The second trimester of pregnancy is a time when many women will feel energised and well. You will become visibly pregnant, but you won’t be so heavy that getting around is difficult. This is also a time of rapid growth and development for your baby, and you may find yourself busy with health checks and planning for the birth.
What is the second trimester?
Trimesters are a helpful way to think about pregnancy because the changes that happen to you and your baby fall into 3 broad categories of early, middle and late pregnancy, as reflected in the first, second and third trimesters.
The second trimester represents the middle part of your pregnancy, from weeks 13 to 26. For many women, one of the best things about this trimester is that nausea might begin to settle.
What happens to your body?
Your body will undergo some major changes during the second trimester. Your uterus will grow, and you may feel some discomfort or aches as uterine ligaments stretch. You will start to feel your skin stretch around your belly and your breasts, which may cause mild itching. Some women get stretch marks in these areas, which tend to fade over time.
Although your baby weighs less than a kilo, your blood volume will increase to meet the demands of all the growth happening inside you, which will mean you will gain some additional weight.
Pregnancy can be a wonderful and exciting time, but it’s also important to expect to feel some occasional days of heightened anxiety or low mood.
Sometimes one or both parents experience difficult emotions during pregnancy, such as being worried about the birth or about coping as a parent.
Feelings of anxiety are not uncommon, and some women will experience symptoms of a condition called anxiety disorder. Antenatal depression is a mood disorder that includes intense emotional changes beyond those you might expect during pregnancy.
If you are worried about feelings of anxiety, low mood or depression, you could:
see your doctor, obstetrician, child health nurse or midwife
phone Pregnancy, Birth and Baby
What happens to the baby
During the second trimester, your baby will grow from being around 7.5cm, and weighing 30 grams in week 13, to around 23cm and 820 grams at week 26.
Your baby will be able to move freely within the amniotic sac in your uterus. By about week 19 (or sooner if this isn’t your first pregnancy), you may feel this movement – as a faint tickling or fluttering. During these 3 months, your baby’s organs will continue to develop and the liver, pancreas and kidneys all start to function. This is also the time when babies might start to suck their thumb. By week 20 your baby can hear sounds, including the sound of your heartbeat, and they are learning to recognise your voice, although the ears are not yet fully formed.
What can you expect at your antenatal visits?
Regular antenatal visits are an important part of staying healthy and making sure your baby is healthy. How often you see your health professional will depend on your personal circumstances, but for many women, visits will be every 4 to 6 weeks.
At all visits during your second trimester, you will have your blood pressure checked, and your hands and feet will also be checked for swelling. You might be weighed, have blood taken for tests and have your urine checked.
Your doctor or midwife will check your abdomen to monitor your baby’s growth and will listen to your baby’s heartbeat. If you didn’t have an ultrasound in your first trimester, you may be offered one at around 18 to 20 weeks.
Before visiting a doctor or midwife, if your baby is still, and you would make sure his safety, you may use a fetal heartbeat monitor pregnancy doppler at home to check your baby’s heart rate. That’s why it is good for you to have a fetal heartbeat monitor pregnancy for belly.
How to stay healthy
Eating well and staying active is as important as ever during pregnancy. It's good for your physical and emotional health, and good for your baby too. Light-to-moderate exercise in pregnancy is usually safe: consider walking, swimming, yoga and stationary cycling in your second trimester. High-impact exercise and activities where there is a risk of falling, getting hurt (especially around the stomach) or overheating are not recommended.
Your choice of food during your pregnancy is also important – but that doesn’t mean ‘eating for two’. What you eat during your pregnancy has been shown to affect how your baby grows as well as your baby’s health later in life.
Things to consider in the second trimester
Parental leave – discuss with your partner and then with your employer:
How will you share the care of your baby with your partner (or other family members)?
When do you plan to start your leave?
When you intend to return to work?
When is a good time to share your pregnancy news with your employer?
Will your role at work change after your baby is born?
Ask your midwife or doctor about antenatal education available in your area.
Consider going to classes together with your birthing partner – not only will you learn a lot about how to prepare for labour, you’ll meet people who will share their experience of becoming parents.
