The Second Trimester


Welcome to the second trimester of your pregnancy! This is often called the "honeymoon period" because many women experience decreased pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness that they suffered in their first trimester, and can finally enjoy increased appetite and energy. However, staying informed and prepared for the changes that may come your way is essential. A few pregnancy symptoms still catch many pregnant women by surprise during the second trimester, so we'll try to cover them all below.

You'll have had your 12-week scan by now, meaning you've finally been able to see your little one on an ultrasound and circulate the pictures around your friends and family, having them all cooing and excited for another addition to your household.

Here's a guide to your second trimester that should help you through this exciting phase of your pregnancy from week 13 to 27 and give you tips on how to make the most of it.

Baby Growth in the Second Trimester

As your baby ascends out of the pelvis into its newly expanded living quarters, your bump is just about to start showing - looking less like bloating as you experienced towards the end of your first trimester and more like a baby growing! In this trimester, a lot of development occurs in the baby's brain and body as it starts to look more and more human by the day. Your baby will grow from around 7.5cm in length and weigh 30 grams at the start of the second trimester to around 23cm, weighing over 800 grams. Get ready for that bump to pop!

Movement, Sound and Placental Growth

The newly formed placenta will take over your baby's oxygen supply, nutrients and energy during this trimester. This will relieve you and explain why you'll feel much more energised now that your body isn't providing energy for two.

Their features will also move into their rightful place, their limbs will become more proportionate, and by around week 19, the little one will start wriggling around, ready to kick and wriggle just as you try to sleep or relax. These should initially feel like a tickle, roll, or flutter and will get more noticeable as they grow. If this isn't your first pregnancy, you may feel flutters a little earlier.

By week 20, your baby can hear sounds outside the uterus and start to identify and recognise your voice. This is an excellent time for bonding for both you and your partner, as once they're born, they'll be able to recognise the voices they heard while growing. The sound of your heartbeat is particularly soothing, so add a white noise/heartbeat sound machine to your shower gift list for when they sleep!

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When Will You Find Out Your Baby's Sex?

By the end of this trimester, your baby will be fully formed with everything in the right place. You'll finally be able to find out the sex of the baby at your 20-week scan (unless you want it to be a surprise) and be able to start preparing their nursery for their arrival in just a few short months. You'll also be offered a blood test alongside your anomaly scan, which can help detect any cause for concern. If you did want to find out the sex of your baby, your sonographer could tell you at the appointment, or if you're planning a gender reveal, you can ask them to write it on a card for you to take away and give to the designated friend/family member to organise the reveal. Though initially an American tradition, gender reveals are becoming more common in the UK!

Physical Changes in Mum

During the second trimester, your baby will grow rapidly, meaning you may also experience some physical changes, such as weight gain, an expanding waistline and changes in your posture. It is essential to continue to eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay active to support your growing baby and maintain your well-being. Though the baby grows, they only need the extra calories in the third trimester. If you need help with healthy eating habits, consider consulting a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that meets your needs and goals. It is normal to gain around 1-2 lbs per week during this trimester, though every woman is different. Most pregnancy weight gain will come in the third trimester when your baby is also in the fat-building stage.

Back Pain and Discomfort

In addition to these changes, you may experience some common discomforts of the second trimester of pregnancy, such as back pain, headaches, leg cramps, thrush, constipation, and heartburn. To alleviate these symptoms, stay active, maintain good posture, stay hydrated, eat small, frequent meals, try wearing cotton underwear, and avoid soaps when washing down there. Incorporating pregnancy-safe exercises like walking or swimming can also help ease discomfort and promote physical and mental well-being. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about other safe exercises and stretches to help ease any discomfort.

Round ligament pain can catch you during this trimester too. It feels like a sharp pulling/stabbing pain on the sides of your bump. This is just as your uterus expands and your ligaments stretch to accommodate. You may find supporting your growing belly from underneath provides you with some relief.

Discharge and Breast Tenderness

Another of the more annoying symptoms of the second trimester of pregnancy is vaginal discharge. As the amount of blood flow in your pelvic area increases, it produces a higher volume of a milky fluid called leucorrhoea, your vagina's natural, built-in self-cleaning substance that keeps your vagina's pH levels balanced and keeps it clean. It is easy to mistake this for thrush or a vaginal infection, so visit your GP or midwife if you have any concerns with the colour, odour, or texture or come with any pain or irritation when peeing.

