Congratulations! By the fourth month, you have completed the first trimester and left the critical stage of pregnancy behind. Many physical and other changes occur during the second trimester. Keep reading to find out more about what to expect during the second trimester of a healthy pregnancy.
Pregnancy symptoms decrease
For many expectant mothers, the second trimester is a pleasant time because symptoms such as nausea, discomfort, dizziness and fatigue begin to decrease. Many women can really enjoy their pregnancy in the second trimester and feel happy and well-balanced. The risk of suffering a miscarriage is also much lower. The pregnancy is now clearly visible as the stomach begins to bulge and the body becomes fully adjusted to the baby. The placenta produces pregnancy-maintaining hormones and nourishes the fetus. The mother has a higher pulse and her respiratory volume increases in order to adequately supply the baby with oxygen. Her breasts become larger and she begins to produce colostrum.
During the second trimester, you can also feel the baby move for the first time. Most women feel the baby around the 19th or 20th week of pregnancy. Some expectant mothers feel the first gentle movements even earlier, others a little later. These movements may feel like having butterflies in your stomach—or even like indigestion. Some pregnant women feel a flutter or little kicks. From week to week, you will feel the fetal movements more strongly as the baby becomes more active. Sometimes, your baby’s acrobatics may be a little painful. Starting around the 24th week of pregnancy, others will be able to feel the baby’s movements from the outside.
The second prenatal checkup takes places between the 17th and 20th week of pregnancy. In addition, an ultrasound is performed between 18 and 22 weeks in order to determine the size of the baby, heart activity, amniotic fluid volume and position of the placenta. An organ screening can also take place during this time.
The sex can be determined
Starting at about 20 weeks of pregnancy, you can find out whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl during an ultrasound examination, provided the baby is positioned in a way that allows for a clear view of the genitals. The further along the pregnancy, the easier it is to identify the sex.
During the second trimester of pregnancy, many women may start to notice a dark line on their stomach that extends downward from the navel. This is called the linea nigra (dark or black line). This form of hyperpigmentation is caused by pregnancy hormones. Melanin stains the skin in order to protect it from harmful UV rays. During pregnancy, melanin production increases in order to protect the baby. The linea nigra can’t be prevented but disappears again after pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your blood circulation changes, which leads to accumulation of fluid in your body. Water retention in the hands and feet is typical. Your extremities can especially become swollen from prolonged standing and sitting. Showers or baths with alternating warm and cold water can help reduce swelling. Elevating your legs and taking extended rest periods is also recommended.
During the second trimester, you may also experience leg cramps due to varicose veins, overexertion or a lack of essential minerals. Your doctor can prescribe you a prenatal magnesium supplement, and a healthy diet including whole grains and dairy products can also provide important minerals.
During the second trimester, many pregnant women struggle with memory lapses and a reduced ability to concentrate. In this case, relaxation exercises and yoga can help. You should make sure to mark important events in your calendar as a precautionary measure. But don’t worry: After the birth, forgetfulness is often no longer an issue once you can resume regular and restful sleep.
Additional symptoms you may experience during the second trimester include stretch marks, increased vaginal discharge, back pain and bleeding gums. Many women also begin to snore during this time, which may be an indication of increased blood pressure. If necessary, your doctor can advise you about suitable treatment options.