The second trimester; ‘golden period of pregnancy’ is the easiest three months of pregnancy. There is a welcome relief from the worst of morning sickness and tenderness of the breasts, the ‘baby bump’ starts appearing as your baby continues to grow in the womb, you may start feeling the movements of your baby inside your womb!
The second trimester begins at 14 weeks and lasts up to the end of 27 weeks. Your body undergoes a lot of changes as you progress through your pregnancy so, here is a comprehensive guide to help you know about the developments in your baby, what to expect, the do’s and the don’ts during the second trimester.
How does the baby develop in second trimester?
- Week 14:
The neck of your baby is getting defined and the chin becomes more prominent. Baby swallows the amniotic fluid and passes it out as urine. Your baby is starting to react to external stimuli. The sex of your baby starts becoming apparent.
Your baby might be 87mm and weighs 45g at this point.
- Week 15:
The baby is covered with fine hair called lanugo which sheds by birth. The organs have become fully defined and will continue to develop & mature as the pregnancy advances.
- Week 16:
Your baby can slowly move her eyes. Head is erect. There will be coordinated limb movements which can be detected through an ultrasound. Your baby might be 120mm long and weighs almost 110g
- Week 17:
At this point your energetic baby is tossing and rolling in the womb, The organ systems are functioning well and the heart pumps 100 pints of blood a day. Eyebrows, eyelashes and hair on the head begin to grow.
- Week 18:
Her little ears and eyes start functioning. The baby becomes sensitive to light and can hear sounds. She has the ability to yawn, stretch, form facial expressions, taste, and even swallow!
- Week 19:
When you are 19 weeks into your pregnancy a protective covering called vernix caseosa develops around the skin of the baby, shielding the fragile skin of the baby. In the baby girls vaginal canal and uterus forms.
- Week 20:
You have reached the halfway point of your pregnancy! You'll be able to sense your baby's movements. Your baby will also love to put her hands & feet in the mouth.
Your baby sleeps and wakes on a regular basis. Noises or your movements may startle her awake.
A fun fact: If a loud sound is made near you, the baby will cover her ears with the hands and may even become scared and "jump." Alternatively, soothing sounds & gentle talk may calm the baby. This is the time to start talking to your baby!
- Week 21:
The baby can suck her thumb as the sucking reflex develops. The fine hair; lanugo, hold the vernix caseosa on the skin. Permanent tooth buds are starting to form. If your baby is a boy, his testes have formed but are still in his abdomen and not yet descended into the scrotum.
- Week 22:
Baby’s eyebrows and hair become visible. In a baby boy the testes begin to descend and in a baby girl, her ovaries will have been formed by this time. Your baby starts responding to sounds, rhythm and singing and talking to them will help in calming them down. Your baby might be 190mm long and may weigh 460g
- Week 23:
Fingerprints and foot prints have been formed. Your baby might even start hiccupping at this point leading to jerking movements.
- Week 24:
By this time, your baby is the size of a pineapple. Roughly around this age baby can survive outside the womb with the help of specialised medical care. The white blood cells which help to fight infections have started to form. Your baby’s skin appears wrinkled and pink to reddish or translucent. By placing an ear to your abdomen your partner may be able to hear the sound of the heartbeat of your baby!
- Week 25:
Your baby will start responding to your voice by movements or increased pulse rate.
- Week 26:
During this week your baby’s lungs develop to produce surfactants which will help in the inflating the lungs during breathing after birth. Your baby weighs roughly 820g and is 230mm long.
- Week 27:
This is week is where your second trimester ends. The nervous system continues to develops and the baby gains fat.
What to expect in pregnancy during the second trimester?
Apart from the baby growing inside you, there are a lot of other changes that occur in your body as well during pregnancy. Here is the list and how to prepare for these changes:
- Baby bump and growing breasts:
As your baby grows inside you, the uterus expands in size. The uterus grows up to the belly button. Your breasts also start to increase in size because of the enlarging milk glands and fat deposition. The area around the nipples darkens and may have tiny bumps.
Use sports bra or a supportive bra with wide straps to support the enlarging breasts and also make sure to keep the nipples clean of any crusting by wiping them with a moist cotton when needed and moisturise the skin well.
- Stretch marks and other skin changes:
As your belly expands, the skin is stretched & develops tiny cracks leading to stretch marks. These appear on the belly and breasts. Stretch marks cannot be completely prevented, but they gradually fade in intensity after delivery.
Applying any suitable moisturizer, consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits , minerals /vitamins & keeping yourself well hydrated , reduces the itchiness of the skin due to these stretch marks.
During pregnancy there is increased melanin in your skin which can lead to dark or brown patches on the skin called “mask of pregnancy”. You also become more sensitive to sunlight which means that your skin might easily burn.
