The Second Trimester
If you're just coming out of the first trimester, you'll be happy to learn that the second trimester (weeks 13-26) is the most welcomed part of pregnancy. For most women this is when the nausea and vomiting subside, the fatigue lessens, and your belly starts to resemble more of a bump and less like bloating.
In this blog post, we will discuss the symptoms of the second trimester, how your baby is growing week by week, and self-care. Let's get into it.
As the symptoms from the first trimester fade away, new symptoms arise from a growing baby. Consult with your midwife if you are still experiencing nausea and vomiting after the first trimester.
- Round ligament pain
- Slightly swollen ankles and feet
- Leg cramps
Before taking any over-the-counter medication to ease the symptoms of the second trimester, speak with your midwife about what you are experiencing. They may have some suggestions for dietary changes to help with constipation and can also let you know if an OTC drug is safe to take during pregnancy.
Growth by Week
As your baby grows, your baby bump will become more pronounced. Soon you’ll be able to feel your baby kicking and find out the baby’s sex (unless you would like to be surprised, just be sure to tell your ultrasound technician).
By this week your baby is able to swallow amniotic fluid to practice breathing and strengthen their lungs. With all the extra fluid being filtered by the baby’s body, urine is made and released back into the amniotic fluid.
Around 14 weeks, your baby’s sex should become noticeable to ultrasounds, though sometimes it can be helpful to wait an extra week or two.
The baby’s bones continue to develop and harden and will soon be visible on ultrasounds and their neck becomes more defined.
During week 16, the baby’s skin begins to thicken and become less transparent. Their ears are almost to the final position, their eyes are able to move slowly, and their arm and leg movements become more coordinated.
Toenails begin to form, five weeks after the beginning development of the fingernails. As the baby grows, they do so in a top-down approach.
By this week, the baby might be able to hear sounds outside the womb. In the upcoming months before their birth, your baby will become so familiar with your voice, they will know how you sound before they ever lay eyes on you.
Vernix (a waxy, cheesy substance) begins to coat the baby as a protective layer from the amniotic fluid to avoid chapping and hardening skin.
You may have felt your baby moving by now, and if you haven’t yet, don’t worry! You will be able to feel their movements soon. Your baby may wake from hearing your voice and can be lulled back to sleep by your own movements. Many women report feeling their baby move around more frequently when they are laying or sitting still, this is because as you walk, your baby is rocked to sleep. After your movements stop, the baby is able to wake and be active.
At half-way through your pregnancy, your midwives will schedule an anatomy scan soon to check that the baby is developing accordingly.
By week 21, your baby begins to develop very fine hair called lanugo to hold the vernix in place. When your baby is born, most of the lanugo will have fallen off, but many babies are born with this hair still covering some areas of their skin.
The baby's sucking reflex is also developing, and your baby can most likely suck his or her thumb in the womb.
Little strands of hair may become visible on ultrasound by week 22. By this point, the baby should be around 7 ½ inches long from head to rump.
By week 23, your baby is able to have rapid eye movements (REM) and it’s possible they can dream during their REM sleep. What do you think a fetus dreams about? Maybe the sound of your voice or sucking their thumb. They are also able to hiccup and those hiccups could be noticeable to you. You can recognize them as a repeated, jerking movement.
Foundations for their fingerprints and footprints begin to form from ridges along the palms and bottoms of their feet.
Your baby’s skin at this point is wrinkled, with tones of red and pink from capillaries just below the skin. Their wrinkles will soon be filled in with fat as they continue growing and putting on weight.
By week 25, your baby is spending most of their time in REM sleep and is familiar with the sound of your voice.
During this week, your baby’s lungs begin producing surfactant, a substance that helps the air sacs inflate during inhalation and prevents the lungs from collapsing when exhaling.
This is the last week of the second trimester. Your baby will continue developing their nervous system and gaining weight, smoothing out those wrinkles from earlier weeks.
If you haven’t had a glucose screening for gestational diabetes yet, your midwife will most likely be scheduling one with you soon.
As your fatigue and nausea dissipates, you can start focusing your energy and attention towards exercising and nutrition. It’s important to stay hydrated and eat nutrient-dense food with a high-protein, high-fiber, and iron rich diet. You don’t have to exert yourself during exercise, in fact you should avoid that, but low-impact exercises like walking or swimming for 30 minutes a day is perfect to get your body moving.
Keeping your pelvic floor in tip-top shape will come in handy very soon. The extra weight from your baby can put a strain on your pelvic floor muscles, so it’s important to strengthen those muscles regularly. Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause incontinence when you sneeze, cough, and even laugh. You’ll also use these muscles to push when giving birth, and having a weak pelvic floor can make that harder.
Continue taking your prenatal vitamins each day and if you aren’t already, try sleeping on your side and avoid sleeping on your back. The extra weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid can put pressure on your vena cava and cause fainting. During prenatal check-ups and ultrasounds, it’s important to let your provider know if you are feeling light headed so you can avoid passing out.
The second trimester may feel like a walk in the park when compared to the fatigue and nausea of the first trimester. Your baby continues to grow and develop rapidly, and you will have some important tests coming up like the anatomy scan and gestational diabetes. Keep drinking plenty of water, eat nutrient-dense foods, and exercise daily.
For more information about the second trimester, contact our midwives today!