Second Trimester: Welcome to the Golden Period

You’ve made it past the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Most people are entering what is often referred to as the golden period — and rightfully so. The second trimester, week 13 through 27, will likely be more enjoyable and bring with it a boost in energy. Some of the pesky first-trimester symptoms, like sore breasts and nausea, may greatly diminish or go away during this time as well. (That is definitely golden!)

This is an exciting time when you may feel more comfortable telling friends and family about your pregnancy. You might also begin to see a baby bump. While every pregnancy is different, here are some things you can likely expect during the next three months or so.

Your body

A woman’s body goes through some pretty major changes to get ready for baby. During the second trimester, you might experience physical changes and symptoms including:

  • Growing belly and breasts.
  • Increased appetite as food begins to smell and taste better again.
  • You will begin to feel the baby move.
  • Mild Braxton Hicks contractions and slight tightness in your abdomen.
    (Contact your OB/GYN if the contractions become regular and steadily increase in strength. This could be a sign of preterm labor.)
  • Skin changes, such as brown patches on your face and stretch marks.
  • Changes in blood pressure that can leave you dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles.

Your emotions

Living up to its name as the golden period, you might experience a renewed sense of wellbeing and happiness during this time. For this reason, many women say they find the second trimester to be their favorite part of pregnancy. Take advantage of the better spirits and relief from some of the unwanted symptoms of early pregnancy to find a pediatrician, look into childbirth classes, learn about breastfeeding and generally get things done for baby’s arrival.

While having a baby is a happy time for the most part, it’s not unusual to experience feelings of sadness, insecurity and even fear. If the sadness develops into ongoing depression, it’s important and OK to seek professional help.

Depression warning signs include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Inability to sleep or stay asleep
  • Change in eating habits
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in things that had been enjoyable

If you have these symptoms, talk with your doctor or midwife. There are treatment options for pregnant women going through depression, and it’s best to talk it out. Get the help you need so you and your developing baby will enjoy a healthy pregnancy and delivery. 

At the doctor

You want to stay as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy, and seeing your OB/GYN regularly can help. During the second trimester, you should visit with your doctor about every two to four weeks for checkups and to have important tests done. The following are some recommended prenatal tests to help keep you and your developing baby on the right track, and promote early detection of any possible problems.

  • Weight and blood pressure checks
  • Blood test(s) to look for potential birth defects in your baby
  • Amniocentesis
    (Recommended if you have certain risk factors, such as being over age 35; a family history of, or a previous pregnancy involving, a genetic condition; or abnormalities picked up in an ultrasound or earlier screening tests.)
  • Ultrasound performed at least once during your pregnancy
    Ultrasounds help estimate a due date, show your baby’s developmental progress, reveal the baby’s gender (if you want to know) and more.
  • Glucose screening test to check for signs of gestational diabetes

Your baby

Just as you experience certain changes during the second trimester of pregnancy, so too does your baby. It’s a busy time in the womb. Your baby’s organs become fully developed during the second trimester. They can also start to hear, swallow, and even yawn and hiccup. Later on in the second trimester, the baby will begin to get active.

Here is the timeline for some of your baby’s changes according to the American Pregnancy Association:

  • Between weeks 14 and 16, fine hair called lanugo beings to sprout on baby’s head, and baby begins making sucking motions with the mouth. You may also begin to feel flutters!
  • Between weeks 17 and 20, baby’s eyebrows and eyelashes grow in, and nails begin to grow on the fingers and toes. A white waxy coating, called vernix, also now covers the baby to protect the forming skin.
  • By week 23, baby is beginning to have the look of a newborn infant. The eyes are fully developed,
  • By the end of your second trimester, you will have a 2-pound human in your belly that will be around 14 inches in length. At this time, baby sleeps and wakes regularly and the nervous system is developed enough to control some functions

Understanding your pregnancy week by week can help you make informed decisions as you prepare for the big life changes ahead. Learn more about navigating your pregnancy.

Woman holding baby
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