You’ve made it to the second trimester! It is during this trimester when women feel relief from morning sickness and food aversions and get some of their energy back. In this post, we will cover what you can expect to happen to your body as your baby is growing through the next 12 weeks.
This is the first week of your second trimester. I’ve heard the second trimester described as “a breath of fresh air” compared to the first. You should be getting some energy back and morning sickness usually subsides by now. The second trimester is also when your need for more calories becomes obvious. You should need more food to feel satisfied and also to help support the baby’s rapid growth. (1)
If your growing belly hasn’t started showing in the last couple of weeks, you most likely have a little bump by now. You also may notice that your nose is congested and you might even experience nose bleeds. This is due to the extra blood being made which causes excess fluid in the body. You should also be expecting to gain about 1lb per week starting in the second trimester. One pound per week is healthy weight gain for pregnancy and the extra fat storage is needed to keep the baby healthy. (2)
There are two ligaments (round ligaments) on each side of the uterus that support it. During the second trimester, these ligaments stretch and tighten, which can cause pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen. (3) You may also notice some gas and bloating by week 16. This is due to the hormone progesterone. An increase in progesterone causes your muscles to relax, and this includes your digestive tract. (4)
Due to your body creating more blood, your heart rate will be higher and there will be changes in your circulation. As a result, you may experience some dizziness. A couple of ways you can avoid dizziness are to avoid making sudden movements and going upside down. Your breasts and belly may also be itching at this point. This is due to the skin stretching in those areas. (5)
By week 18, you may start noticing swelling in your legs, feet, and hands. Swelling is normal and can especially happen if you’ve been on your feet all day. You may also notice leg cramps which can be caused by the swelling and the extra weight you are carrying. (6) Be sure to stay hydrated and rest when needed!
Around week 19 you may start to notice changes in your skin. These changes can include red palms, darkened spots on your face, and darkening of your nipples, scars, and freckles. These skin changes occur due to an increase in hormones (specifically estrogen) that affect cells that contain melanin. Melanin is what gives skin its color and people with more melanin have darker skin. You may also have a dark line that goes from the belly button to the pubic bone called “linea negra.” All of these skin changes will subside after the baby is born. (7)
You’re officially halfway through your pregnancy! This week you may start to notice that your nails and hair are thicker and longer. The growth and thickening are due to the increase in estrogen. And with your growing belly, you may be having a harder time getting comfortable when trying to sleep. Pregnancy pillows can be a huge help with this. (8) Follow this link to see different types.
This week you become more prone to varicose veins. Varicose veins can occur due to the growing uterus putting pressure on the veins that go to your legs, which can minimize circulation. Moving every day and wearing compression socks can help negate this. Week 21 is also the week you may start experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions do not indicate preterm labor and should be painless and infrequent. They are basically the uterus and abdominal muscles preparing for birth. If you do experience painful or continuous contractions at this time, contact your healthcare provider. (9)
As I mentioned earlier, varicose veins are caused by the uterus pressing on the veins that go to your legs and the extra blood flow moving through your body. This is also true for spider veins, which you may start to notice this week. Spider veins differ from varicose veins in that they do not bulge and tend to be smaller and red in color. Again, moving daily and wearing compression socks can help prevent these. (10)
There are no significant changes through these 3 weeks. You may just become more uncomfortable due to your growing belly. This can include having a hard time sleeping, lower back pain, and pelvic pain.
This late into your pregnancy you may start experiencing restless leg syndrome. RLS happens when you are trying to relax or sleep and have an irresistible urge to move your legs. The cause is unknown but avoiding caffeine and smoking can help decrease symptoms. You may also start to have urinary incontinence. Incontinence is when you either cannot hold your urine or lose some control of when you urinate. This can be due to more pressure on the bladder and relaxation of the muscles. Avoiding drinks like coffee, tea, and soda can help decrease incontinence. (11)
You have reached the end of the second trimester and are over halfway through your pregnancy! In the next post, we will go over symptoms and physical changes that occur in the third trimester including how your body will prepare itself to give birth.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact;
Nurturing Center of Lubbock
3303 66th Street
Lubbock, TX 79413
Phone: 806-780-6853 (available 24 hours)
Marlee Henn, RN
Marlee has been a nurse for two years and currently works in a functional medical clinic and part time in a long term acute care center. She has a passion for natural living, women’s health, and education.