Pregnancy Calendar: Second Trimester

Most people will start to notice a small bump as you move into your second trimester. This may be a relief, as you can finally tell people you are pregnant. You will also have more energy than the first trimester and morning sickness has likely subsided. The second trimester is known as the best time of pregnancy, so enjoy!

Your baby is also entering a time when he or she starts to look like a human newborn. The face can now move, and arms and legs will grow to be proportionate with the body. Bones are hardening and fat is forming. Baby is also moving amniotic fluid through the upper respiratory tract, which helps the lungs to form. Baby can move his or her joints, and you will be able to feel baby’s movements some time during the second trimester. New moms often experience this between 20 and 25 weeks while moms who have had pregnancies prior may feel movement as early as 16 weeks.

The second trimester offers many options for screening your baby for Down syndrome and other birth defects. An alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test is a simple blood test performed between 16 and 18 weeks of pregnancy. A triple-screen test is similar to a alpha-fetoprotein test but also measures the amounts of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) and unconjugated estriol (a form of estrogen produced by the placenta). A quad test can be performed between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. It tests a fourth element, inhibin-A, which helps increase accuracy and lowers the possibility of a false-positive. Talk with your physician and your partner to determine if any of these tests are right for you and your family.

As your baby grows, many changes occur in your body. The ligaments that support your uterus become strained as they are stretched and pulled with movement. Pain associated with these ligaments is referred to as round ligament pain. You will also likely experience an increase in vaginal discharge.

More than half of all pregnant women experience back or hip pain at some point during pregnancy. Most women’s pain will be minor and subside after delivery. Dizziness and feeling faint is also normal during pregnancy, but be careful—falling can cause injury to you and baby. Yet another side effect of pregnancy is a swollen nasal passages that often result in snoring. There is also heartburn, swelling and leg cramps.

With so many decisions and physical changes to your body, it is no wonder sleeping becomes difficult during the second half of pregnancy. Do whatever you can to make yourself more comfortable while you sleep. Extra pillows may do the trick, or perhaps a glass of milk before bed.

While there are plenty of normal pregnancy symptoms, there are also several uncommon conditions you should be aware of. Blood clots, both superficial or deep-vein thrombosis, may form in the legs. Know the symptoms, and call your physician immediately If you think you have a blood clot.

Pregnant women can also become anemic if their body is not producing enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. Anemia will cause you to feel sluggish and tired.

Additionally, it is possible to develop diabetes only during pregnancy. Referred to as gestational diabetes, the condition causes a buildup of sugar in the blood. You will be given a glucose screening test between 24 and 28 weeks gestation or earlier if your medical provider feels you are at greater risk for gestational diabetes.

Another unfortunate possibility is the onset of depression. The hormone changes that come with pregnancy can affect the chemicals in your brain, which can cause depression and anxiety. These feelings can be exacerbated by the impact of pregnancy on your emotional state. Know the signs and be open and honest with your partner and your medical care team.

Controlled weight gain can help ease the severity of some of these symptoms. The best way to normalize weight gain is through continued moderate exercise and healthy eating habits. Try to get between 2,300 and 2,500 calories per day (unless you have discussed a different plan with your medical care team). These calories should include iron-rich foods, calcium, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.

But all of these less-than-ideal side effects and demands of pregnancy are absolutely worth it. And around halfway through your pregnancy, you will be rewarded with “seeing” your little one. Between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, an in-depth ultrasound is performed to ensure your baby is developing properly. You, your partner and your physician will be able to see baby’s (or babies’) developing systems, including his or her heart, digestive tract and brain. You may even get to see baby moving if your health care system offers 4D ultrasounds. And, if you are interested and baby is cooperating, you may even learn the baby’s sex during your appointment!

By the end of your second trimester, you will likely have gained between 16 and 22 pounds (7.2 to 9.9 kg). There is plenty more to come so get out there and enjoy yourself while you are still comfortable. Only one more trimester to go until you meet your beautiful baby.