What to expect during your second trimester. Here’s everything you need to know about changes to your body and your baby from weeks 14 to 28 of your pregnancy.
Welcome to your second trimester. You’ve battled through morning sickness, tackled those pesky early pregnancy symptoms and survived the testing first three months. For many women, this is the stage when you can really start to enjoy your pregnancy and you may have shared the news with your friends and family by now.
You might have heard people talk about a pregnancy glow. This generally kicks in at around week 15. As nausea and morning sickness subsides, you may notice your skin starts to feel healthier and your hair looks shinier and thicker.
There’s also a lot going on with your baby, and a number of big milestones taking place during your second semester. By week 17 you may have felt some little flutters in your tummy as the foetus starts to move around in your uterus.
It’s an exciting stage of your pregnancy journey, however, some slightly less pleasant symptoms might also occur during your second trimester. Here’s a run-through of what’s happens to your body and your baby during this middle stage of your pregnancy.
Your Baby During the Second Trimester
At the beginning of your second trimester, around 14 to 17 weeks, your baby is about the size of an avocado. The foetus’ limbs and organs are continuing to grow and by the end of the trimester, it will be a recognisable baby shape. A number of crucial developments take place in months four to six.
- Your baby develops hair, skin and nails. By week 19 your baby’s skin will be covered in a ‘furry coat’ known as lanugo, as well as vernix caseosa – an oily layer protecting the foetus from the acidic amniotic fluid. By 22 weeks, your baby’s eyelashes, eyebrows and head hair will be starting to grow. From 26 weeks, your baby will be able to blink their eyelids.
- Their senses are developing. During the second trimester, your baby’s ears will move into their correct positions start to hear. By 22 weeks, baby will also start to be able to smell and see. At this stage, your baby even taste the foods you eat via the amniotic fluid. Some research suggests this can even influence their preferences outside of the womb.
- The heartbeat regulates. By week 17, the brain will be regulating your baby’s heartbeat. You should be able to hear the heart beating clearly with a stethoscope by week 20. At 25 weeks, the capillaries needed to carry oxygenated blood around the body begin to form.
Your Body During the Second Trimester
After perhaps not noticing many physical changes to your body during your first trimester, now’s the time you’ll start to see a big difference. Many women experience their breasts getting larger, and a baby bump taking shape. Your waist will thicken, too. However, some women won’t start to show until well into the second semester.
Towards the end of your second trimester, you might notice some changes to your skin. You may also get an itchy tummy. The is because the skin on your stomach can become dry and irritated as it stretches with your growing bump.
As well as physical changes, your hormone levels are still fluctuating and can cause a number of symptoms. At some point, you’ll probably experience the dreaded ‘baby brain’, but remember this is temporary and you can blame your hormones.
Second Trimester Symptoms
Although you’re most likely moving out of the morning sickness danger zone and beginning to enjoy your pregnancy, there are still some second-trimester symptoms to look out for.
As your uterus grows, it presses up against your diaphragm, leaving less room for your lungs to expand, which leaves many women experiencing breathlessness.
You may notice that you have become clumsier, dropping things or tripping more often – again, you can blame your hormones for this, which are causing your joints to loosen and your hands to swell.
Your gums can be very sensitive during your pregnancy, and may even bleed during brushing or flossing. Additionally, the vomiting from the morning sickness may have stripped away at the enamel on your teeth.
Cramps, particularly in your legs, are another common symptom during your second trimester. Often worse at night, make sure you stretch your calves before bed and keep drinking lots of water. To help relieve a cramp, try having a warm bath or and massaging the muscle.
Urinary Tract Infection
Unfortunately, you are more susceptible to a UTI during your pregnancy and infections are common during the mid months. You should contact your doctor if you have any of the symptoms, including backache, pain when you urinate and a fever.
The changes in your circulation during your pregnancy can leave you feeling light headed and dizzy.
Second Trimester Screening and Ultrasound
Most women typically have two ultrasounds during their pregnancy (however, some people may need or choose to have more). One is usually carried out in the first trimester and is used to give an idea of your baby’s due date.
A second ultrasound scan can take place at around 18 to 22 weeks. This scan, sometimes called the anatomy scan, checks the baby is developing normally and also determines the sex of your baby. The fun part comes deciding whether you want to find out, or keep it as a big surprise.
Can you Still Have an Abortion in Your Second Trimester?
In the UK, abortions can be carried out up to 24 weeks pregnant. In some exceptional circumstances, where the pregnancy has been deemed a risk to life, or there are severe problems with your baby’s development the pregnancy can be terminated later in the second trimester.
There are two types of abortion:
- A medical abortion (also known as the abortion pill), where medication is taken to terminate the pregnancy.
- A surgical abortion, which involves a minor surgical procedure to end the pregnancy.
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