The second trimester of pregnancy, from 13 weeks until 29 weeks, is often referred to as the “honeymoon phase.” This stage is mostly associated with the growth of the fetus and uterus. Your baby bump starts to appear in the second trimester.
At the beginning of the second trimester, the fetus is generally about 6 inches in length and weighs about 4 ounces. By the end of this phase, it becomes more than twice in size (about 14 inches in length) and its weight increases nearly tenfold to about 2¼ pounds.
The “Honeymoon Phase” of Pregnancy
Women often feel their best in the second trimester, as nausea and vomiting that plague moms-to-be in the first twelve weeks considerably improves or disappears altogether. This leaves them feeling more energetic and comfortable.
Miscarriage rates significantly drop from about 10 percent to 2–3 percent in the second trimester.
The aches and pains associated with a growing baby are not typically as prominent in this phase as they are in the third trimester when your baby is larger and heavier. A number of women also report thicker, fuller hair and a “pregnancy glow.”
Although this trimester is reported to be the most tolerable one, it brings along some physical and hormonal changes that may cause a significant amount of discomfort.
Prepare Yourself for the 2nd Trimester During Pregnancy
Here are a few things that you need to know about the second trimester of pregnancy.
1. Inception of Constipation
Constipation is a common occurrence during pregnancy. This problem becomes more prevalent during the second trimester.
If you are having less than three bowel movements per week, you might be suffering from constipation.
Studies report that women tend to be more constipated in the second trimester than in the first or third trimester of pregnancy or in the postpartum period.
The ongoing hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can affect digestion and slow down the bowel movements. Many women take iron supplements during and after pregnancy, which can also contribute to constipation.
- Staying well hydrated and increasing your bran or wheat fiber intake are the simplest and most effective ways to treat constipation during pregnancy.
- When dietary changes are not enough, a stimulating laxative is also to be effective in treating this condition.
- Some healthcare providers may also suggest a daily stool softener to help avoid constipation during pregnancy.
2. Discomfort of Heartburn
Heartburn during pregnancy often begins in the second trimester. This common problem affects about 45 percent of pregnant women.
In fact, it is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints among pregnant women.
The prevalence of heartburn in the second trimester nearly doubles that of the first trimester. During this phase, the incidence rate of heartburn is about 39 percent. However, this problem is more common in the third trimester.
Heartburn occurs as the body increases the production of the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the muscles in the lower esophagus. This allows the stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing the pain, burning, and discomfort associated with the condition.
Usually, symptoms can be experienced when the person is lying down, especially after eating a large meal.
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day may help relieve heartburn.
- Avoid greasy, spicy, and acidic foods. Avoid lying down immediately after eating.
- You can also try reducing caffeine intake and elevating your head when resting or going to sleep.
3. Gas Build-Up
Pregnant women may also suffer from the extremely uncomfortable problem of gas during the second trimester.
This happens because the increased level of progesterone during pregnancy, along with the pressure your growing baby places on your belly, slows down the digestion and the movement of air in your body. A slower digestive system can lead to gas buildup, causing pain in the abdomen, cramps, burping, and the passing of gas.
- Avoid or spread out the intake of food items that may add to the problem. A few examples of such foods are carbonated beverages, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower), beans, and other high-fiber foods.
- Also, try having smaller meals and eat slowly to avoid swallowing air.
- Do not eat too close to bedtime, in order to give your body enough time to digest the food.
4. Pain in Back (Backache)
The extra weight of your growing baby puts additional strain on your back. Although a number of women experience lower back pain throughout their pregnancy, this problem is most commonly associated with the second trimester.
The hormones released during pregnancy can affect the support your back normally experiences, contributing to an increase in back pain as the baby grows and the pregnancy progresses. You may also suffer from lower back pain because of posture changes as you adjust to carrying the extra weight in your body.
- Sufficient back support while sitting may offer some relief from back pain. A good posture and a footrest for additional support can be of great help. When resting, lay on your side with a pillow tucked between your legs.
- Avoid picking up or carrying anything heavy. Also, use your leg strength and not your back when lifting things.
- Wear comfortable footwear that offers good arch support. Avoid wearing high heels.
5. Swelling in Feet and Ankles
Mild swelling is normal during pregnancy. It is caused by a 50 percent increase in blood and fluid, in order to meet the needs of your growing baby.
The swelling enables the body to expand, allowing it to support the additional weight while also softening the joints, preparing the body for delivery.
A number of women report mild swelling of the feet and ankles, which start at about 22 weeks of pregnancy and last until after delivery.
- To reduce the swelling in your feet or ankles, stay active and avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time.
- Keep your feet elevated when you rest, and sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
6. Tender or Bleeding Gums
Owing to an increase in the estrogen and progesterone hormones during pregnancy, it is quite common for women to develop swollen and tender gums.
This happens due to an increase in the blood flow to this area, causing more sensitivity and gums that bleed easily.
It is important to take care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy in order to avoid complications, such as low birth weight or future dental problems in the child.
- Use a soft toothbrush, floss gently, and use mild toothpaste to reduce bleeding and taking care of sensitive gums.
- Visit your dentist early in your pregnancy for suggestions and recommendations.
Additional Tips Regarding Second Trimester
- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women should be screened for gestational diabetes around week 24 to week 28 of pregnancy.
- Do not take any medication without consulting your healthcare provider.
- Eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest.
- Do not miss your routine checkups, which allow your doctor to ensure everything is progressing as expected.
- During this stage, you can request for prenatal genetic screening in case you have concerns about any conditions that the baby may have.
- Sleep on your side, as the weight of the growing fetus puts pressure on the vena cava, which can interfere with circulation to the fetus.
- Continue doing the pelvic floor and deep breathing exercises.
- Talk to your doctor about the recommended daily calorie intake during this stage.
- It is important to track your weight gain. Avoiding excessive weight gain is important for you and your baby’s health.
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