The second trimester of pregnancy often brings a renewed sense of well-being. The worst of the nausea has usually passed, and your baby isn't big enough to make you too uncomfortable. Yet more pregnancy symptoms are on the horizon. Here's what to expect.
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 a must.
Braxton Hicks contractions. You might feel these mild, irregular contractions as a slight tightness in your abdomen. They're more likely to occur in the afternoon or evening, after physical activity or after sex. Contact your health care provider if the contractions become regular and steadily increase in strength. This could be a sign of preterm labor. You may also monitor your baby’s heart rate and make sure it is normal by a fetal heartbeat monitor pregnancy doppler at home in advance of it.
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 (melasma). You might also see a dark line down your abdomen (linea nigra). These skin changes are common and usually fade after delivery. Sun exposure, however, can aggravate the issue. When you're outdoors, use sunscreen. You might also notice reddish-brown, black, silver or purple lines along your abdomen, breasts, buttocks or thighs (stretch marks). Although stretch marks can't be prevented, most eventually fade in intensity.
Nasal problems. During pregnancy, your hormone levels increase and your body makes more blood. This can cause your mucous membranes to swell and bleed easily, resulting in stuffiness and nosebleeds. Saline drops or a saline rinse can help relieve congestion. Also, drink plenty of fluids, use a humidifier, and dab petroleum jelly 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. Frequent vomiting could also affect your tooth enamel and make you more susceptible to cavities. Be sure to keep up your dental care during your pregnancy.
Dizziness. Pregnancy causes changes in circulation that might leave you dizzy. If you're having trouble with dizziness, drink plenty of fluids, avoid standing for long periods, and move slowly when you stand up or change position. When you feel dizzy, lie down on your side.
Leg cramps. Leg cramps are common as pregnancy progresses, often striking at night. To prevent them, stretch your calf muscles before bed, stay physically active, and drink plenty of fluids. Choose shoes with comfort, support and utility in mind. If a leg cramp strikes, stretch the calf muscle on the affected side. A hot shower, warm bath or ice massage also might help.
Vaginal discharge. You might notice a sticky, clear or white vaginal discharge. This is normal. Contact your health care provider if the discharge becomes strong smelling, unusual in color, or if it's 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 health care provider if you have a strong urge to urinate that can't be delayed, sharp pain when you urinate, urine 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.
During the second trimester, you might feel less tired and more up to the challenge of preparing for your baby. Check into childbirth classes. Some childbirth classes may be available online. Find a doctor for your baby. Read about breastfeeding. If you will work after the baby is born, get familiar with your employer's maternity leave policy and investigate child care options.
You might worry about labor, delivery or impending parenthood. To ease your anxiety, learn as much as you can. Focus on making healthy lifestyle choices that will give your baby the best start.
If you haven't yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines don't cause infection with the COVID-19 virus. Studies have shown COVID-19 vaccines don't pose any serious risks for pregnant women or their babies. Vaccination can help pregnant women build antibodies that protect their babies. If possible, people who live with you should also be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Do normal fetal heart beat check for your baby by using a fetal heartbeat doppler for pregnancy at home.
Your prenatal appointments will focus on your baby's growth and detecting any health problems during the second trimester of pregnancy. Your health care provider will begin by checking your weight and blood pressure. Your provider 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. Your health care provider might suggest an ultrasound or other screening tests this trimester. You might also find out your baby's sex — if you choose.
You may also listen to your baby’s heart beat with a prepared fetal heartbeat monitor pregnancy doppler at home by yourself and your partner and family members.
In some cases, virtual prenatal care may be an option if you don't have certain high-risk conditions. If you and your health care provider opt for virtual prenatal visits, ask if there are any tools that might be helpful to have at home, such as a blood pressure monitor. To make the most of any virtual visits, prepare a list of questions ahead of time and take detailed notes.
Be sure to mention any signs or symptoms that concern you. Talking to your health care provider is likely to put your mind at ease. And you may do baby’s heart rate check by a fetal heartbeat monitor pregnancy for belly when it is in need.