2nd trimester of pregnancy

2nd trimester of pregnancy

The 2nd trimester of pregnancy continues to bring changes for both the mother and the growing baby, even if the external signs and manifestations are less significant compared to those appearing in the 1st trimester of pregnancy.

What is 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is normally broken into three periods called trimesters of pregnancy. Each of these trimesters is compose of three months. These distinctions are useful in describing the changes that take place in the pregnant women in nine pregnancy months. The 2nd trimester of pregnancy starts from pregnancy week 13 and last up to pregnancy week 28. The second trimester of pregnancy composes of your pregnancy 4 months, pregnancy 5 months and pregnancy 6 months.

2nd Trimester of Pregnancy Symptoms

Most women say the second trimester of pregnancy is the most comfortable and less tiring one, as the body adapts to all the changes. However, this doesn’t mean all pregnancy symptoms disappear: some of the pregnancy signs become milder, while others continue to manifest but less frequently than during the first trimester.

Nausea and vomiting usually go away but dizziness is still present as a result of the enlarged blood vessels and blood flow as well as due to pregnancy hormones. Congestion, snoring and nasal bleeding appear because of the swollen linings in nose and airways. Legs, face and arms continue to have a puffy aspect and cramps in feet and legs become more frequent due to the increasing weight in the upper body.

Also, belly enlarges and exerts more pressure on the stomach so digestive problems can appear. Joints aches and back pain can be present as well and in some women hemorrhoids form due to prolonged sitting and weight gain during pregnancy. Lungs are compressed so shortness of breath can also be present during this trimester.

Bleeding and Spotting in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

Spotting and bleeding shouldn’t be present once the 1st trimester of pregnancy is over but in some women, cervicitis – infection of the genital tract – can lead to occasional spotting. Also, this symptom can be present in women with hemorrhoids and can appear sometimes after sexual contact, in case the vagina is not properly lubricated.

Other situation in which bleeding can appear in the 2nd trimester is a miscarriage, but this time the symptom is associated with intense pain and cramps in the abdomen and a general feeling of malaise. This being a medical emergency, it requires immediate help from a doctor for preventing complications in the mother.

Diet in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

Diet during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy should be balanced and based mostly on fruits, vegetables and products rich in fibers, proteins, vitamin and minerals. Dark green veggies, leafy ones, fruits that don’t cause bloating, cereals and whole grains that regulate digestion, dairy products low in fats such as Greek yogurt or cottage cheese as well as lean meat and fish are essential for expecting moms in 2nd trimester pregnancy.

Water intake is also important as not drinking enough water as well as drinking too many fluids may stimulate retention and worsen the swelling of face, arms and legs. The calorie intake should be limited to the amount indicated by the nutritionist – usually around 2,200-2,400 calories, depending on the woman’s size, weight and lifestyle.

Moms-to-be should know weight gain during second trimester pregnancy will be significant as the baby develops rapidly and his or her body now produces blood as well. Also, placenta is fully formed and the amount of amniotic fluid inside the womb is significant, all these contributing to weight gain.

Vaginal Discharge in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

Just like in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, a thin, white-colored vaginal discharge may be noticed, this being normal as it’s the body’s way of suppressing or preventing the overgrowth of acidic bacteria and yeast inside the vagina. These bacteria can be harmful for the baby thus the organism eliminates any excess.

Still, in case the vaginal discharge becomes strong smelling, yellowish or green, accompanied by irritation, itching or redness in the genital area, the doctor should be announced as these signs may be the result of an infectious process that can put the mother or baby’s health at risk.

Tests to Take in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

The typical tests expecting moms should take in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy include:

  • Doppler ultrasounds, as they allow the doctor to check the baby’s development, to see whether the placenta is in normal condition or not, to see whether malformations are present and to observe the baby’s features clearer than in two-dimensional pictures.
  • Glucose screening, performed for eliminating the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
  • MSAFP (maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein) and other marker screenings, as these measure the levels of certain proteins produced by the baby’s body and indicate potential abnormalities, such as the Down syndrome or spina bifida.
  • Amniocentesis, which detects genetic disorders or neural tube defects. This test is performed between weeks 15 and 18 and it’s optional.
  • Cordocentesis or FBS (fetal blood sampling), as it allows the doctor to evaluate the risk of anemia and to measure blood oxygen level in the umbilical cord and fetus’ body. The test is performed starting with week 17 of pregnancy and can be used to screen for maternal Rh antibodies as well.

Changes in Your Body in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

As the levels of estrogen and progesterone continue to increase, breasts get larger and areolas get darker and larger. Also, breasts’ sensitivity increases and skin becomes itchy and gets covered by stretch marks. Belly continues to expand as the uterus makes room for the baby and Braxton Hicks contractions may be felt during pregnancy 2nd trimester.

As blood flow increases, the skin’s color changes slightly, certain areas becoming darker while others get covered by small spots. Sun exposure usually accentuates this symptom. Also, pink or reddish stretch marks appear on the thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms and belly in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. Hair becomes fuller and shinier, nails get stronger and the skin has a so-called “pregnancy glow”.

Precautions to Take in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

Expecting moms should avoid eating foods or doing exercises that cause overheating, as this can harm the baby and increase blood pressure. Also, they should avoid sleeping on the back or belly and should keep their feet slightly higher than the head while sleeping to keep leg and feet swelling under control and to prevent blood clotting.

Naps should be taken as often as needed if the mom feels tired or dizzy and the calorie intake should be adequate – pregnancy is not the right time for dieting, regardless of the weight gain during pregnancy. Postures and activities that cause cramps and pain in the abdomen should be avoided and stress should be reduced at a minimum. In case any unusual pregnancy symptoms appear, doctor should be called immediately as 2nd trimester in pregnancy still continues pose risk of miscarriage.

Exercises to Do in the 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy

While in the 1st trimester of pregnancy lots of women find it hard to exercise due to nausea episodes, things seem to be easier for the expecting moms starting with pregnancy 4 months.

Exercises that can be done during pregnancy second trimester include prenatal yoga or Pilates sessions, as these are specially designed for toning and shaping the body without putting the baby’s health at risk,. Kegel exercises should also be done as these will improve control over pushing during labor, reducing pain at the same time.

Other alternatives are swimming, water aerobics, walking or doing any other physical activity that’s low-impact and puts low stress on joints in legs, hips and spine. Heavy lifting, running and exercises that involve running on the back should be avoided during the second trimester.

If you’re curious to learn more about the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, make sure to take the time and read our interesting articles on pregnancy symptoms, pregnancy week by week and baby growth during pregnancy.

Last reviewed on 22/01/2013

Image credit: Illusive Photography (used under creative commons license)


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