The second trimester of pregnancy is the time from week 13 to week 27 of your pregnancy. A lot of women find that this time is the easiest part of pregnancy. This is because a number of the physical symptoms of pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, morning sickness, and fatigue experienced during the first trimester will ease up or completely disappear during the second trimester. Also, the physical discomforts of late pregnancy have yet to begin. Different changes will come with each specific week of your pregnancy. Below is a run-down, by week, of common changes to your body that you should expect.
Your hormones will level off and your nausea will stops. Your energy level should rise. Another positive highlight of this time is that your risk of having a miscarriage drops drastically. Heartburn may become a problem. Eating papaya has been known to relieve the symptoms. Another common problem during this time is constipation. Make sure you get plenty of fiber in your diet to avoid this. If you had a reduction in your sex drive, you may find it returning now. Week 14 is the earliest possible time to consider having an amniocentesis, which is a test that is used to detect genetic abnormalities and determine the well-being of the fetus.
Your heart will be enlarged in order to handle your increased blood volume. It is now pumping out 20% more blood than it did before you became pregnant. The top of your uterus is now half way between your pubic bone and belly button and can easily be felt.
Many women experience the first detectable movements of the baby during this week. If you don’t feel any movement, don’t worry, especially if you are a first-time mom. Many first-time moms don’t feel any movement from the baby until 22-24 weeks into their pregnancy.
Prenatal testing for birth defects can be done between 15 and 18 weeks. There are a few different tests you can have done, such as an AFP (alpha-fetoprotein), which is done by taking blood from you and screening it for abnormalities. Other tests such as amniocentesis are far more invasive and involve taking a sample of amniotic fluid to test for abnormalities. Sleeping on your stomach will be uncomfortable and sleeping on your back may cause your uterus to compress major blood vessels. Learn to sleep comfortably on your sides. Try using extra pillows to help support your arms, legs and belly if you find this to be uncomfortable.
You may notice your gums are starting to bleed. Get a dental checkup if this makes you nervous or uncomfortable. You may be experiencing a general achiness in your stomach and lower back. This is caused by the ligaments in your abdomen being stretched to accommodate the growth of your uterus and is completely normal. Slight memory loss may be a side effect to the changing hormones in your body. Doing small exercises will help ease stress and muscle pain. Stretching and kegels are important to do during this time.
Your cardiovascular system will start to react a little slower than usual. This may cause you to feel faint if you stand up quickly and may make you feel more fatigued than you would expect. Your sense of balance may be affected due to the growth of your belly and a shifting of your center of gravity due to the growth.
You may notice your shoes are getting too tight on your feet. Many women’s feet grow with each pregnancy. This growth is usually permanent. Your skin may feel extra dry, itchy and tight, especially where it is stretching. Use moisturizer regularly and remember to drink plenty of water. Your breasts have most likely each gained about 6 or 7 ounces in weight. The areolas may be getting larger and may remain larger than normal for up to a year after your pregnancy.
You are now about halfway through your pregnancy. Some women experience vision changes. If you wear contact lenses you may notice they feel uncomfortable. This is because of the increased fluid in your eyes which will go away after you have your baby. Your uterus is growing still and will be taking up much more room now. This will cause a crowding of your other organs and may cause slight troubles in breathing for the rest of your pregnancy. You can talk to your baby if you wish, or even sing songs. Studies show that newborns will remember familiar voices and songs heard from within the uterus after they are born. You may notice an increased amount of vaginal discharge. This is normal so long as it is not accompanied by a foul odor or odd color which may be a sign of an infection. Varicose veins may begin to appear in your legs at this time. Avoid them by wearing flat shoes and support hose. Avoid standing for long periods and put your feet up as often as you can.
You may be able to see your abdomen ripple and move as the baby inside of you is becoming more and more active. Your legs may be swelling. Avoid standing for long periods of time and put your feet up when you sit down.
Some women have trouble with hemorrhoids. This is due to the extra weight gain and the constipation that many pregnant women have. Your ribs may be getting sore. Try sitting up as straight as possible or lifting your arms over your head to ease the pain.
Your cervix should now be tightly closed and sealed with a mucus plug. This keeps germs out. Some women have a condition known as an “incompetent cervix” and it is a concern because it can lead to premature birth. Your care provider may suggest doing a vaginal examination of the cervix to make sure this isn’t an issue for you. You should be able to really feel the baby moving around regularly now.
While swollen ankles are perfectly normal, swelling of your face or fingers may be a sign of preeclampsia (toxemia). Other symptoms to watch for include a sudden large weight gain, an extreme rise in your blood pressure or blurry vision.
Increased blood volume and circulation under the skin should leave you looking slightly rosy. Your uterus is now approximately the size of a soccer ball.
If your back is feeling the strain of your growing belly and extra weight try doing some pelvic rocks. Stand with your back against the wall with your knees slightly bent. As you inhale, press the small of your back against the wall. Relax your back as you exhale. You may feel your belly tighten and relax at random moments. These are called Braxton-Hicks contractions and will help the uterus prepare for the birth. Some women may have vivid dreams during their pregnancy. These can be fun to discuss with other pregnant women.
You may begin to put on weight more quickly now. Just keep eating a healthy diet and commit to losing the weight after you give birth.
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