The second trimester, beginning at Week 14 from the start of your last menstruation until the end of Week 26, is a period of rapid growth and development for your baby and for many changes in you as well!
Many of these potential changes that you may experience during the second trimester have already been detailed in the first trimester, including:
- breast changes
- nausea and vomiting although this should decrease for most women, it could be continuing or just starting for others
- increased frequency of urination
- varicose veins
- increased heart rate
- heartburn and indigestion and gastrointestinal symptoms
- missed menstrual periods
- changes in taste and smell
- weight gain
- mood changes
Some additional new feelings you may encounter this trimester include:
- Mild swelling of the ankles and feet, and occasionally the hands and face (edema). This is perfectly normal during pregnancy and is caused by water retention. Try keeping your feet elevated for periods when you are sitting. Your health care provider will monitor your swelling at each visit, as too much swelling combined with elevated urine proteins and high blood pressure can be a sign of a health problem.
- Slight increase in vaginal discharge. This is a common occurrence and may be a protective measure that your body uses to prevent vaginal infections. The discharge should be thin and white, and you should contact your health care provider if you notice anything different (smell, colour change, irritation, etc).
- Sensitive gums with or without bleeding during brushing. Increased blood flow during pregnancy can cause your gums to become tender and even bleed when brushing your teeth. It is best if you use a soft toothbrush and don't brush too aggressively.
- Occasional headaches. Again, this is perfectly normal and can be caused by a variety of physiological and emotional changes related to pregnancy, such as increased blood volume and stress. Try to stay stress-free (or at least find ways to cope with stress), eat small meals frequently, and stay hydrated. Do not take over-the-counter medication without first consulting your health care provider. If you are suffering from intense regular headaches, contact your health care provider.
- Nasal congestion or stuffiness. This is also caused by increased blood flow that leads to swelling of your nasal membranes, which can lead to congestion and even the occasional nosebleed. Don't worry, this is normal, but inform your health care provider at your next scheduled visit and do not take over-the-counter medication without first consulting them.
- Shortness of breath. This common feeling is due to your physiological need to carry more oxygen to support your baby.
- Backaches. As your belly continues to grow and your pregnancy hormones relax your muscles, your back may begin to ache later on in the second trimester and throughout the third. If this is occurs, try chairs with a good back support, wear comfortable shoes, use ice and heat on the painful areas, and ask someone to give you a back massage.
- Skin changes. Your skin may become darker in areas due to increased blood circulation, and you may notice a line forming up the middle of your belly.
- Changes in sexual desire. Increased sexual desire is a common feeling that women feel and may be due to increased blood circulation and your hormones. It is also perfectly normal to feel the opposite or no difference at all. Communicate with your partner about your feelings and remember that for most women, it is perfectly safe to be sexually active during pregnancy. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.
- Absentmindedness. Also known as "pregnancy fog," this is a common occurrence in pregnancy and is likely to worsen the further along you are. Although the cause is unknown, many blame hormone levels, stress, or iron deficiency. Remember, the feeling of being "spacey" or forgetful is only a temporary pregnancy-related issue and will resolve soon after giving birth. To help combat absentmindedness, try and get organized before it worsens or starts, don't be afraid to ask for help, get plenty of rest, eat right, and don't overdo it at home or at the office.
- Growing belly and stretch marks. The growing belly goes without saying as this trimester marks rapid growth of your baby. It is typical for weight gain to be approximately 12 to 14 pounds for this trimester. Your navel should start protruding this trimester as well! Stretch marks occur in some women as your skin stretches to accommodate your growing belly. Try moisturizers and don't worry, these marks usually fade over time after giving birth.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. These weak and seemingly random contractions are an indication that your body is getting in some pre-labour practice. They are mostly felt in the groin region or even in the lower abdomen. They are normal and not a cause for concern unless they become more intense and regular, at which point you should contact your health care provider.
- Baby movement. Near the end of the fourth month, you may be able to feel the baby moving by a fluttering feeling in your stomach! As the baby grows during the rest of the second and third trimester, you should be able to feel these movements more intensely.
Remember, each pregnancy is different and what you may experience may be completely different than what others experience.