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One down, two to go: What to expect in your second trimester

There are lots of exciting changes in store for you and your baby!

By Megan Schmitt, MD
August 31, 2017

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You’ve just cleared a major hurdle and it’s time to celebrate – you’re into your second trimester! Your risk for miscarriage significantly decreases once you reach this point of your pregnancy. If you haven’t announced your baby news just yet, you can finally go through with that unique baby announcement you’ve been eying on Pinterest. Better yet, you can let your growing baby bump pop out for the world to see. Your body will go through many more changes in your second trimester. Here’s what to expect.

How will my body change in the second trimester?

As you enter this new phase, you’ll likely notice these changes:

  • Decreased morning sickness. If you were sick a lot in your first trimester then you’re in luck! You’re probably going to experience less nausea in your second trimester. This means your appetite may be back, too.
  • 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 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 leads to constipation.
  • Increased energy. You’ll feel less tired 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, like walking, joining an exercise class, biking or swimming. Just stay away from contact sports (skiing – water or downhill, roller coasters, horseback riding, etc.). Be careful not to bump, injure or fall on your belly.
  • Dull headaches and shortness of breath. This is normal and happens because your blood vessels are starting to open to get as much blood flow to the uterus as possible. By 12 to 15 weeks, your body will get used to the increased blood flow, your headaches should decrease and you should feel a little more back to normal.
  • Round ligament pain. As your uterus grows, the ligaments in your midsection are getting stretched and pulled to hold your uterus up. This can cause discomfort on either side of your lower abdomen. Minor pain is to be expected. But, if you experience extreme pain or bleeding, call your doctor immediately.
  • 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 my favorite 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.

Animated illustration for how you can extend the waistband of your favorite pants in your second trimester. Shows: 
1.	Pregnant woman’s hand placing a hair tie or rubber band around the button of her pants.
2.	Woman’s hand looping the hair tie through the button hole on her pants 
3.	Woman’s hand connecting the hair tie back to the button of her pants

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’ll 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.

Second trimester tests:

Both your body and your baby are growing rapidly and changing fast. This means your doctor will want to monitor the health of you and your baby even more. During your second trimester, you’ll go through a variety of tests including an:

  • Ultrasound. 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 18 to 22 weeks. We’ll use this anatomy scan to take a closer look at your baby’s brain, heart, facial features and bone structure to make sure your baby is developing normally. You can 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.
  • Anemia screening. 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 count could decrease and you could become anemic. This is quite common during pregnancy and means you’ll probably need to add more iron and vitamins to your diet.
  • Genetic testing. These are optional screening tests that can be started as early as 11 weeks into your pregnancy. During this testing, you’ll receive an ultrasound and have your blood drawn to evaluate pregnancy hormones levels. This will help determine if your baby has genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome or spina bifida. These tests may be recommended if you are over the age of 35 at the time you delivery your baby. It’s best to talk with your doctor 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.

These tests are common prenatal screenings that will most 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.

The second trimester is an exciting part of your pregnancy. You feel better, you have more energy and you can really enjoy all the changes happening to your body.

About Megan Schmitt, MD

Dr. Megan Schmitt has been a Park Nicollet OB-GYN since 2014. Originally from northern Wisconsin, she completed college and medical school in Milwaukee before moving to Minnesota for her residency training. Dr. Schmitt enjoys caring for the whole person and involving women in making health care decisions that are right for their lifestyle. When she’s not escaping to the lake with her husband to fish, ski and swim, Dr. Schmitt keeps active by running, biking and traveling.

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