The second trimester overview

The second trimester overview

The second trimester of pregnancy

The second trimester is from week 13 to week 28. This is often the most comfortable time of pregnancy for most women. The early symptoms of the first trimester will start to disappear here and you are likely to feel a boost in energy levels and a better night’s sleep.

You will start to show that you are pregnant in your abdominal area as your uterus starts to rapidly grow. It is advised that you stop wearing tight clothing and invest in looser, more comfortable maternity wear. This is also the safest time to spread the great news that you are pregnant to family and friends.

This period does, however, some with a few new symptoms such as heartburn (which you may have already experienced if you’re in this phase of pregnancy), and leg cramps. You might also have more of an appetite, but be careful not to gain unnecessary weight here, try walking regularly to also ease the leg cramps and keep off the unwanted weight. Stick to nutrient-packed foods and make sure your doctor monitors your weight gain. You may also experience backaches (this is because of the ligaments being softened and extra weight of the growing baby which can change your posture), varicose veins (due to oestrogen and progesterone being known to deteriorate the inner lining of the veins, making then weaker and thinner) and nasal congestion (hormones are causing the lining of the nose to weaken and swell).

This is also a very exciting period as you are normally able to feel your baby move around for the very first time.

This usually occurs at about 20 weeks. Your baby can start to hear you now.

Second trimester tests and risks

Your doctor may perform some screening tests on you.

An anatomy ultrasound is typically performed between 18 and 22 weeks. Here, the baby’s body parts are measured and evaluated in order to ensure they are growing and functioning correctly.

The list of body parts doctors evaluate when looking at your developing baby are as follows:

  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Kidneys

You are most likely to also find out the exact sex of the baby here if you were unable to do so in the first trimester. Your doctor is also likely to test for gestational diabetes at this stage, this can be detected between 26 and 28 weeks. For this test, you are instructed to swallow a substance that is high-glucose, after which you will have to wait an hour before having your blood drawn. Your blood is then tested to see if your body reacts correctly to sugar during pregnancy.

Second trimester emotional and physical changes

Any morning sickness you may be experiencing tends to lessen in the second trimester. You may notice other changes such as the typical baby bump starting to form nicely now.

However, symptoms of the second trimester can include:

  • Bodily aches in the groin, abdomen or legs
  • Your areola (area around the nipples) darkening
  • Stretch marks may start to form on your breasts, thighs, bum and belly
  • A line of skin starting from the pubic hairline to the belly button may form (linea nigra)
  • Unusual patches of dark skin on the forehead, upper lips, forehead and nose (known as Chloasma, Melasma and even 'the pregnancy mask')
  • Tingling or numb hands
  • An itchy abdomen and feet
  • Feet may start to swell, as well as fingers and the face

Second trimester baby growth at sixteen weeks

Your baby will continue to grow and develop, these changes are as follows:

  • Your baby’s musculoskeletal system will continue forming
  • Your baby will start to develop its sucking reflex
  • Your baby is about 10 to 12cm long
  • Your baby will have its first bowel movement as meconium develops in its intestinal tract
  • Your baby’s skin will start to form and be quite translucent

Second trimester baby growth at 20 weeks

Your baby will continue to develop in the following ways at 20 weeks:

  • You baby will start to be more active in kicking and moving
  • Your baby will now be covered by lanugo, which is a fine and feathery hair coat as well as being covered in vernix, which is a waxy coating
  • Your baby can now swallow and hear
  • The toenails, eyebrows, fingernails and eyelashes have now formed (your baby can also scratch itself now)
  • Your baby is about 15cm long

Second trimester baby growth at 24 weeks

At 24 weeks, your baby is undergoing, even more, changes, these being:

  • Your baby has formed taste buds on its tongue
  • Your baby’s bone marrow has started to create blood cells
  • Fingerprints and footprints have formed
  • Hair has started to grow on the head of your baby
  • The lungs do not work but have been formed
  • Your baby now has a regular sleep pattern and cycle
  • Depending on the sex of the baby, their sexual organs are now formed and in place
  • The baby is now about 30cm long
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