Second Trimester

The next three months bring lots of changes for your growing fetus and most likely, welcome relief from pesky early pregnancy symptoms for you. Here’s more on what to expect in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Your baby is very, very busy in the second trimester. For one thing, he’s sprouting hair, his ears and eyes are moving into their correct positions, and he’s starting to suck and swallow.  By week 18 of pregnancy, he weighs about as much as a chicken breast, he can yawn and hiccup (so cute!), and he’s got fingerprints on those tiny digits. By week 21 of pregnancy you should be able to feel his newly coordinated arms and legs give you little jabs and kicks and in week 22 of pregnancy , his developing senses start to smell, taste, see, and hear. By six months, your baby takes a cue from you and starts to pack on the pounds; in fact, he’ll likely double his weight in the next four weeks. Capillaries are forming to carry blood through his body and those little eyes are starting to open. By the end of your second trimester, you’ll have a two-pound human in your belly!

For Mom, the start of the second trimester often means less queasiness and more energy. And you’re probably peeing less and showing more. Certain symptoms may persist (such as heartburn and constipation) and others may pop up for the first time. Don’t be surprised if you’re congested (you may even snore!) or mildly swollen around the ankles and feet. And be prepared for sensitive gums, leg cramps, dizziness, and an increased appetite. Other possible pregnancy symptoms include skin changes, achiness in the lower abdomen, and varicose veins and/or hemorrhoids. All are perfectly normal and temporary — and so are feelings of apprehension, irritability, forgetfulness, and frustration at looking positively plump but not definitively pregnant.

There may be some big changes in the bedroom as well during the second trimester. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on your sex life as you and hubby cope with your changing body (he might be turned on while you’re turned off — or vice versa) and mood-killing symptoms like fatigue and nausea. Some (lucky) ladies find themselves hotter than ever, with extra blood flowing to all the right spots. A few things to keep in mind: Communication is key to avoiding resentment, so keep talking through the dry spells. And remember — sex will neither hurt your fetus nor scar him emotionally. In fact, he’d probably enjoy a little rocking and rolling!

At the doctor’s office, expect routine monitoring for the next several weeks. Your practitioner will check your weight, the size of your uterus, height of your fundus (top of your uterus), and the baby’s heartbeat. You’ll probably be scheduled for a second ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy, which allows your doctor to measure the baby, check the developing organs, determine the amount of amniotic fluid, and — if you like — clue you in on your baby’s gender. Between 14 and 22 weeks of pregnancy you’ll likely have a quad screening as well; this blood test measures the levels of four substances produced by your baby and passed into your bloodstream. The results can indicate increased risk factors for chromosomal or congenital abnormalities such as Down syndrome or neural-tube defects. Amniocentesis , during which amniotic fluid is extracted and analyzed for genetic abnormalities, is typically performed between weeks 16 and 18 of pregnancy (if you decide to have one). Despite all this testing, keep in mind that most babies are born healthy. Words to live by now: Eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest. Two down, one to go!

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