Your breasts may have gained size this trimester by around one to two cup sizes. This growth often comes with some breast tenderness and, sometimes, stretch marks. Of course, every woman is different, but looking at maternity bras without wires would be a good idea to provide more support and comfort across your bump and allow them to grow even more once your milk comes in post-pregnancy. Make sure to include your breasts in your moisturising anti-stretchmark routine!

Skin and Hair Changes

The second trimester of pregnancy brings many changes, including changes in your skin and hair. These changes can be attributed to hormonal fluctuations during this time. Some women may experience changes in their skin's appearance, while others may experience changes in their skin's texture or sensitivity.

Stretch Marks and Increased Pigmentation

One common skin change that occurs during the second trimester is the appearance of stretch marks. As the baby grows, the skin stretches, and the connective tissue in the skin may weaken, leading to stretch marks. While these marks are typically permanent, there are some creams and oils that can help reduce their appearance. These stretchmarks can cause the skin to feel itchy, so applying moisturiser twice daily can alleviate the itching and keep the skin full of moisture, reducing scarring.

Another skin change that can occur during the second trimester is increased pigmentation. This may result in the appearance of a dark line running down the centre of the abdomen, known as the linea nigra, or the development of dark patches on the face, known as melasma or the "mask of pregnancy". These changes typically resolve after delivery.

Oily Skin During Pregnancy

In the second trimester of pregnancy, hormonal changes can also change the level of oils in your skin. People often talk about the 'glow of pregnancy', but this is likely just describing the oily skin you'll be getting around the middle of your pregnancy; sorry! With oily skin, acne can come, so ensure you are still keeping up with your skincare regime, using products designed for oily skin to encourage the balance of your skin's pH and moisturise it well.

Some chemicals within beauty products and toiletries are not advised to be used during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester and second trimester. These include:

  • Retinol (a derivative of Vitamin A, which should be limited)
  • Oxybenzone and Avobenzone (found in sun lotion)
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Hydroquinone
  • Parabens
  • Aluminium Chloride (found in many antiperspirants)
  • Pure Natural Oils including Jasmine, Clary Sage, Rosemary, and Sage. (Usually fine in other natural products as they are heavily diluted)

It is recommended not to start using new products until your third trimester and to consult your doctor/midwife if unsure.

Hair Changes in Pregnancy

You may notice your hair getting thicker and shinier in your second trimester, from week 15 onwards, due to increased pregnancy hormone oestrogen. This lengthens the growth cycle of your hair follicles, meaning less hair will fall out and more on your head. Some women see a decrease in oestrogen if, for example, they stopped the contraceptive pill before falling pregnant and their hormones are out of sync or experiencing an imbalance. This decrease in oestrogen causes their hair cycle length to shorten, allowing more hair to regenerate and more to fall out.

Just like your skin, your hair will also appear shinier. This is due to the increased androgen in your body, making the hair appear healthier and shinier. Some women also experience a change in their hair's texture or oiliness. If you have straight or wavy hair, you may see your natural curls getting more defined, or if you previously had a dry scalp, you could see it becoming oilier. Sometimes these changes revert after birth; however, some women experience a permanent texture change.

Prenatal Care

During your second trimester, you will continue to have regular prenatal appointments with your healthcare provider. These prenatal appointments and care are crucial during the second trimester to check fetal development, that everything is progressing as it should, and that both mother and baby are happy and healthy. These second-trimester checkups will also determine whether you've developed pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, or preeclampsia that could affect where or how you give birth.

During pregnancy, particularly during the second trimester, it is important to monitor your baby's growth, health and, of course, your health and well-being. Your provider may also perform routine tests, such as an ultrasound and blood work, to check for potential complications.

Your First Midwife Appointment

You'll have a few appointments with your midwife during the second trimester of pregnancy, which can include listening to your baby's heartbeat on a Doppler, reviewing any blood test results, checking your blood pressure, urine and heart rate, and the growth of your bump. If you didn't have your 12-week scan in your first trimester, you'll need to book in with a sonographer and have some blood tests performed. The scan will date your pregnancy and give you an expected due date. The blood tests will screen for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down's syndrome. This screening is optional.

