The much anticipated and duly deserved second trimester is upon you. Are you ready for your second trimester glow-up? The promises of renewed energy, and reduced nausea, plus the beauty benefits of a pregnancy glow are all real (for most mommies). So why this sudden shift? And what can you do to maximize the middle phase of pregnancy? Let’s unpack that here:
What is The Second Trimester?
The second trimester accounts for weeks 14 - 27 and is known as the middle phase of pregnancy. It’s during this phase that your baby bump really begins to show and you first feel your baby moving inside you. This is also the phase of pregnancy when most expectant mothers catch a second wind. Once the placenta takes over hormone production (around the end of your first trimester) your morning sickness typically lessens or disappears completely, which opens you up to a whole new world of opportunity. Food looks and smells good again (and you’re actually keeping it down), as a result you have more energy, and with the additional blood volume you might even be experiencing that pregnancy flush and glowing skin everyone talks about.
How Your Body Changes During The Middle Phase of Pregnancy
As in the first trimester, rapid changes are continuing to happen well into your second trimester. Some of the more notable changes include:
Expanding baby bump: As your uterus continues to expand to make room for the baby, so will your waistline. The second trimester is a great time to start stocking up on maternity clothes since you’ll most likely need them from here on out.
Weight gain: Most women gain anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds during their first trimester, while some see no weight changes at all. As your nausea decreases and your appetite returns in the second trimester –you’ll naturally start to gain more weight. Moving forward, you should expect to gain 1 to 2 pounds a week for a total weight increase of 25 to 35 pounds by delivery day.
Constipation, Heartburn, Gas: Another charming symptom that’s more prevalent in the second trimester is constipation and indigestion. With the uptick in pregnancy hormones relaxing muscles in your digestive tract, you’ll notice that bowel movements are less frequent and more difficult or painful. Gas builds up as a result of sluggish digestion and can cause belly pain, bloating, cramps, burping, and flatulence. There are also physical reasons why you’re experiencing digestive discomfort, as your growing baby takes up more abdominal space they put pressure on your stomach, forcing acid up into the esophogus causing heartburn. Our Prenatal Probiotic can help alleviate those symptoms by supporting your digestive tract with 6.2 billion CFU's (colony forming units) per serving.
Stretch marks: You may have noticed white, pink, or darker toned stretch marks appearing on your breast in the first trimester. Now that your belly is beginning to expand you may develop them on your stomach, hips, and butt as well. Although they might never fully go away, they will mostly fade with time. Consider them your badge of honor for bringing new life into the world.
Skin changes: Hormonal changes during pregnancy stimulate an increase in melanin (pigment-bearing cells) which can cause dark areas to appear on your skin. You may notice the “mask of pregnancy” or melasma forming on your face, or a dark line forming from your belly button down toward your pubic bone (linea negra). These skin changes are common and typically fade after delivery. Some women develop a “pregnancy glow” as a result of an increase in blood volume and oil production that gives a flushed appearance and a nice youthful glow to the skin.
Braxton Hicks contractions: As you approach the end of your second trimester, many women experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions are not active labor contractions and are described as a tightening of your abdomen –they are mild, sporadic, and do not worsen over time. If you experience steady contractions that become more frequent or increase in intensity with time– this could be a sign of preterm labor.
Leg cramps: Nighttime (or daytime) leg cramps are very common throughout the second trimester. The increase in blood volume during pregnancy can cause slower circulation, leading to swelling and cramping. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, wearing comfortable shoes, staying physically active, and stretching before bed can help to alleviate them.
Nasal congestion: Another symptom caused by an increase in blood volume is nasal congestion. As your hormone levels increase and your body creates more blood, your mucus membranes swell resulting in stuffiness and a higher likelihood of having nosebleeds. Drinking lots of water throughout the day can help to alleviate sinus congestion, along with the use of saline drops and a humidifier at bedtime.
Difficulty sleeping: Now is the time to invest in a pregnancy pillow (if you haven’t already). Their ergonomic design is perfect for your expanding baby bump and encourages a safer sleeping position for you and your baby. Sleeping on your left side is recommended as it relieves pressure on your liver and improves circulation –having a pillow between your legs also helps facilitate blood flow. Sleeping on your back can compress the main blood vessel supplying blood to your uterus, and possibly reduce blood flow to your baby.
