What to Expect: Your Second Trimester

For many women, the second trimester is the most comfortable of the three. The nausea and exhaustion of the first trimester subside, so you feel healthier and more energetic. Pregnancy hormones can be great for your hair and skin, and now that “glow” gets to shine through. Your baby still only weighs about two pounds by week 28, so you aren’t carrying as much extra weight as you will in your third trimester. Aches and general discomfort are less prevalent in your second trimester than they will be in the third. 
 
 
Visible Changes
 
You won’t be comfortable all the time, of course. As your baby grows, your center of gravity changes. This shift can leave you feeling literally off balance, and makes you more prone to backaches. Stretch marks will likely appear at some point during this trimester, which makes some women feel self-conscious. 
 
Some women also experience an emotional panic during this time, as their growing baby bump makes their pregnancy more evident. Your pregnancy is no longer a joyful secret shared with a select few. By the end of the second trimester, it will be pretty clear to anyone who sees you that you are carrying a baby. This attention may make you feel exposed, proud, exasperated, thankful, or a whole host of other emotions. 
 
 
Your baby bump won’t be the only daily reminder that you are growing a tiny person inside you. During the second trimester, you’ll start to feel your baby move. He or she may kick and squirm or even tug on the umbilical cord. By this point, your baby’s organs are developed enough that you can hear the heartbeat with a stethoscope. 
 
Keeping Tabs on Your Health
 
You’ll have a midway checkup with your OB-GYN at around 20 weeks, or approximately halfway through your pregnancy. At this appointment, your physician will conduct a second ultrasound. They can usually detect your baby’s gender at this ultrasound. You can choose to know whether you’re expecting a boy or girl, or be surprised. If you elect to conduct genetic screening, this appointment will include a blood draw to check the levels of specific hormones and proteins in your blood. Abnormal levels of these proteins could signal a risk of certain disorders in your baby, but the tests are not foolproof and not required. 
 
Toward the end of the second trimester, your physician will likely conduct another round of blood tests to check your health. These tests are similar to those you would undergo in a standard physical, to make sure your body is functioning properly during pregnancy. Your doctor will also perform a glucose screening to test for gestational diabetes, a short-term form of diabetes that may develop during pregnancy.
 
In general, you will likely feel physically comfortable throughout the second trimester. Your health and energy levels will be similar to your pre-pregnancy self. Many women find this trimester is a good time to take a baby-moon, decorate the nursery, and start planning for delivery. Enjoy these three months!