What to expect in your second trimester

Goodbye, nausea and fatigue! Hello, glory days of pregnancy (hopefully). Here’s what you can expect in weeks 14 through 27.

Just when you thought you couldn’t stand to yawn through one more day at work or to eat another dry cracker to fend off nausea, your second trimester is finally here and the first-trimester fog is beginning to lift. This is the best part of pregnancy for most women, so enjoy it while it lasts. Here’s what you can expect.

Your changing body

While you may finally kiss queasiness and crippling exhaustion goodbye, a whole range of new pregnancy symptoms will appear this trimester. You may experience:

  • Breast enlargement
  • Weight gain
  • Growing belly
  • Backache
  • Skin changes, including brown patches on your face (melasma) and a dark line down the middle of your belly (linea nigra)
  • Nasal issues, including congestion and nosebleeds
  • Sensitive and bleeding gums
  • Dizziness
  • Leg cramps
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Round ligament pain (pain in the lower abdomen)
  • Quickening (flutters in your belly)
  • Braxton Hicks contractions (“practice” contractions)
  • Mild swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Varicose veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Vaginal discharge (leukorrhea)
  • Frequent urination
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Hair growth and thickening (on your head and possibly other areas)

There are some symptoms you should never ignore. Call your doctor right away if you experience:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Severe dizziness
  • Fever over 101.5F
  • Extreme thirst
  • Very frequent and heavy urination
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Severe swelling in the hands or face
  • Visual disturbances
  • Very fast or very slow weight gain

Your emotions

Because you’re probably feeling better physically, your outlook may be more positive this trimester. It’s a good time to get everything organized for your baby’s arrival before you start to feel heavy and tired again in the third trimester.

You might be feeling nervous or anxious about childbirth or becoming a parent. This is entirely normal and the best remedy is to read up on the topics that worry you as well as talk to other moms and moms-to-be about their experience. You might also be struggling to accept the changes in your body and you may feel forgetful or irritable. Try to be patient with yourself – pregnancy is both a beautiful and trying time.

Your to-do list

Attend all your prenatal appointments: You should see your healthcare provider approximately every four weeks during the second trimester. They will check your blood pressure and weight at each visit, as well as measure your baby’s growth, listen to their heartbeat and assess their movement. Ask any questions or raise any concerns you might have during these visits.

Schedule your 20-week scan: Around the 20-week mark (but it can vary between 18 and 22 weeks), your doctor will perform an ultrasound to check on your baby’s growth and development and to detect any fetal malformations or complications with the placenta. You’ll be able to spy your baby on screen and take photos home. 

Decide if you want to find out your baby’s sex: Your doctor should be able to tell you whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl at the 20-week scan, so discuss with your partner whether you want to find out or keep it a secret until birth.

Get second-trimester genetic tests done (if needed): If your first-trimester tests came back positive for a genetic abnormality, your doctor will probably want you to have an amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis. This procedure involves inserting a needle into your abdomen and removing a sample of amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac. You can also have a blood test known as the quad test between weeks 15 and 20 if you didn’t undergo any genetic screening in the first trimester (either because you didn’t know you were pregnant or you declined it and changed your mind).

Do your glucose screening: Between weeks 24 and 28, you’ll do a glucose tolerance test to detect gestational diabetes. If you have it, you’ll be put on a special diet and you’ll have to monitor your blood sugar levels until you give birth.

Talk to your doctor about maternal vaccines: You’ll need to be vaccinated against whooping cough and your doctor may also suggest getting the flu vaccine. If you have hepatitis B or you plan to travel overseas while you’re pregnant, you may need extra vaccines.

Meet with a doula: If having a doula assist you during the birth and postpartum is something you might be interested in, do some research about what it means to have a doula and meet with some potential candidates.

Find out about Placenta Encapsulation: It might sound strange, but placenta encapsulation, a practice called placentophagia, is becoming increasingly popular in the US as women seek out a smoother transition into motherhood. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that human placentophagia can help balance a woman’s hormones and women also frequently report an increase in their milk supply while taking their placenta capsules. Find out more about the practice in our article on Placenta Encapsulation.

Keep eating well and exercising: If you could only stomach certain foods or your pregnancy cravings got the better of you in the first trimester, now’s the time to focus on eating a balanced diet. During your second trimester, you’ll need an additional 300 to 350 calories per day if you were at a healthy weight before you got pregnant. Keep taking your prenatal vitamin to ensure you’re getting enough folic acid, iron and calcium. And keep up those 20 to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, but avoid exercises that involve high impact, lying on your back, excessive stretching, raising your body temperature too high, or forcing your abdominal muscles outwards.

Keep up the Kegels: Continue to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises. Squeeze the muscles that cut off your flow of urine, hold for five seconds, and release. Aim for three sets of 20 per day.

Start a baby registry: Now for the fun part – putting together your registry and celebrating your little one’s impending arrival at your baby shower! And now you can even create your registry directly on the Tot website to ensure you receive products that are made from high-quality, child-safe materials (and are oh-so-adorable too).

Plan your maternity leave: If you haven’t already, check your employer’s maternity leave policy and let them know when you plan to stop working and when you’ll return (if at all). Fill out any necessary paperwork to avoid delays in your payments.

Book classes and hospital tours: It’s a good idea to attend a childbirth class to prepare you for the big day, and you may also want to go to a breastfeeding or parenting class to learn additional skills. You can also take a tour of your hospital’s maternity ward or your birthing center. You’ll likely do all these things during the third trimester, but it’s a good idea to book them in now.

Your baby’s growth

During the second trimester, your baby is busy growing hair (in fact, its skin becomes covered in a fuzzy coat called lanugo that will fall off before birth!), as well as eyelashes and eyebrows. Its digestive and nervous systems start to function, and by week 22 your baby begins to hear, see and smell.

Around week 20 or 21, you should start to feel movement – a momentous occasion that will help you feel more connected to your baby. That little brain is developing quickly now, and it starts to control your baby’s heartbeat. It’s also around this time that your little one starts to suck their thumb. Amazing, isn’t it!

At the end of the trimester, your baby will be about the size of a cauliflower, measuring about 14 inches and weighing almost two pounds!