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How long does it take for a baby to be born? A normal pregnancy continues for about 40 weeks and these weeks are divided into three trimesters: first, second, and third. Today we are especially going to talk about the second trimester of pregnancy, which starts roughly from the 13th week and lasts up to the 27th week and this is where the mom, as well as the fetus, undergoes many changes.
The majority of women feel at ease in the second trimester of pregnancy as compared to the first one. The reason is that most of the early pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, extreme fatigue, tender breasts, and low energy levels are starting to fade away. Also, a lot of women express that they are delighted to reach this stage because as this trimester begins, their energy levels start to pick up, they are less nauseous, and they sleep better.
Even better, by the second trimester’s end, a mother’s lower abdomen starts to look like a pregnant belly.
Changes During the Second Trimester of Pregnancy
As previously mentioned, a few of the early pregnancy symptoms—morning sickness, extreme fatigue, tender breasts, and low energy levels—will start to go away, but there’s a chance other symptoms such as constipation and heartburn may stay.
Concurrently, as your belly grows and pregnancy hormone levels keep rising, you’ll notice a few more changes such as:
- Nose congestion: During the second trimester, the flow of blood to your mucus membrane may increase, and oftentimes, you’ll snore. Luckily, there is safe OTC medication to use while you are pregnant.
- Lightly swollen ankles: This change is experienced by 3 out of 4 pregnant women and it usually starts at the 22nd week of pregnancy until the baby is delivered. To reduce the swelling, try to be as active as possible, keep your feet up when you are resting, don’t sit or stand for too long, and sleep on your sides.
- Delicate gums: You’ll notice that your gums will become sensitive and they’ll bleed, but if they are bright red and are starting to bleed, see your dentist because it could be the symptoms of gingivitis.
- Leg cramps: The leg cramps might start in the second trimester and continue till the third. The reason behind the cramps can be the weight and hormones, but it can also possibly mean that you are deficient in magnesium or calcium. Ensure that you eat healthy and balanced food.
- Dizziness: You might get slightly dizzy as the blood vessels in your body expand and relax. This will increase the flow of blood to your belly and baby, which will slow down your blood pressure. Eat an ample amount of small meals, drink a lot of water, and take proper rest to reduce the symptoms.
- Pain in the lower part of your abdomen: Also called round ligament pain, it occurs when the ligaments supporting your belly expand and stretch to support the increasing size of your belly.
- Weight gain: During the second trimester, your appetite will likely increase to support your and your developing baby. If at the start of the pregnancy, you were at an average weight, you can expect to add approx. a pound a week.
What happens to the body during the second trimester?
The symptoms you experience in the first trimester seem to improve in the second trimester. There are reports of women stating that nausea and fatigue in the second trimester begin to lessen considering the second to be the easiest and the most enjoyable part of the pregnancy.
Here are a few symptoms that may occur during this time:
- The expansion of the uterus
- Showing larger abdomen
- Feeling dizziness or lightheadedness due to the low blood pressure
- Feel the movement of the baby
- Body aches
- Increased appetite
- Stretch marks on the thighs, stomach, breast, or buttocks
- The change in the skin like darkening around your nipples, or patches
- Swelling in the ankles or hands
Along with this, listed below are symptoms you must be pretty aware of. And, if you experience any, call the doctor:
- Extreme swelling
- Rapid weight gain
Baby Growth in the Second Trimester
During the second trimester of pregnancy, the baby is super busy growing and its development will just take off. The baby’s weight will steadily increase and it’ll be able to hiccup and yawn.
By week 21, you’ll feel the little gymnast’s legs and arms give you coordinated kicks and jabs. And by week 23, the baby will start to add on some pounds in the coming four weeks, the baby might even double in weight. Here are a few exciting baby developments:
- Hair, skin, and nails: Around week 16, your baby will start growing its first tiny hair, and around week 22, eyebrows and eyelashes. The baby’s skin will now be coated in lanugo, a soft “fur coat” to keep your baby cozy and warm until the baby builds more fat in the third trimester. Around week 19, your baby will develop vernix caseosa, which is an oily layer that protects the baby’s skin from the acidic nature of the amniotic fluid.
- Digestive system: The digestive system had already developed by the first trimester’s end and the next stage would be swallowing. By now the baby has the ability to taste the food you consume through the amniotic fluid. Research suggests that this tasting ability can influence the future food likings of the baby. Thus, a mother must chow down a lot of healthy foods to prepare the baby for healthy food eating habits.
- Senses: By week 22, the baby’s eyes and ears are developing at a faster rate and the eyes, in particular, are beginning to open. In this stage, the baby develops the sense of seeing, smelling, and hearing.
- Heart: By week 17, the heart has an orderly beat as it is being controlled by the brain and the heartbeat is audible with the help of a stethoscope by week 20. Further, the capillaries begin to develop and send oxygenated blood throughout the body.
- Brain: Other than regulating your baby’s heartbeat and kicks, the brain will also control the blinking of the little eyelids.
What Can be Expected From the Doctor?
Second-trimester pregnant women need to see a doctor every two to four weeks. Here is a list of the tests the doctor may perform on your visits:
- Measuring the blood pressure
- Checking the weight
- Screening of diabetes with blood tests
- Birth defect and genetic screening tests
In this trimester, the doctor can determine the sex of the baby through the ultrasound.
How to Stay Healthy During the Second Trimester?
The awareness of knowing what to do and what not is extremely important as your pregnancy continues. It helps you take care of yourself as well as the developing baby.
What to do During Your Second Trimester of Pregnancy
- Continue consuming prenatal vitamins
- Exercise regularly.
- Do Kegel exercises by working your pelvic floor
- Have more fruits, vegetables, low-fat forms of protein, and fiber.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Consume enough calories (about 300 calories or more)
- Maintain the health of your teeth and gums as poor dental hygiene may result in premature labor.
Things to Avoid Around Your Second Trimester of Pregnancy
- Strenuous exercise or training that could cause an injury to the stomach
- Illegal drugs
- Consuming raw fish or smoked seafood
- Shark, swordfish, mackerel, or white snapper fish as they have high levels of mercury
- Raw sprouts
- Cat litter as they carry a parasite known as toxoplasmosis
- Unpasteurized milk or any dairy products
- Hot dogs or deli meats
- Prescription drugs like isotretinoin for acne, acitretin for psoriasis, thalidomide, and ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure patients
Above all, it is always good to consult a doctor about prescription drugs or supplements.
What to do During the Second Trimester to Prepare for Birth?
Yes, there is a lot of time in hand for the delivery but you may want to plan earlier. This helps make the third trimester less stressful. Listed below are things you can do to prepare for childbirth:
- Have prenatal education classes offered locally
- Consider classes to learn breastfeeding, infant CPR, first aid as well as parenting
- Educate yourself through online research
- Watch childbirth videos on YouTube
- Take a tour of the hospital or the birth center
- Prepare a nursery or space in the house for the newborn baby.
The second trimester of pregnancy may seem to be easy as compared to the first one as mentioned by most pregnant women, it is certainly not easy. There is a lot to keep in mind and do. So reference the article above, and be prepared as there are only a few months left before the most awaited day. Happy Pregnancy!