HealthONE March 02, 2016

Congratulations! You’ve gotten through your first 12 weeks of pregnancy. With morning sickness behind you, the second trimester is the easiest of the three and the right time to start planning for your baby’s birth. While you may be feeling better during your second trimester, your body and baby are still undergoing significant changes.

Remember, if you notice any changes in your health or have any questions about your pregnancy, schedule an appointment with your obstetrician.

Body changes in the second trimester

  • You will notice increases in your weight as your baby rapidly grows. Stretch marks will start developing on your skin as your ‘baby bump’ begins to show. You should gain 15 to 20 pounds during your second trimester, due to your baby’s growth and the increased levels of blood in your body.
  • Morning sickness should dissipate or disappear entirely during your second trimester. You are now in the ‘honeymoon period’ of your pregnancy! You should feel a boost to your energy and sex drive. Enjoy the reprieve and take time to treat yourself to some of the activities you used to enjoy before your first trimester.
  • You will probably grow a full bra size during your second trimester, as your body prepares to provide your baby with essential nutrients. The good news? Most of the breast pain you felt in your first trimester will dissipate.
  • You may notice hair growth in abnormal places, including arms and face. You will also see added hair volume on your head – which many pregnant women find to be a nice perk of the second trimester!
  • One of the more difficult changes your body will undergo is ongoing backache from supporting extra weight. Avoid carrying heavy objects or wearing heels for the remainder of your pregnancy if your backache increases.

Baby growth and development

Your baby typically grows six inches and weighs close to two pounds during the second trimester. This pivotal stage of development includes:

  • During your second trimester, your baby’s hearing will continue to develop. By week 16, your baby will be able to detect some sounds like sneezing or your stomach grumbling. Over the next few weeks, your baby will be able to hear some noises from the outside world.
  • Your baby’s sex will also become noticeable during your ultrasound appointments. If you want it to be a surprise, make sure you let your doctor and technician know before your appointment.
  • By the end of week 16, you should be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat during your ultrasound appointment.
  • Shortly after your baby’s hearing is developed, it will develop sensitivity to light. Tests show shining a flashlight on your stomach could cause your baby to shield its eyes from the light.
  • Your baby’s muscles should start developing around this time, allowing them to shift around inside your uterus. These slight movements are called quickening, and you should be able to feel them somewhere between your 18-20 week milestones. These movements may feel like butterflies in your stomach.
  • Defined hands, toes, fingers and hair will be visible during your second trimester ultrasound appointments. These developments include finger and toe nails, as well as unique finger and toe prints.
  • In the last stages of the second trimester, your baby’s lungs will start maturing, preparing the baby for breathing on its own. The lungs will continue to develop during the third trimester, when the baby will be able to try breathing in the womb.

Planning for your baby

Because the second trimester is the ‘calm’ part of pregnancy, it is the ideal time to get the most out of your baby-free life by making final preparations for your bundle of joy and taking time out for yourself.

  • Your second trimester is a good time to start prenatal exercise classes. These classes will help you stay in shape and help you form lasting friendships with other expecting mothers.
  • Speaking of classes, you will want to start planning your childbirth classes. You can find childbirth classes at the hospital you have selected to deliver your baby.
  • Many caregivers will recommend you start sleeping on your side when you reach the halfway point of your pregnancy. Sleeping on your left side can improve blood flow to your placenta and may help you sleep at night. Placing a pillow between your legs and behind your back can help you sleep more comfortably during pregnancy.
  • Your second trimester is also a great time for you to start preparing your home for your baby’s arrival. Get in the habit of putting away any toxic substances that could harm your baby. Preparing a nursery for your baby is a fun activity you and your partner can tackle together. If you have pets, start preparing them for the significant changes they will experience when they have to share the house with a little person. Consult with a veterinarian for what course of action is best for your pet.