How Is Baby Changing During The Second Trimester?
During the second trimester your fetus will begin to look more like a child. Their rapid growth will make their presence known as you begin to feel their movements inside you. By the end of the second trimester, most babies are capable of surviving a preterm delivery with proper medical intervention (via a neonatal intensive care unit).
Some notable changes for your baby include:
- Their organs are fully formed and begin to function
- Baby can roll from side to side and kick
- They’re actively swallowing amniotic fluid to prepare for breast milk
- Eyelids, eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair begin to form
- Baby will begin to grow in length and weight
- They can suck their thumb
- They can hear and learn to distinguish your voice
- The placenta is fully developed
- Fingerprints and toeprints have formed
- Baby is covered in a white creamy substance called vernix to protect their skin
Second Trimester Prenatal Care
Although you may be feeling amazing –and better with each passing day– it’s important to remember that special care should be taken throughout the duration of your pregnancy to protect your health, and that of your developing baby.
Things You Should Continue:
Seeing your OB/GYN: Throughout the second trimester your medical provider should want to see you about every four weeks. As you move closer to your delivery date –or if you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy with complications– they will increase the frequency of these visits as needed.
Prenatal vitamins: With the lack of nausea in the second trimester, you’re hopefully eating a far more balanced diet than the ginger ale and crackers you survived on throughout the first trimester. Even still, you should be taking a quality prenatal vitamin daily. Our Total Prenatal + DHA has 100% of the daily values for pregnant women and ensures you’re getting the proper nutrients and vitamins needed for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
Exercising daily: You should be aiming for 20-30 minutes of physical activity each day. Walking, yoga, and swimming are great low-impact exercises for pregnant women, but any activity that promotes cardiovascular health without putting you or your baby’s safety at risk is good.
Drinking lots of water: Pregnant women should be consuming 8-12 cups of water a day throughout the entirety of their pregnancy. Not only will this relieve cramping, and increase your likelihood of having glowy skin, it’s critical to the wellbeing of your baby. Dehydration while pregnant can lead to serious pregnancy complications, including neural tube defects, decreased amniotic fluid, inadequate breast milk production, and preterm labor.
Having sex: All that estrogen kicks your libido into high-gear during the second trimester –if you find yourself wanting sex more during this time, go for it. Experiment with positions until you find one that’s comfortable for you, and as long as your doctor hasn’t given you any restrictions on sexual activity, you should be able to have sex up until delivery. If you are concerned about the baby, no worries, they’re protected by your cervix and cushioned by their surrounding amniotic fluid.
Eating a balanced diet: Foods that are high in Iron, Calcium, Folate, Vitamin D, Protein, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids should be on your plate morning, noon, and night. Folate is critical in preventing neural tube defects like spina bifida. If you’re concerned about getting adequate amounts of Folate through your regular diet, our Folate capsules provide the L-5 form of Folate which is more absorbable than Folic Acid so one capsule a day provides 100% of the values for pregnant women.
Monitoring your body: Continue monitoring for swelling of the hands and face, severe cramping, heavy bleeding, and changes in vaginal discharge, as they are all cause for concern throughout your pregnancy. Your medical provider should be monitoring your blood pressure at each visit, and tracking your weight to rule out potential complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. If you feel something is off it’s best to discuss those concerns with your doctor as soon as possible, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Things You Should Avoid:
The following are things that should be avoided for the entire duration of your pregnancy:
- Raw or undercooked meat, eggs, and fish
- Soft cheeses such as brie, blue cheese, and feta
- Fish with high levels of mercury
- Caffeine (limited amounts)
- Cold cuts (deli meat that isn’t heated to steaming prior to consuming)
- Cat litter boxes
- Hot tubs or saunas
- Illegal drugs
- Delaying or refusing prenatal care
- Holding your pee (you’re more prone to urinary tract infections while pregnant)
The second trimester is arguably the best trimester. It’s a great opportunity to do the things you weren’t feeling up to in the first trimester, and probably won’t be comfortable doing in the third. It’s a perfect time to start “nesting” or prepping for the baby's arrival such as; discussing or drawing up a birth plan, packing your hospital bag, installing the car seat, finalizing the nursery, touring the labor and delivery floor of your hospital, enrolling in a birthing class, and spending quality time with your partner.
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