The Second Trimester of Pregnancy- All you need to know

What is the second trimester of pregnancy?

Once the first trimester is completed, comes the second trimester of pregnancy as a ray of sunshine. This is the best phase of pregnancy which consist of 3 months in total ..i.e 4th,5th, and 6 month of pregnancy.

The common early symptoms of pregnancy i.e nausea and vomiting decrease to a great extent in this duration. The body starts adjusting to the hormonal influx of pregnancy. Most of the women feel happy and healthy with a beautiful glow on their faces. They can eat most of the food now and start gaining weight.

Important tests to be done in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy:

  • Nuchal scan

This is the special Sonography to detect Neuro tubal defect commonly known as NTD scan. Though recommended in all cases, those having a family history of Down syndrome or Spina Bifida should not miss it.

It can be done between 11 to 13 weeks but sometimes as late as 15 weeks can detect NTD.

  • A specialized blood test

Test like Double marker, Triple marker, and Quadriplet marker along with NTD scan helps in the screening of high-risk cases of genetic diseases like Down syndrome. These blood tests can be done from 13 to 17 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Anamoly scan

This is a 3D Sonography done around 19 to 22nd weeks of pregnancy to detect any anomalies in the fetus. This is a very important scan not to be missed.

  • Haemoglobin testing

Repeat Haemoglobin testing in the second trimester is advised as there may be a physiological dip in Hb.

  • Screening for Gestational Diabetes

Blood screening for Diabetes is done towards the end of this trimester as Gestational Diabetes can be on the rise.

  • Indirect Coombs Test

Those with Negative Blood Group and partner having a positive blood group should go for a Specialized test known as Indirect Coombs Test which measures Rh antibodies in Mother’s blood.

Read in detail about tests during the second trimester

Physiological changes during the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

  • Weight Gain

You will start gaining weight. Watch out, Ladies! Slow n steady wins the race.

  • Changes in breasts

The breast will be painful and shows enlargement. The areola (the area around the nipple) will darken.

  • Pregnancy bump

A pregnancy bump will be seen.

  • Hair loss and/or acne

A few pregnant ladies may experience hair loss and acne on the face.

  • Skin changes

Hormonal changes in pregnancy can stimulate an increase in pigments bearing cells called melanin which can give brown patches on the face called Melasma. Few may start to have stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, and legs. Applying cream or oil can help reduce the occurrence of stretchmarks.

  • Dental changes

Gums can be more sensitive or swollen and bleed while brushing. Switching to softer brushes and frequent plain water gargles helps to reduce it. Keep up your dental care and hygiene, ladies!

  • Vaginal discharge

Colourless or white discharge without itching and smell is normal in pregnancy. Inform your doc if it is greenish or yellow, has a foul smell, and gives you itching and pain.

Emotional changes in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy  

  • Emotionally this a quite a happy phase of pregnancy. Feeling of pregnancy sinks in and most pregnant women feel happy and confident.
  • The feeling of the baby’s movements or kicks around 5 months gives a different high to the women.
  • Rapid Changes in the body and an increase in weight may increase anxiety levels in the second trimester of pregnancy.
  • All in all, they are in a happy phase, and gradually nature starts preparing them for motherhood.

Fetal development week by week

 Development in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

  • Week 13

Your baby is beginning to form urine and release it into the amniotic fluid. His /her bones harden.

  • Week 14 

Cheer up…your baby’s neck is more defined now. The baby weighs approx 45 gms and is 3 and a half-inch long from crown to rump.

  • Week 15

Your baby is growing rapidly. On the baby’s scalp, the hair pattern is forming.

  • Week 16 

Take a bow ladies….your baby’s head is erect and eyes can slowly move. Limb Movement is more coordinated but sorry, still too slight to be felt by you.

  • Week 17

Toenails start developing.

  • Week 18 

Don’t gossip ladies! Your baby’s ears begin to stand out on the sides of the head and he /she begins to hear sounds. The baby is 5 and a half-inch long and 200gms in weight now.

  • Week 19 

A greasy n cheesy coating covers the body now which protects it from abrasions and trauma.

  • Week 20

Congratulations! You have reached halfway into your pregnancy. And the best part of this week is that you can start feeling the movement of your baby. Take care to keep your voice low and gentle as he/she is sleeping and waking and you don’t want to disturb their cycle.

320 gms weight and 6 and a half-inch length..wow!

