You’ve just cleared a major hurdle and it’s time to celebrate – you’re into your second trimester! The second trimester generally lasts from week 14 to week 27 of pregnancy. (If you haven’t already shared your baby news with everyone, now might be the time to execute that baby announcement you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest.)
It’s during your second trimester that your growing baby bump will begin to pop out for the world to see. Your body will experience this and many more changes in your second trimester. Here’s a rundown of some symptoms and other milestones you can expect.
Second trimester symptoms
As you enter the next 13 weeks, you may notice these changes:
Decreased morning sickness
If you experienced morning sickness in your first trimester, then you’re in luck – you’re probably going to experience less nausea in the second trimester. It’s not likely that morning sickness will come back in the second trimester, which means your appetite – and your energy – may return. But keep in mind that nausea could last for a few weeks into the second trimester, so you may need to keep drinking that ginger tea for just a bit longer.
Difficulty eating large meals
Your growing uterus might make it harder to eat larger meals. Instead, try to nibble on smaller amounts of food throughout the day. If you experienced morning sickness, you may already be used to this. Remember, you should be eating around 200 to 300 extra calories each day. You’ll feel better when you make healthy food choices, like lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Fat takes more time to digest so it sits in your stomach longer, which can lead to constipation.
You’ll most likely feel less fatigued throughout the day, giving you more energy to do things you enjoy, like starting a baby registry. Make sure you get out and move, too. We recommend 30 minutes of activity a day such as walking, joining an exercise class, biking or swimming. Just stay away from activities that have a higher risk of injury (skiing – water or downhill, roller coasters, horseback riding, etc.). Be careful not to bump, injure or fall on your belly.
Some women still experience fatigue in their second trimester, so don’t get discouraged if it happens to you.
Occasional headaches in the second trimester of pregnancy are normal but typically less frequent. They happen because your blood vessels have opened to get as much blood flow to the uterus as possible. They’re more common in the first trimester due to this increase in blood volume and the surge of hormones. By 12 to 15 weeks, your body will get used to the increased blood flow, and headaches usually decrease.
Shortness of breath
With the heart working harder and your uterus starting to expand, shortness of breath may become a little more noticeable.
Round ligament pain
As your uterus grows, the ligaments in your midsection are getting stretched and pulled to support your uterus. This can cause discomfort on either side of your lower abdomen and can feel like light cramping, a stabbing pain or dull ache. Quick movements like turning from side-to-side in bed, standing, or laughing could cause the ligaments to stretch, triggering feelings of discomfort or pain. While minor pain is to be expected, if you experience extreme pain or bleeding, call your care team immediately.
Your ligaments stretch and loosen as your baby gets heavier, so the muscles supporting that weight have to work harder. You may start feeling more back, hip and pelvic discomfort or pain during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Emerging baby bump
By the 20-week mark, your uterus should be near your belly button. Depending on your body shape, you may start to see a prominent baby bump. If you haven’t started wearing pregnancy clothes already, now might be the time to start looking for new pieces of clothing. Or, you can try a trick for extending the waistband of your favorite pants: place a hair tie or rubber band around the button, loop it through the button hole on your pants and connect it back to the button.
Spotting or light bleeding in your second trimester is normal. But call your care provider if you’re bleeding enough to soak through more than one pad, or if your bleeding is paired with strong abdominal pain or passing pieces of tissue.
When will I feel my baby move for the first time?
Another joy that comes in the second trimester is finally feeling your baby move. It feels like flutters in your tummy, but these flutters can also be confused with gas bubbles. That’s why it may be tough for you to distinguish between your baby’s first kicks or the chicken salad sandwich you ate for lunch. You may be able to tell the difference by 20 to 22 weeks.
If you don’t feel your baby kick, don’t panic. Your placenta may be located at the front of your uterus. This creates a pillow between you and your baby. In a few more weeks, your baby will grow big enough so you can feel his or her movements through your placenta pillow.
What fetal development occurs in the second trimester?
In addition to starting to move, your baby undergoes a lot of changes during these weeks. Their fingers, toes and facial features develop and become more defined. Baby’s nervous system starts working, they start to store fat and in the latter half of the trimester, their eyes will open. By the time you reach the third trimester of your pregnancy, your baby will even respond to stimuli.
Other frequently asked questions
How should I sleep during the second trimester of pregnancy?
Until it becomes uncomfortable due to your baby bump, you can sleep on your stomach. Otherwise, you can start getting used to sleeping on either your left or right side.
Is it safe to have intercourse during the second trimester of pregnancy?
Totally, unless your care team has told you otherwise (and you can still ask if you want to be sure). Just listen to your body, do what’s comfortable, and stop if you feel pain.
How much weight will I gain during the second trimester?
If you were at a healthy weight pre-pregnancy, you might start to gain weight a little faster now than you did in your first trimester. Overall recommended weight gain depends on your starting weight and how much you gained in the first trimester.
Is it normal to pee a lot in the second trimester?
While you may have experienced frequent trips to the bathroom during first trimester, it’s common to get a break in the second trimester. Your body is now more adapted to the change in hormones, plus your growing uterus will rise in your abdomen and take off some pressure, so you won’t feel the need to pee as often.
In the third trimester, you’re more likely to feel pressure on your bladder and take more trips to the bathroom. However, it’s still normal to feel like you have to pee a lot during any time in your pregnancy. Talk with your doctor if you notice pain when you urinate, cloudy, foul-smelling or blood-tinged urine, or are experiencing severe incontinence.
Second trimester tests
Both your body and your baby are growing rapidly and changing fast. This means your provider will want to monitor the health of you and your baby even more. During your second trimester, there are some routine, as well as optional, tests including:
You’ve probably heard your baby’s heartbeat during your regular appointments. But during your ultrasound, you’ll get the first actual look at your baby. This ultrasound is scheduled around 19 to 22 weeks. This anatomy scan takes a closer look at your baby’s brain, heart, facial features and bone structure to make sure your baby is developing normally. You can also use this ultrasound as an opportunity to find out if you are having a boy or a girl.
Gestational diabetes test
You’ll be scheduled for your gestational diabetes test around 24 to 28 weeks. There aren’t any symptoms associated with gestational diabetes, which is why taking this test is so important. During the test, you’ll drink a sugary juice and then we’ll monitor the glucose levels in your bloodstream. If your glucose levels are high, you’ll be asked to retake the test on another day. This second test will be longer and require you to fast beforehand.
Your blood vessels are opening during your second trimester and, as a result, the amount of blood pumping through your veins is increasing. When this happens, your red blood cell count could decrease and you could become anemic. This is quite common during pregnancy and it means you’ll probably need to add more iron and vitamins to your diet.
These are optional screening tests that can be started as early as 11 weeks into your pregnancy. These tests include a blood draw to evaluate pregnancy hormones levels and may include an ultrasound. They can help determine if your baby has genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome or spina bifida.
Genetic tests may be recommended during your pregnancy if you are over age 35 or have other risk factors. It’s best to talk with your provider to find out more information and discuss the specific types of tests available. Then you can decide if there are any that are right for you.
Routine tests will likely be covered under your insurance benefits. In some instances, genetic screenings may not be covered. When in doubt, call your insurance provider to learn more about your specific benefits.
One down, two to go
The second trimester is an exciting part of your pregnancy. You often feel better and have more energy, (which is super helpful as you begin to prepare the nursery or make a birth plan!). And of course, as your pregnancy progresses, don’t hesitate to ask your provider questions about your symptoms or what to expect as you approach your due date.