All You Need to Know About the Second Trimester of Pregnancy
For many women, the second trimester of pregnancy is a wonderful time. Morning sickness disappears. Your skin and hair glow. The “nesting instinct” sets in. And you get a wonderful burst of energy, vitality, and stamina. So, what’s going on in your body? And what should be on your “to do” list?
Your Baby’s Development:
Your baby is very busy growing and developing during this stage of pregnancy. 2nd-trimester fetal developments include:
- The nervous system begins to function.
- Your baby’s hair starts to grow.
- Baby’s toes, fingers, and eyelids are fully formed (even fingernails and eyelashes!).
- You will begin to feel your baby moving and kicking.
- At the end of the second trimester, you may notice that Baby responds to your voice, touch or music by kicking and moving.
That’s just a few of the highlights! Your baby is changing and developing week by week during 4 to 6 of pregnancy. Check out our week by week pregnancy calendar for more detailed descriptions of the stages and the order they develop.
Reveal the Gender? Or Wait for the Surprise?
Between 16 and 20 weeks pregnant, you’ll be able to have an ultrasound and find out the sex of your baby. But do you want to? This is a question that many couples agonize (and sometimes argue!) over. Let’s work through the pros and cons of knowing whether to expect a boy or a girl:
- You’ll know what you’re having and can prepare your nursery, clothes, toys etc. accordingly.
- You can tell friends and family (all your baby shower gifts can be gender-specific).
- You and your partner can start narrowing down your list of baby names. And, when you talk to your baby in the womb, you’ll be able to call him or her by name.
- There’s something about hearing “it’s a girl!” or “it’s a boy” right after having worked so hard to give birth. It’s a precious moment. It’s also one of the oldest surprises – some people think it’s a shame to spoil the mystery with new technology.
- You avoid getting into the pink for girls and blue for boys trap – neutral yellows, greens, and other pastel colors are wonderful for setting up nurseries. Many modern parents choose not to do the whole gender stereotype thing with their children anyway.
Some couples simply can’t agree and you end up with a situation where one couple knows and the other doesn’t! What will you do?
What’s Happening to Your Body?
Your body is also changing day to day during pregnancy 2nd trimester. Some of the more uncomfortable symptoms of early pregnancy will wear off – like morning sickness and fatigue. But, there are a few new symptoms to contend with.
Common Symptoms in the Second Trimester:
- Bleeding gums
- Needing to Pee ALL THE TIME
Don’t Worry, it’s Not all Bad! You’ll also have:
- Bigger breasts
- Faster growing hair and nails
- That “Pregnancy Glow” to your skin
- Energy and focus
2nd Trimester “To Do” List:
Here’s the fun part! In the second trimester, a primal urge called the “nesting instinct” kicks in. You are literally preparing the nest for your little one and nature seems to give you super powers to do it. Believe me, after Baby arrives you’re unlikely to have this much energy or focus for a long time – why not make use of it?
Take Advantage of the Energy and:
- Set up the nursery – pick out furniture, pictures, wall decals, and toys and get it all arranged. Pick out a paint color and put your husband or partner to work (see below on risks)!
- Stock up on baby clothes, nappies, and all the other paraphernalia that goes with parenting. Set up an organized and accessible system for storing them.
- De-clutter your home. Having children brings all sorts of new stuff into the house and you don’t want to feel like you’re living in a perpetual yard sale. What things don;t you need/want anymore?
- Spring clean like you never spring cleaned before!
- Cook big batches of casserole, lasagne etc, and doing some baking to put away in the freezer. You’ll thank yourself once Baby arrives and the last thing you feel like doing is cooking a meal.
There are a couple of things you need to be wary of when the nesting instinct hits and you feel like super-woman. By all means, iron everything in the house, reorganize the cupboards, and spring clean every second day. But be careful about:
- Paint fumes: No matter how desperately you need to change the color of the walls, being shut up in a confined space with toxic fumes while pregnant is a bad idea.
- Gardening (if you have a cat): cat feces can transmit an infection called toxoplasmosis. If it passes from you to your baby it can cause serious birth defects and even blindness. If there is any chance that there is cat poo in your flower or vegetable beds, you should avoid gardening altogether.
- Over-doing it and injuring yourself: Look after your body! Standing on one leg on top of a chair to dust lampshades is a bad idea. So is scrubbing tile floors until your back aches. Remember that resting is also an important part of preparing for a baby.
- Mood swings or sudden bouts of depression: even if you’re not naturally a perfectionist, you’re likely to become one while nesting. Combine that with the ups and downs of pregnancy hormones and you’ve got a recipe for a meltdown when your best-laid plans don’t work out. Or your husband leaves a candy bar wrapper on the coffee table…
- Food cravings: you might find you expend lots of energy in sudden bursts and then crave something sweet to top you up. Don’t reach for ice cream, or candy, or coffee. Get that sweet burst from nutritious fruits like strawberries or blueberries.
We hope our overview of the second trimester was useful. If you’d like to read more in-depth descriptions of the symptoms and developments of each week of the second trimester, click on one of the weeks below:
More Articles and Advice for Your Pregnancy:
Your belly is going to “pop out” at some stage during your 2nd trimester. So you’ll need to start thinking about maternity clothes! Read our helpful guide to mixing and matching for polished and professional maternity outfits.
A feeling of restless anxiousness can sometimes set in in the second trimester of pregnancy. Yoga and meditation can help you relax, take time for yourself, and learn helpful breathing techniques. Read more about pregnancy yoga and meditation here.