What to Expect During Pregnancy: Second Trimester
As your body settles into the changes of pregnancy, the symptoms associated with the first trimester begin to fade away and the baby begins to grow rapidly.
The second trimester is often the most pleasant for women. However, changes within the body are still occurring and can cause certain symptoms.
Contact your doctor if you experience:
- Severe abdominal pain or cramping
- Rapid or too little weight gain (consult your doctor for proper weight ranges)
- Severe dizziness
Changes in your body
During the second trimester, a woman’s body can undergo the following changes:
Your breasts will continue to grow in the second trimester as your body prepares for the baby, but most of the tenderness from the first trimester should be wearing off. Wearing a supportive bra can help ease any discomfort.
Appearance of your “baby bump”
During the second trimester, your uterus will begin expanding – sometimes rapidly – to make room for the growing baby. You will gain weight and your belly will begin to show and become rounder as the baby grows.
During the second trimester, the baby will begin stirring – a very delicate movement called “quickening.” This activity can happen early or very late in the second trimester.
Hormone levels during pregnancy can cause a woman’s skin to appear flushed or glow. Increased melanin can also lead to the skin browning, as well as a dark line to appear down the abdomen – all of which should disappear when the baby is born.
Your skin can also increase in sensitivity to the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen when going outdoors. Thin red or purple lines may also develop, as well as stretch marks, which should fade after delivery.
Normal weight gain during the second trimester should be around 1 pound a week. As your appetite steadies, you should monitor your calorie intake to moderate your weight gain.
Increased hair growth
Hormone changes can cause increased hair growth – both thickened hair growth in normal locations, and hair growth in new locations, such as the face, back and arms.
Symptoms & side effects
During the second trimester you may also experience:
During the second trimester, increased weight gain from the baby’s growth can cause your back to ache or become sore. You can ease the pain by sitting up straight in a supportive chair, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs, wearing comfortable shoes, and avoiding picking up anything heavy.
Lessened urge to urinate
During the second trimester, the uterus rises – giving a brief period of relief to the bladder and lessening the urge to urinate.
Headaches are common for pregnant women, which can be helped with rest and relaxation (such as techniques like deep breathing).
Pregnancy can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can be accompanied by dizziness. To lessen this symptom, rise slowly after sitting or lying down, drink extra liquids, and lie on your left side to help increase blood pressure.
White vaginal discharge (leukorrhea) is normal earlier in pregnancy. You can wear a panty liner to catch the discharge. However, if the discharge is yellow, green, clear, bloody, or foul smelling, you should contact your doctor.
Heartburn with constipation
Increased hormone production causes smooth muscles to relax, affecting the esophagus (which helps keep food and acids down). This can cause acid reflux (heartburn). Waiting to lie down right after meals; eating smaller, more frequent meals; and avoiding greasy, spicy or acidic foods will help you avoid this symptom.
Congestion or nosebleeds
Changes in hormones can cause the lining of your nose to become swollen, which can cause snoring, a stuffy nose, and nose bleeds. Using saline drops (or other natural methods) and a humidifier can help. If a nosebleed occurs, apply pressure to the nostrils for a few minutes and keep your head straight until the bleeding stops.
You may experience leg cramps, particularly at night, during the second trimester. Staying active, stretching your calf muscle, and drinking enough fluids can help prevent cramping. If you experience leg cramps, you can take a warm shower or bath or massage your legs to help the cramping go away.
Because of hormone changes, some women develop sensitive gums that can bleed easily. Using a softer toothbrush and being gentle while flossing will help, and the condition usually goes away after the baby is born.
Varicose and spider veins
Varicose veins – swollen veins that appear blue from pressure from the abdomen – may develop during the second trimester, but usually clear a few months after delivery. To prevent varicose veins from worsening during pregnancy, you should move throughout the day, as well as prop your legs up when sitting for long periods.
Thin red veins – called spider veins – may also develop due to increased blood flow, but also generally clear up after delivery.
Veins around the anus can become swollen and discolored (varicose veins) during pregnancy as extra blood begins flowing and the uterus grows and puts pressure in the abdomen. Hemorrhoids can be itchy and cause discomfort, which can be relieved by sitting in a warm bath, or hemorrhoid ointment (if advised by the doctor).