Your next midwife appointment will be at around 16 weeks, where you'll review the blood test results, and you'll get to listen to your baby for the first time! Then, around 18-20 weeks, is your next scan, followed by a 25-week appointment with your midwife if this is your first pregnancy, to see how you're doing and check your emotional well-being.

Prenatal Mental Health

Taking care of your mental and emotional health during this time is essential. Pregnancy can be physically and mentally draining and a rollercoaster of emotions, and it is normal to feel anxious or fearful about childbirth, parenting, and other big life changes. If you need additional support, consider joining a prenatal support group or speaking with a mental health professional. Your midwife or GP will be your first point of contact, who can offer support or refer you to someone more specialist. Make sure to attend your prenatal appointments and communicate openly with your healthcare provider about any concerns or questions about your pregnancy, baby, or mental and physical health. Many people have heard about post-natal depression, but prenatal depression is often ignored, and many women don't realise they have it in order to get help.

Antenatal Classes

Around 20 weeks is a great time to start thinking about antenatal classes. Not only can you make friends in in-person groups, but many online options can give you all the information you need, from trained professionals, from the comfort of your sofa.

These childbirth classes can guide you through everything from what to expect during labour, your birth and pain relief options, possible complications, hypnobirthing, birthing positions and breathing techniques, to what to take to the hospital, how to bathe baby, how to change nappies, breast and bottle feeding, identifying PND and even baby first aid. We find it's best to have all the information and go into labour with your eyes open and prepared for every eventuality; after all, knowledge is power!

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Emotional Changes

Along with the physical changes of pregnancy, you may also experience emotional changes thanks to pregnancy hormones. Many women report feeling a sense of excitement and anticipation during the second trimester as they begin to prepare for the arrival of their baby. However, it is also common to experience anxiety or fear about childbirth, parenting, and other life changes. It is important to take care of your emotional well-being during this time. This may include seeking support from loved ones, joining a prenatal support group, or speaking with a mental health professional.

When To Tell Your Family About Your Pregnancy

For many pregnant women, their growing baby bump in this trimester is the reality check they need for their hormones to balance out and finally get excited! You may finally feel a little more level-headed and able to celebrate now the secret's out! Many women wait until their 12-week scan to tell friends and family about the upcoming addition, but go by your timeline and wait until it feels right. It's okay to keep it an exciting secret for as long as you want! Many women say this is their favourite part of pregnancy; no more morning sickness (if you're still sick, you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum and need to consult your GP), increased appetite, fewer mood swings and the return of your sex drive! Enjoy it!

Vivid Dreams During Pregnancy

It's also common to start having vivid dreams during the second trimester, which continue to occur during your third trimester as your hormone levels rise even more. This is a normal and natural way for your body to deal with emotions. It can be quite interesting to think about what your dreams mean and what emotions drive them!

Preparing for Baby

The second trimester is a great time to prepare for your baby's arrival. This may include setting up the nursery, buying baby gear and clothing, and creating a birth plan, including where you'd like to give birth. It is also a good time to decide whether you'd like to find the sex at your 20-week scan and start picking out baby names!

When To Tell Your Employer You're Pregnant

You'll also want to start thinking about when you'll tell your employer, when you'll want to take your maternity leave, your rights, how long you might want off, and consider saving up to cover any loss of income while you're on leave, if necessary.

Preparing the Body for the Third Trimester

You may also want to start preparing your body for the later stage of pregnancy and birth and addressing any pain in your back and hips caused by your growing baby bump. You can visit a women's health professional or an osteopath for a personalised care plan to ready your body, or you can head online for some expert-led antenatal pilates and yoga classes created to help pregnant women strengthen their loosening joints, better support their growing uterus and learn valuable breath control, needed during labour.

The next fifteen weeks are going to be filled with appointments, celebrations and growth; if you're unsure about anything, need to do a bit more research, or are looking for a great deal on antenatal classes, Your Baby Club are here for you with tips, anecdotes from real parents and tonnes of offers waiting, hand-picked, especially for you.

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Articles shown are a mixture of informative pieces, anecdotal accounts and professional advice from our panel of Bloggers, Writers and Experts. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view of this site.