So, use a sunscreen when outdoors.
You will also find a dark line running through the centre of your bump to the pubic hair, this is called “linea nigra”. Similar dark patches may be present under the breasts, underarms & inner thighs. These are due to pregnancy hormones & regress slowly after delivery.
Backache is common during the pregnancy. The increasing belly puts a pressure on the back leading to back aches. For backaches you can use hot fermentation, wear comfortable shoes, stay physically active.
You can use pain relieving ointments.
Remember to take your calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Make sure to sleep on your left-hand side and use a pillow between your legs.
For any persistent or worsening pain during pregnancy, promptly consult your doctor.
- Stretching Pain in the lower abdomen or pubic ligaments:
This is called round ligament pain which typically occurs when you try to turn sides while lying down. Round ligaments are the ligaments supporting the uterus and preventing it from wobbling on either side. As the uterus expands, the round ligaments also stretch , thus causing the pain.
Do not worry if you experience this kind of pain, get enough rest as this pain subsides with rest.
Adequate calcium , Vitamin D supplementation also helps in this pain.
- Leg cramps:
Leg cramps are common in pregnancy and usually occur during the evenings. Staying physically active, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing comfortable shoes can help prevent these cramps.
Whenever you experience cramps, stretch your calf muscles by pointing your toes towards the face and then extending them repeatedly.
Taking a hot shower can also help relieve this.
- Nasal congestion and bleeding:
Increased blood flow to the mucous membrane in your nose causes it to swell and bleed. If you have never had snoring problems before your pregnancy you might find yourself snoring for the first time now.
Use saline drops or inhalers to relieve the congestion.
Apply petroleum jelly around your nostrils to provide relief to the skin.
- Dental issues:
Second trimester is the best time in pregnancy to get your dental work done. Dental infections are said to be one of the reasons for preterm labour and any such issues need to be addressed promptly. The pregnancy hormones cause your gums to bleed and loosens your teeth.
Visit your dentist and maintain good oral hygiene like flossing, brushing, rinsing your mouth.
- Pregnancy piles or haemorrhoids:
Piles are a common occurrence in pregnancy as the tendency for constipation increases under the influence of pregnancy hormones. Also, the blood flow in the lower part of the body , including the rectum & anal area ,slows down ,leading to congestion & swelling of veins in the anal region.
The best way to deal with it is to consume a high fibre diet rich in fruits/vegetables, consume plenty of liquids & staying active in pregnancy.
If you are troubled by piles caused by constipation, use a sitz bath. Take a shallow tub and fill it with water and add betadine to it. Sit in the tub for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will relieve the pain and itching in the rectal area.
You can also use over the counter piles medications or ointments.
- Vaginal discharge and UTI:
In case you notice a clear white sticky,odourless discharge from your vagina, do not worry. It’s normal to have increased vaginal secretions during pregnancy.
But, if the discharge is foul smelling, reddish or greenish or curdy, or you experience burning urination ,visit your doctor as this may be a sign of infection.
UTI may occur during pregnancy as a result of incomplete emptying of the bladder. Treating UTI and vaginal infections is very essential because these are frequent reasons of premature labour.
To do’s for second trimester:
- Routine check-up:
You will be asked to visit your doctor once in every 4 weeks where your doctor will check your blood pressure, weight, check for your baby’s heartbeat. The anomaly scan is done during 18-20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Screen for gestational diabetes:
About every 1 in 10 pregnant women is diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The screening for this is done by the 24th to 26th week of pregnancy. This test can be done earlier if you have a family history of diabetes or are overweight or have had a history of gestational diabetes during your previous pregnancy.
- Get immunised:
Get your flu shot during this period to protect you from infections like swine flu. The tetanus injection is also given during this trimester. Roughly around 26-28 weeks of pregnancy the Tdap shot is given to protect you from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
- Take your nutritional supplements:
Make sure to take your calcium, vitamin D, iron, folic acid, DHA to maintain your health and for the development of your baby.
While you’re busy coping with the physical changes of pregnancy, Do not forget to take care of your mental health as well. Things like childbirth, labour pain, parenting may make you anxious. But do not fret & read about these things to prepare yourself. You can think of baby names, plan for baby shower, click pictures of your growing baby bump, shop for maternity clothes. Engage in talking and feeling your little baby and their fluttering movements as they continue to grow inside of you. Finally, remember to relax and enjoy the best trimester of pregnancy.
What is couvade syndrome?
It is also called sympathetic pregnancy where your otherwise healthy partner experiences some of the symptoms as you do! Your man might also experience nausea, leg cramps, back pain, heartburn, depression. Though more research is needed to conclude that the cause of this is psychological. Pregnancy brings with it excitement, nervousness, anxiety of becoming a parent.
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