Second trimester of pregnancy : What to expect
Most women find the second trimester the most enjoyable of all the trimesters. You are starting to gain your energy back. Annoying symptoms like morning sickness have begun to suppress . Your baby grows quickly during the second trimester. You will have an ultrasound around pregnancy week 18 to 22 so that the doctor can check how your baby is doing. Your health care provider will start measuring your fundal height to check the size of your uterus.You can also find out the sex of your baby at this time if you want to.
What to expect during the second trimester
Backache : The extra weight gain will start to put pressure on your back, making it sore. You can ease this discomfort by doing the following :
- sit up straight and use a chair that provides good support
- avoiding carrying or picking up anything heavy
- sleep on your side with pillows tucked in between your legs
- get a prenatal massage
Larger breasts : Your breast will keep getting bigger due to additional fat accumulation and in preparation for the new milk.Wearing a supportive bra will help ease any discomfort.
leg pain : Leg cramps especially at night is common during the second trimester. This may be due to the pressure from the growing baby being exerted on the nerves and blood vessels that go to the legs. Sleeping on your side instead of your back may help . A fatal condition known as deep vein thrombosis DVT is when blood clot forms in the veins. This could cause pain and swelling in one leg. Call the doctor right away if you experience these symptoms.
Bleeding gum : Half of all pregnant women experience red, swollen gum. This is due to hormonal changes that send more blood to the gum. This makes them more sensitive and more prone to bleeding. Use a softer tooth-brush and be gentle when you floss. Dental hygiene during pregnancy is very important. Pregnant women with gum disease (periodontal disease ) are at increased risk of premature labor.
Braxton hicks contractions : This is also called false labor. These contractions cause tightening of the uterine muscles. This is a way your body prepares for labor and delivery. Braxton hicks contractions are not regular and go away within a few minutes. You should call your doctor right way if contractions become regular and more painful and do not go away when you change positions.
Nasal problems : More blood flows through the mucous membranes. This causes swelling of your nose and airways which in turn lead to restricted airflow and result in snoring, congestion and nosebleeds.
Quickening : You will start to feel the flutters of your baby in your abdomen half way through your pregnancy. This is often called quickening. If you haven’t heard your baby move yet, don’t worry. Some women, especially first time moms don’t feel their babies move until around 6 months of pregnancy.
Heartburn : The burning sensation you feel may begin to worsen during the second trimester. The pressure from your expanding uterus on your stomach forces food and acid into the esophagus, causing this burning sensation. You should eat small, bland foods throughout the whole day instead of three large meals. You should also avoid lying down right after eating.
Skin changes : During the second trimester, the hormonal changes cause an increase of melanin in the skin.This causes dark patches in the face. You may also notice the appearance of a faint, dark line known as linea nigra down your abdomen. You may notice pink, red or purple streaks along your abdomen, breasts, buttocks or thighs. These are stretch marks. You may also start to itch because of your stretching skin. Using moisturizers can help. Use sunscreen when you are outdoors.
Growing belly : As your belly expands to make more room for the baby, your abdomen gets bigger. During the second trimester , your belly gets bigger rapidly. You should expect to gain about 3 to 4 pounds every month until delivery. However, for overweight and obese women, less weight gain is recommended. Work with your health care provider to find out the best amount of weight you need go gain.
Vaginal discharge : During this time , you may notice a thin , white vaginal discharge. This acidic discharge suppresses the growth of any acid bacteria or yeast. You may use non fragrance panty liners to ease this discomfort. If discharge has a foul smell and is accompanied by itching and soreness, it could be a sign of vaginal infection. Call your doctor right away.
Urinary tract infections : Urinary tract infections are common at this time. This is because hormonal changes cause slow urine flow. The growing uterus also presses on the bladder. This type of infection can cause preterm labor so it is essential to let your doctor know if you are experiencing symptoms such as
- burning sensation during urination
- blood in the urine
- urine with strong odor
- frequent urination
Hemorrhoids : These are varicose veins around the anus. These veins enlarge during pregnancy due to extra blood flow through them and increased pressure from the uterus. These can be itchy and uncomfortable. Ask your doctor for over the counter hemorrhoids cream.
Varicose and spider veins : Circulation increases to send more blood to the developing baby. This causes tiny, red veins to appear on the skin. These are known as spider vein. They will eventually fade away after the baby is born. Pressure from the growing baby slows blood flow to the lower extremities. This causes veins in your legs to become swollen and purple or blue. These are called varicose veins. You may not be able to prevent varicose veins but you can prevent them from getting worse by doing the following :
- propping your legs up on a stool
- getting up and moving around most of the day
- wear support hose for extra support
If you start experiencing the symptoms below, it could be a sign of something very serious. Call your health care provider right away.
- severe dizziness
- severe abdominal pain and cramping
- rapid weight gain (more than 6.5 pounds per month) or too little weight gain (less than 10 pounds at 20 weeks into the pregnancy)
Second trimester of pregnancy : what to expect. Mayo Foundation. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20047732?pg=1. Accessed July 9, 2015
Changes in your body during the second trimester. American Academy of family physicians. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/pregnancy-newborns/your-body/changes-in-your-body-during-pregnancy-second-trimester.html. July 9, 2015