The end of the first trimester is a great relief to many pregnant mothers because it brings to an end the many stressful symptoms. At this stage, the bad moods will disappear, and everything including foods and flowers around you will taste great. Notably, the baby bump will still not be big, but the belly will start growing faster towards the third trimester.
Second trimester time frame
The second trimester starts at around the 14th week and lasts for about three months to the 27th week.
Baby’s growth and development during the second trimester
The second trimester is perhaps the busiest period for the unborn. By the close of the 18th week, the baby has grown significantly and is approximately the size of a chicken breast, has developed footprints, and can yawn. Three weeks later at the 21st week, the baby can take some kicks and will be about 2 pounds by close of the second trimester.
Other developments include:
- Hair skin and nails: At around the 15th week, hair starts growing on the head while eyebrows and lashes emerge in the 22 week. A light coat of fur with a very light membrane cover the body as a simple skin (vernix caseosa) continues forming by the 19th week. The light fur and the simple membrane are shed off weeks before birth.
- The nervous system: By the 19th and 20th weeks of the second trimester, the nervous system is well developed, and the brain can coordinate other organs from the heart, eyes, digestive system, limbs, and the baby’s hormonal development.
- Digestive tract: While the digestive system started forming during the first trimester, it now starts sucking fluids from the placenta and preparing for real life outside the womb. By the close of the second trimester, the digestive tract is almost fully developed, and some food goes through the entire tract.
- Senses: At around the 22nd week, the eyes and ears are moving from the brain to the right positions. The baby can be able to open and close the eyes, smell and even hear.
- Heart development: At around the 17th week, the brain is developed enough and is controlling the heart’s development. Therefore, the heart is not beating as spontaneously as it was doing during the first trimester. During the second trimester, arteries and veins start forming to carry oxygen and waste away from the cells.
By the close of the second trimester, the baby is about 12 inches long and weighs about 2lbs. The blood vessels are visible through the light skin cover, and the baby can respond to sounds. If a baby is born prematurely after the 23rd week, it can survive under intensive care.
Changes to expect in Mom’s body during the second trimester
The second trimester is the most blissful period for any pregnant mother because most symptoms of the first trimester fade away. However, even those that remain are only mild. However others may emerge as the baby continues to develop in the womb and include the following:
- Nasal congestion: This is a symptom carried over from the first trimester and occurs because of intensified blood activity in the upper respiratory system. It is important to use warm water at all times, massage the sinuses, and use cool mist humidifier. Make sure to avoid using antihistamines unless instructed by a physician.
- Gum inflammation: This is caused by plaque build-up and hormonal changes. It is important to see the dentist immediately to confirm that the problem is not serious.
- Leg crumps and swelling near the ankles: This starts during the second trimester and is caused by hormonal changes and weight. The additional weight pushes lymphatic fluid and other fluids down the legs causing crumps. You should remain active by taking light exercises such as walks and lying.
- Emerging stretch marks: Red, pink and purple marks start appearing on thighs, breasts, and abdomen.
- Dizziness: As more blood is directed to helping the developing foetus, other parts may experience reduced blood pressure bringing about dizziness. To address this, make sure to consume lots of fluids and small nutritious meals.
- Mild lower abdominal pain: As the ligaments in the lower abdomen adjust to support the growing baby, you will you will experience mild abdominal pain.
Remember that all of these symptoms are normal and will go away once the pregnancy is over. During the second trimester, it is not odd to get a strong sense of anxiety, frustration, forgetfulness, and irritation as the bump starts to appear.
Notably, many people also experience huge changes in their bedroom. For some, the hormonal changes may completely make it difficult to enjoy or even have sex. However, others find it enthralling because more blood has been directed to where it matters most. To address these, it is prudent to be in constant communication with your partner about pregnancy so that both parties can appreciate it is temporary.
Weight gain during the second trimester
The appetite will greatly improve during the second trimester as the body gears up to support the growing body. You can expect to gain about 1-1.5 lbs every week during the second trimester.
Symptoms that require medical attention
While the second trimester is expected to smooth and enjoyable indeed, make sure to seek medical help in case of the following symptoms;
- Vaginal bleeding
- Serious back pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Very high fever
- Severe swelling of the hands and legs
- Be on the lookout for gestational diabetes
- Blurred vision
Things to do during the second trimester
- Draw a monitoring routine to follow with your physician to check on weight, uterus size, fundus size, blood pressure, baby’s heartbeat, and other parameters.
- Go for a second ultrasound scan to check the status of the baby preferably between the 19th and 23rd week (remember that this should only be carried by a professional). This will be a great moment to tell the sex of the baby.
- At around the 23rd-24th week, go for glucose screening which is recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) so that you can get helpful nutritional support. It is very critical to track the blood sugar all through the first, second, and third trimester.
- Start shopping for your baby clothes and other baby accessories because you have established the sex. You might also need to get a separate maternity wardrobe.
- Because morning sickness has subsided, ensure to eat plenty of iron-rich foods, complex carbs, and more importantly whole grains foods.
- Prioritize pregnancy workouts to keep active, control blood sugar, and keep the pelvic floor in shape. You should include Kegels.
- Schedule to capture your bump after every 4 weeks to enjoy and immortalize the changes. Start thinking and planning for the baby shower.
- Select the theme, location, guests, and come up with invitation cards. Consider having a baby registry for the shower.
- Consider taking childbirth classes to learn more about the process and birth centres and meet more mothers at the same stage with you. Your selected birth centre will probably have the classes.