Changes in Your Body During Pregnancy: Second Trimester
As you complete 12 weeks of pregnancy, you advance into the second trimester. This begins in week 13 and last up to week 27 of your pregnancy. This is going to be a relatively easy and pleasant experience as compared to the first trimester. You and the growing baby will undergo some incredible changes!
Feeling of wellness
The second trimester is a period of feeling of wellness. You may feel more energetic, fresh, and active. Your feeling of vomiting will subside. So, the sickness will disappear. Other features of the first trimester like dizziness and frequent urination will disappear.
You will gain weight more rapidly. You will also develop a bulging tummy and start looking pregnant. Your womb will grow out of the pelvis higher into the belly. By 16th week, the top of the growing womb can be felt midway between the pelvic bone and navel; by the end of the second trimester, it would have reached around 2 inches above the navel. You can make a choice of some good and comfortable maternity dresses.
Movement of the baby
If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel your baby move and kick between 18 to 22 weeks after your last menstrual period (LMP). If you have been pregnant earlier, you may feel the movements earlier, say around week 16. Your baby constantly moves in the womb and is surrounded by water. The feeling of these movements is called ‘quickening’. You may feel your baby move several times in a day. If any day, you feel the baby isn’t moving just enough, you should contact your doctor.
Your breasts will continue to get bigger and heavier, as they accumulate fat and mature to produce milk. The pain and unease you felt in the breasts will however decrease. Some blue vessels will be visible under the skin of the breasts, and stretch marks may develop. Around 16 to 19 weeks, you may notice a thin yellow discharge from the nipples. This is called ‘colostrum’. Your breasts are now preparing to nurture the baby when born.
Stretch marks are pink, red, or silvery white streaks that develop on the skin of the breasts, abdomen, thighs, or arms. These are believed to develop due to the action of hormones that stretch the tissues under the skin. Some may itch. These are also called ‘striae gravidarum’. Stretch marks may fade with time after delivery. Some creams and oils may help.
Other skin changes
Your skin may show some peculiar changes. You may develop dark patches on your face. This is called ‘mask of pregnancy’ or ‘chloasma’. A dark line called ‘linea nigra’ may develop on your growing belly from navel to the pelvis. These fade away after delivery. These are pigment changes and may be caused by pregnancy hormones stimulating the production of pigment in the skin. Increasing levels of the hormone estrogen can cause your palms to become red. Tiny red radiating thread like vessels may be visible under the skin of chest, neck, or face. These are called ‘angiomas’ or ‘vascular spiders’ and may go away after delivery. Besides these, your skin may become itchy, blotchy, or develop acne. If any of these get too distressing, it is good to see a doctor. Large blue vessels may become evident in the legs. Again it is due to hormonal changes. You should avoid standing for very long periods to prevent them.
You may revive your interest in sex as your feeling of wellbeing returns in the second trimester. You may have lost interest in sex in the first trimester due to fatigue, vomiting, or sick feeling. During the second trimester, increased blood flow to the pelvis and breasts can give you a renewed interest in sex. It is okay to have sex when pregnant unless your doctor has advised to abstain.
Other second-trimester changes
Your growing womb may show some mild and intermittent contractions called the Braxton Hicks contractions. These are infrequent and not rhythmic. You may just relax and change your posture or activity. These are practice contractions as your womb has started to prepare to contract for the delivery of the baby after pregnancy is complete.
You may develop nose bleeds and bleeding from gums and teeth. This happens because the blood flow to them increases. The lining of the nose swells and begins to bleed and the gums get soft. These may bleed when brushing, flossing, or even spontaneously. Use a soft toothbrush and maintain hygiene in the mouth. You can gently pinch your nose and avoid blowing when it bleeds.
You may develop leg cramps. This is because of circulatory changes that cause blood to accumulate in the legs. You can just massage your legs and talk a short walk. If however, you develop painful swollen calves with fever, you probably are developing clots in the vessels of the legs. You should see a doctor without any further delay.
You may develop a short breath as the hormones stimulate the respiratory center in the brain and the lungs to breathe deep to enable better oxygen supply to the growing baby.
You may develop a thin, watery, and odorless discharge from the vagina due to hormonal changes affecting your genitals. This discharge is acidic in nature and keeps your birth canal sterile and free of infections. If however, the discharge gets foul-smelling, greenish or yellowish, thick, or your genitals start to itch or burn, you should see a doctor.
As your womb grows out of the pelvis, it no longer irritates the urinary bladder to increase the frequency of urination. The growing womb may press upon the bladder and lead to stasis. In addition, the hormone, progesterone relaxes the bladder and the ureters, pipes that carry urine from kidneys to the bladder. This predisposes to urinary infections. If you have pain or burning when passing urine, you need to see a doctor.
The feel good factor
The second trimester gives you a pregnant look and feel. You may be exhilarated to feel the kicks of your baby in the womb. Your baby grows amazingly and gains weight and length. The baby develops eyes, ears, fingernails, and genitals. Urine formation begins and the baby can now swallow. By the end of the second trimester, your baby will weigh around 2 to 3 pounds and will be 13 to 16 inches long. Marvelous indeed!