What should I expect during physician appointments?
For some women, this begins what is sometimes referred to as the "golden period," when the risk of miscarriage has decreased — though not disappeared entirely — and you can feel comfortable sharing your extraordinary news. With that, the fatigue, nausea, and other first-trimester side effects may disappear, your sleeping should improve, and you might even enjoy a surge of energy. In general, you might feel more like the regular, pre-pregnancy you.
By the beginning of the second trimester, almost all of the baby's organs and structures have formed and will continue to grow until delivery. The genitalia begin to show some differentiation in gender. The intestines are developing in the abdomen, and some movement of the muscles has started to develop and work to process food. The kidneys have begun to produce and excrete urine, and amniotic fluid starts to accumulate — to surround and cushion your baby.*
Body changes Around this time, you will also notice a few baby-related changes. Being pregnant will probably feel more real to you. Sometime around week 10 to 12, your doctor may have listened to the baby's heartbeat using Doppler ultrasound, and, in another few weeks, you will probably start feeling little flurries inside. Those butterfly-like sensations are the baby, making its presence felt for the first time!
Keep in mind that not all women at this point are without symptoms and sensations. There is, in fact, a whole new set of aches and pains, along with potential problems and complications that may set in. You might suffer from:
back, abdomen, or leg cramps
darkened skin, more moles, or skin tags
bouts of constipation*
Find other common body changes and discomforts here.
Tips for the second trimester
Pay attention to your pregnancy posture. As the baby develops, your ligaments loosen and your center of gravity shifts. You are carrying the weight of your baby and uterus, as well as any energy stores of fat added to your hips and torso. The way you walk, sit, and stand are likely to change and may strain your back. Protect your back and neck by paying attention to your posture: Keep your chin level. When your head is held up and your neck straight, your spine relaxes and falls into a straight line. Relax your shoulders. Tilt your pelvis forward to counteract the arch of your lower back. Bend your knees slightly, and avoid locking them when you stand. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and wear flat shoes or those with medium-height heels.
If you still have nausea, ease it by "grazing," or eating frequent small meals, especially foods high in vitamin B6 (such as breakfast cereals), and by nibbling crystallized ginger or sipping ginger tea. A high-protein diet will keep your blood sugar levels at an even level to lessen your nausea. Gentle exercise-walking, yoga, swimming, or a prenatal exercise program-will help you sleep well at night, so you'll get the rest you and your baby need.
Use extra pillows placed at your back, against your stomach, and between your knees to help you sleep more comfortably. Your doctor or midwife may encourage you to sleep on your left side, rather than on your right, as well. While there's no harm to sleeping on your right side, lying on your left may help your kidneys empty more efficiently. When your kidneys are working well, you are less likely to have swelling in your ankles, feet, and hands. Sleep on the side that is most comfortable for you, however, unless told otherwise by your caregiver. As your uterus and your baby grow, sleeping on your back will become less comfortable. Putting the full weight of your uterus on your spine, back muscles, intestines, and veins can give you a backache or hemorrhoids, as well as impaired breathing and circulation. If you're a back sleeper, try to sleep on your side until after the baby is born. As the weight of the baby and your uterus increases, you may find that side sleeping is far more comfortable than sleeping on your back in any case or use a wedge under your right hip.
If you're pregnant during flu season, get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the flu shot for women who will be pregnant during flu season. Call your doctor to make an appointment sometime between September and December, before flu season gets underway.**
Start thinking about names. Try mulling over a new one every week (or every day if you're really rolling). If you don't know your baby's sex and don't intend to find out, have a few of each ready.
Wear loose-fitting separates for the ultrasound exams. That way, you can easily pull the top half up and the bottom half down. Keep in mind that even though you'll mop up the goop on your belly with a towel when it's all over, some of it will surely wind up on your clothes, so don't wear your favorite items!
Get used to your center of balance changing. You may be starting to feel a little dizzy at times, or feel that your equilibrium is off. Also, dizziness is a common discomfort associated with pregnancy. The dizziness is a result of low blood pressure that may occur during pregnancy from all the changes that are going on inside your body. Sometimes the growth of the uterus puts pressure on your big vessels such as the aorta and the inferior vena cava, and this usually happens when you lie down. It can also happen from standing up too fast and the blood leaves your brain quickly. It is best to get out of bed by sitting up and dangling your legs off the side first, then standing up.
Enroll in childbirth education classes. There are three common childbirth education techniques that are taught. These include: Lamaze, Bradley, and Read. The techniques are all slightly different, but the basic theories revolve around how to manage pain by using special breathing techniques, along with exercise and diet during pregnancy. While some of them are more focused on dealing with the pain of labor without any supplemental medication, others support medication as well. It is important, before you take a class, to decide if you are considering medications or an epidural so that you take the appropriate class for you and your focus on childbirth. Most classes will help you develop your childbirth plan.* To find classes at a Texas Health hospital, click here.
Yes, vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself from the flu. This year, you will need to get two flu vaccinations — a seasonal flu vaccine and an H1N1 vaccine. This will protect you from the different types of the flu that are around this year.