let this newfound absentmindedness cause you anxiety. Yoga or meditation are great ways to bring your mind back to the present and sharpen your focus.
6. Pregnancy glow
During your second trimester, you will notice that your hair is shiny, your skin is radiant and your nails are strong. However, there are some skin changes that you may not welcome quite as much. Stretch marks and a dark line down the middle of your growing bump, known as the “Linea Nigra” are beginning to make their appearance as well.
7. Varicose veins
Swollen vessels in your legs and vulva can cause discomfort. You can help prevent these by not standing in one place for too long, elevating your feet when able and wearing compression stockings during the day to maximize blood flow. Swollen, itchy vessels called hemorrhoids could also appear in and outside the rectum due to the increase weight of the uterus and straining from constipation. Prevent these by drinking adequate amounts of water, eating a high-fiber diet and taking a probiotic.
8. Changes in sex drive
This could go either way during your second trimester. Some women will notice an obvious increase in their libido, while others will feel their sex drive decrease as they continue to battle constipation, hormones and weight gain.
9. Baby bump
Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds this trimester, weighing roughly 2 pounds by the end of your sixth month.
Along with this sudden growth comes a common pregnancy discomfort known as round ligament pain. Your uterus is held in your pelvis by two thick ligaments and as you grow those ligaments pull, burn and stretch. This causes sharp shooting pains and aches on either side of your abdomen and down into your groin. Alleviate these pains by kicking your feet up whenever able, taking warm baths, using a belly band for support, avoiding sudden movements and listening to your body during exercise.
10. Feeling baby move
Movements will be random during the beginning of your second trimester, but you will get to know your baby’s routine towards the end.
When to contact your doctor
- Vaginal discharge is normal when it is thin and white. If it is foul-smelling, green or yellowish or causes itching or pain, you should call your doctor.
- Bladder and kidney infections can happen when progesterone causes changes in your bladder. These changes make you more susceptible to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Pain when you urinate, odor to your urine, fever, chills or backache are also signs you should give your doctor a call.
More pregnancy stories
- What to know about eating during pregnancy
- Pregnancy red flags: When you should see your doctor
- Caring for your skin during pregnancy