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Changes in Your Second Trimester

Feb 16, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

Welcome to your second trimester. All the hard work involved in making your baby and helping it to form has been done. Their essential organs and body systems should be in place and are ready to keep growing and maturing. In your second trimester, your baby will increase its size 3 to 4 times and will look more and more like the little person it will become.

For most women, their second trimester comes as a welcome relief. The exhaustion and nausea which has been so consuming in the first seems has improved, and there is almost a return to abnormal state of wellbeing. However, there are still some big differences.

I’m starting to show

You may find it is getting harder to hide the reality of your pregnancy at this stage. When women start to show is highly individual and depends on their overall size and stature; if they've had children previously; how accurately they have estimated their dates; and even the tone of their abdominal muscles.

At the start of the second trimester, the uterus is just starting to rise above the central pubic bone. Until then, it has been protected within the pelvis but now it is too large to stay in the pelvis and will lift up and out.

Don’t worry if you still can’t feel anything when you're poking your belly. How big you are at this stage of your pregnancy is not an indication of your baby's growth or wellbeing.

Your physical changes in your second trimester

That stuffy nose which has been irritating you is likely to hang around for a few more weeks. Try to limit the amount of time you spend in low humidity environments and air conditioning. A bowl of water or humidifier in the room can help make breathing easier.

Your size and shape is going to change in the next few months. Every woman will carry pregnancy differently and lots of people will tell you it is possible to determine the sex of your baby from how much your belly sticks out. There is no scientific proof to support this theory, but there is no harm in having a little fun.

Get ready to feel Braxton Hicks contractions from around week 26. These are painless uterine contractions which are designed to prepare your uterus for labor and increase its blood flow. You may be conscious of them earlier if you have had a baby previously.

Your emotional changes in your second trimester

Take note of where you put things throughout the next few weeks. One of the more common symptoms heralding the start of the second trimester is pregnancy amnesia. Aim to not do too much at once and learn to laugh at yourself. A sense of humor helps.

In the early morning hours and quieter moments, you might find yourself worrying if the baby will be alright and how you will cope if they aren’t. There is a sense in the second trimester that there is no going back. There are no guarantees or iron-clad contracts when it comes to baby making, but be reassured, nature is very clever and gets it right most of the time.

Hints for your second trimester

Get used to the idea of attending regular prenatal appointments. These will be at your maternity care providers office or clinic. Routine checks and ultrasounds are a means of screening for potential problems. It is common for pregnant women to have their weight, belly size, blood pressure, and urine checked at each visit. This is usually every 4 weeks or so throughout the second trimester.

Think about your diet and if you are eating as well as you could be. You don’t need to eat for two—just really well for one. Make sure you are getting lots of carbohydrates, protein, iron, and calcium in your diet. Remember, everything you eat will eventually find its way through to your baby and will help them grow.

Expect yourself to start gaining weight through your second trimester. Most women find their weight remains stable in the first trimester or even drops in response to their appetite changes. It’s normal to have your biggest weight gain for the entire pregnancy in the second trimester. Remember that a healthy gain is between 25 to 30 pounds and a little less if you are overweight before pregnancy. Gaining over this amount can cause pregnancy and labor complications.

Weekly development in the second trimester

Let's look at your baby's changes in your second trimester.

14 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby is the size of your clenched fist. Its eyelids are fully formed but are still fused over their eyes. They’ll stay this way throughout the second trimester.

15 Weeks Pregnant: This week your baby can swallow. Soon they will become adept at swallowing amniotic fluid and recycling it through their kidneys. This may sound less than tasty, but it is a vital means of determining if they will have renal problems. It also helps their lungs to develop.

16 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby is almost 5 inches long this week. They are moving quite actively and have alternating periods of rest and activity. All that movement helps your baby's muscles to grow and consolidate the network of nervous system pathways linking their brain, spinal cord, and muscles.

17 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby's trunk is beginning to straighten out and their legs are getting longer. This week your baby has eyebrows and eye lashes to match their hairy little body. Don’t worry though—unless your baby comes early, all that fuzz, which is known officially as lanugo, will be lost.

18 Weeks Pregnant: If this is your first pregnancy, you will probably be aware of your baby's movements by now. If you have been pregnant before, it is possible to feel movements or quickening from around 14 weeks.

19 Weeks Pregnant: This week your little one is the size of a mango—not so little after all. A white, oily coating known as vernix caseosa is forming on the skin to protect it.

20 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby is around 8 inches long. It is possible to see what sex your baby is on an ultrasound if you haven’t before now. Your uterus is at the halfway mark and will now reach up to your navel.

21 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby is the length of a banana this week. Their arms and legs look as if they are in proportion with each other and those kicks you are feeling are less random. They seem to be stronger and more intentional than they have been.

22 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby is hearing a lot of muffled noises, so get into the habit of talking, playing music, and having your partner chat, too. This will pay off when your baby is born and responds to your partner’s voice.

23 Weeks Pregnant: In the next month, your baby will double their weight. They will fill out to fit their skin and lay down important fat.

24 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby is almost 9 inches long. Amniotic fluid is being sucked in and out of their lungs in a breathing motion. Lots of energy is going into baby’s growth, with fat deposits being laid down. There's also hair forming in all the right places, such as eyebrows, eyelashes, and on their head.

25 Weeks Pregnant: Air sacs are forming in your baby's lungs in preparation for their first breaths. There's lots of lung development happening this week. Although you are still doing all the breathing for your baby now, they’ll need to be ready to breathe on their own from the moment of birth.

26 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby's eyes are able to see around them, and you may find they are more active when you are out in bright sunlight. They can respond to touch through the abdominal wall and will move in response to gentle pressure on your belly. Your baby is roughly the same size as the placenta this week.

27 Weeks Pregnant: There will be lots of movement and activity this week with regular bursts of kicking and stretching. Your baby is still practicing breathing. If they were born this week, they would most certainly need help to breathe. Watch and feel for your belly jumping rhythmically—it could be your baby hiccupping.

For more information, see Pregnancy Week by Week.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.