Welcome to your second trimester! All the hard work involved in making your baby and helping it form has been done. Baby’s essential organs and body systems should be in place and ready to keep growing and maturing from now on. In your second trimester, your baby will increase 3-4 times in size and will look more and more like the little person it will become.
For most women, their second trimester comes as a welcome relief. The exhaustion and nausea which has been so consuming in the first seem to settle and there is almost a return to a normal state of well-being. However, there are still some big differences to come.
Has anyone seen my waist?
You may find it is getting harder to hide the reality of your pregnancy at this stage. When women start to “show” is highly individual and depends on their overall size and stature, whether they’ve had children before, how accurately they have estimated their dates and even the muscle tone of their tummies. At the start of the second trimester, the womb is just starting to rise up from the central pubic bone. Until then, it has been protected within the pelvis but now becomes too large to stay there and needs to lift up and out.
How big you are outwardly, at this early stage of your pregnancy, is not an indication of your baby’s growth or well-being. So don’t worry if you still can’t feel anything when you’re poking around on your tummy.
Your physical changes in the second trimester
That stuffy nose that has been irritating you is likely to hang around for a few more weeks. Try to limit the amount of time you spend in low humidity environments and air conditioning. A bowl of water or humidifier in the room can help make breathing easier.
Your size and shape is going to change in the next few months. There’s no way of getting around this. Every woman will “carry” differently and lots of people will tell you it is possible to determine the sex of your baby from how much your tummy sticks out. But, although there is no scientific proof to support this theory, there is no harm in having a little fun.
Get ready to feel Braxton Hicks Contractions from around week 26. These are painless contractions of your womb, which are designed to prepare your womb for labour and increase its blood flow. You may be conscious of them earlier if you have had a baby previously.
Your emotional changes in the second trimester
Take note of where you put things throughout the next few weeks. One of the more common symptoms heralding the start of the second trimester is “pregnancy amnesia”. Don’t think you’re losing your marbles - just don’t do too much at once and learn to laugh at yourself! A sense of humour helps.
In the small hours and quieter moments you might find yourself worrying if your baby will be alright and how you will cope if it isn’t. There is a sense in the second trimester that there is no going back. There are no guarantees or iron-clad contracts when it comes to baby-making, but be reassured, nature is very clever and gets it right most of the time.
Hints for your second trimester
Get used to the idea of attending regular antenatal appointments at your obstetrician, GP or midwife. Routine check-ups are usually a means of screening for potential problems. It is common for pregnant women to have their weight, tummy size, blood pressure and urine checked at each visit, which is usually every 4 weeks or so throughout your second trimester.
Think about your diet and whether you are eating as well as you could be. You don’t need to eat for two, just really well for one. Make sure you are getting lots of carbohydrates and protein, iron and calcium in your diet. Remember, everything you eat will eventually find its way through to your baby and will help it grow.
Expect yourself to start gaining weight through your second trimester. Most women find their weight remains stable in the first trimester or even drops in response to their appetite changes. Don’t stress too much if you are gaining weight but remember that a healthy gain is around 12 kilograms. Gaining over this amount can cause pregnancy and labour complications.
Let’s look at your baby’s changes in the second trimester
Your baby is the size of a clenched fist. The eyelids are fully formed but are still fused over the eyes and will stay this way throughout the second trimester.
This week your baby can swallow. It will soon become adept at swallowing the amniotic fluid and recycling it through its kidneys. This may sound less than tasty, but is a vital means of determining if they will have renal problems. It also helps the lungs develop.
Your baby is almost 13 cm long this week and moving quite actively now, with alternating periods of rest and activity. All that movement helps your baby’s muscles to grow and consolidates the network of nervous system pathways linking the brain, spinal cord and muscles.
Your baby’s body will begin to straighten out and the legs are getting longer. This week your baby has eyebrows and eyelashes, to match its hairy little body. Don’t worry though, unless your baby comes early, all that fuzz – known officially as “lanugo” – will be lost.
If this is your first pregnancy, you will probably be aware of your baby’s movements by now. If you’ve been pregnant before, it is possible to feel movements or “quickening” from around 14 weeks.
This week your little one is the size of a mango. A white oily coating known as vernix caseosa is forming on its body around now; another means of protecting that tender skin.
Your baby is around 21 cm long. If you haven’t been able to determine it before, it is now possible to see what sex your baby is via an ultrasound. Your womb is at the half-way mark and will reach up to your navel by now.
Your baby is the length of a banana this week. Baby’s arms and legs look as if they are in proportion to each other and those kicks you are feeling are less random and sudden. They seem to be stronger and more intentional than they have been.
Your baby is hearing a lot of muffled noises by now so get into the habit of talking, playing music and having your partner chat away through your tummy wall. This will pay off when baby is born and responds to your partner’s voice.
In the next month, your baby will double in weight and will fill out to fit its skin and lay down all important fat. You’ll probably notice that you are getting bigger too.
Your baby is around 22 cm long. The amniotic fluid is being sucked in and out of baby’s lungs in a breathing motion. Lots of energy is going into baby’s growth, with fat deposits being laid down. Hair now starts forming in all the right places, especially eyebrows, eyelashes and on the head.
Air sacs are forming in your baby’s lungs, in preparation for its first breaths. There’s lots of lung development happening this week and although you are still doing all the breathing for your baby at the moment, it will need to be ready to breathe on its own from the moment of birth.
Your baby’s eyes can actually see and you may find that baby is more active when you are out in bright sunlight. They are able to respond to touch through the abdominal wall and will move in response to gentle pressure on your tummy wall. Your baby is roughly the same size as the placenta this week.
There’s lots of movements and activity this week, with regular bursts of kicking and stretching. Your baby is still practicing breathing, though if it were born this week, it would most certainly need help to breathe. Watch and feel your tummy jumping rhythmically - it could be baby hiccupping.