  • Week 21

The Suckling reflex is developing and few lucky ones can see the baby sucking thumb on Sonography.

  • Week 22

The Baby’s eyebrow and hair are visible. The baby may be one pound or 460 gms and 7 and a half-inch long.

  • Week 23

Rapid eye movement starts this week. Foundation of fingerprints and footprints getting laid.Wait, I heard hiccups too.

  • Week 24

Your baby is 8 inches long from crown to rump and more than 630 gms weight.

  • Week 25

Good news parents..! Baby can respond to familiar sounds like your voice with movements.

  • Week 26 

Important work is going on inside your baby’s body. Lungs are beginning to produce a substance called surfactant which will help the baby in respiration. Baby is 9 inches long with 820 gms weight!

  • Week 27

Good, you have reached the end of the second trimester safely. The Baby’s nervous system is continuing to mature. Your baby is getting fat and smart.

Diet in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy 

  • Continue to take a balanced diet containing protein, carbohydrate, fats, and vitamins.
  • Add food that contains more Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D which will help the baby grow strong bones and teeth. Take dairy products, Greek yoghurt, Broccoli, Carrots, and Cabbage.
  • Include food containing Omega 3 Fatty Acid which helps in brain development of baby like dry fruits, Peanut butter, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, and Cheese.

Foods to avoid in the second trimester of pregnancy

  • Unpasteurized products like Unpasteurized milk, milk products n juices.
  • Coffee or drinks with caffeine should be restricted to one or two.
  • Alcohol is a complete no-no in the second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Artificial sweeteners should be used in moderation. Its always better to use natural sweeteners like honey, jaggery, maple syrup and date syrup.

Common ailments of the second trimester of pregnancy  

Backache

An increase in your weight and the size of the uterus can put pressure on back muscles and gives backaches. Wear comfortable shoes, do back stretching, and take good care of your posture.

Heartburn and Constipation

Due to hormonal changes, you may have heartburn and constipation  Take small meals 4 to 5 times daily. Add more fibre to your diet to relieve Constipation. Drink a lot of liquids.

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are swollen vessels around the anus which may form due to increase blood circulation and pressure from the size of the uterus. It can give pain and bleed while passing stools. Sitting in a warm water tub and applying haemorrhoids ointment may help reduce symptoms.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps, especially at night, are common at this time. Drink plenty of water, keep intake of salt adequate, stay physically active, wear comfortable footwear, and don’t forget to do stretches before you sleep. Massage your feet lightly if you like so.

Urinary tract infections

Bacterial Urinary infections are common in the second trimester. The growing size of the uterus may make it harder to empty the bladder, causing infections.

Preterm Pain

This is one symptom every Gynaecologist is scared of. Preterm labour pains or contractions in this trimester can lead to preterm delivery with the risk of prematurity. Inform your doctor as soon as you have tightness or mild pain in the lower abdomen. Bed rest and medicines can stop preterm pain if started on time.

What can you expect in the second trimester from your doctor?

  • On every visit, your doctor will check your blood pressure and weight.
  • The doctor will check the height of the uterus and check the heartbeat of your baby. You will be asked about fetal movements.
  • The second trimester requires you to eat a perfectly balanced diet. Your doctor may give you a diet chart to follow.
  • Physical fit women can have easy and comfortable labour. Ask your doc the exercises and stretches you can do.
  • Starting breathing exercises can help you ease pain during active labour. Ask the doctor if you don’t know.
  • Continue taking Iron and calcium and folic acid supplements.

Stay happy, stay safe and active and this wonderful phase of pregnancy shall pass smoothly and happily. Let us know in the comments if you found the article useful and ask your doubts. Don’t forget to share it with someone who may need it.

Take care.

About the author

Dr Meenal Dhabalia, M.D (Gynaecologist & Obstetrician) 

She has a robust experience of 25 years as an Infertility Consultant, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist,

LapaDr. Meenal Dhabaliaroscopic surgeon. Her expertise in Infertility treatment, High-risk pregnancy and Gynaec endoscopy is well known. She is the Medical Director of Aditi IVF and Medical Centre, Dattani Park, Kandivali East, Mumbai. She is also the Chief Consultant in Aditi Superspeciality Hospital, Asha Nagar, Kandivali East Mumbai.

Read also- The First 1000 days of Baby’s Life- What You Should Know

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