The second trimester (13-28 Weeks) is the most physically enjoyable for most women. While some symptoms, such as a morning sickness and nausea can abate, new ones can begin. If you’re one of the women whose morning sickness is still in full swing, using nausea tapes can help ease your symptoms and make it easier to deal with the new ones that occur during the second trimester. What follows is a list of changes that you may see in your body during this trimester.
Quickening and Fetal Movement
The mother may be able to feel the movement of the fetus for the first time. This is a phenomenon called quickening, and is typically felt by the end of the 5th month. On average, quickening is felt first between the 18th and 22nd weeks. Variations are normal, and women who have had a baby before are likely to experience movement earlier. This is probably because she knows what to expect and because her uterine muscles are more lax, making it easier to feel a kick. This fluttering will give way to actual movement and kicking, which is normally felt by the end of the 7th month.
Skin Changes, Stretch Marks and Increasing Belly Size
The uterus has grown to the height of the belly button, making the pregnancy visible. You may notice that skin pigmentation may change on the face or abdomen due to the pregnancy hormones. Due to the stretching of the skin some woman may develop stretch marks. Stretch marks occur in approximately half of all pregnancies and appear in the second half of pregnancy as the belly expands. Expectant mother’s who have good, elastic skin tone may not even get any stretch marks. If you do, don’t worry too much about these since most stretch marks fade away after delivery and are barely noticeable.
Here are some tips to help minimize or prevent stretch marks:
- keep your weight gain steady and under control
- promote elasticity in your skin by nourishing it with a good diet
- drink plenty of fluids
- use a stretch mark cream or a prevention cream
The increased secretion of oils brought about by hormonal changes can result in acne breakouts. By following a proper diet, drinking plenty of water and making sure you wash your face regularly while using an oil-free moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated, will help to keep your complexion problems at a minimum.
Abdominal and Low Back Pain
As your uterus and abdomen expands, you might feel pains in your abdomen, groin area or thighs. You may feel backaches due to your increasing weight. You’ll also experiencing aching near your pelvic bone from the pressure of the baby’s head, your increased weight, and the loosening joints in these areas. The lower abdomen may ache as ligaments stretch to support the uterus. Lying down, resting or applying heat can help resolve some of these aches and pains. If pains do not get better after rest, it is best to call your chiropractor or other health care provider.
The need to frequently urinate may decrease as the uterus grows out of the pelvic cavity, relieving pressure on the bladder.
Nosebleeds and Gum Bleeds
Increase in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can affect the mucous membranes in the nose and gums. The hormones cause an increased blood flow to the mucous membranes of the nose and gums, causing them to soften and swell. This can lead to nasal congestion, nosebleeds, spongier gums and gums that bleed more easily.
In addition to stuffiness, you may also develop sinus congestion and a postnasal drip, which can occasionally lead to nighttime coughing or gagging. Remember not to use medication or medicated nasal sprays unless your practitioner prescribes them.
You may find that your congestion and bleeding are more common in winter, when heating systems force hot, dry air into the house, drying your nasal passages. A humidifier may help overcome this dryness.
To stem a nosebleed, sit or stand leaning forward, pinch the area just above your nostrils and below the bridge of your nose using your thumb and forefinger. Hold this for five minutes and repeat if the bleeding continues. If the bleeding isn’t controlled after three tries or if the bleeding is frequent and heavy, call your doctor.
You may notice a white-colored vaginal discharge called leukorrhea. It is normal. However a colored or bloody discharge may signal possible complications and should be examined immediately.
Tingling and Itching
Due to the swelling of tissues in the narrow passages of your wrists, tingling and numbness in the fingers is a common occurrence during pregnancy. The swollen tissues put pressure on nerves which can cause numbness and tingling. If the numbness is accompanied by pain and is located in the area of the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of your ring finger, you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Since fluids tend to accumulate in your hands and feet throughout the day due to gravity, you may find that your symptoms are more severe at night. Avoid sleeping on your hands and try elevating then on a separate pillow when you go to sleep. You can also try hanging the affected hand over the side of the bed and shaking it when numbness occurs. If the numbness persists, check with your practitioner.
Also, due to the stretching of your skin, it is common to experience some itching over the stretched tissue, particularly over the abdomen. Not to worry though, these symptoms should disappear after you deliver your baby.
Difficulty sleeping is a common complaint of women in their second trimester of pregnancy. Here are some tips to help you get a better night’s rest:
- exercise : if you get enough exercise during the day, you’ll feel more tired at night and get to sleep quicker; however, you shouldn’t exercise too close to bedtime, since the exercise-induced high may keep you up
- napping : try not to nap too much in the daytime
- bedtime routine : develop a bedtime routine and stick to it; some people like to indulge in light reading or television, soothing music, stretching, yoga, a warm bath, a backrub or some lovemaking
- bedroom : make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, that your mattress is firm and that your pillows are supportive or you use a body pillow
- bed : use your bed only for sleeping and making love; if you do a lot of reading, watch TV or work on the bed frequently, this may interfere with sleep
- nighttime urination : if you are constantly getting up from bed to urinate, try to limit your intake of fluids after 6pm
- common sense : stay away from sleeping pills and alcohol
- caffeine : caffeine isn’t good for your baby or for your ability to get to sleep, so stay away from coffee during your pregnancy
- timing is everything : don’t go to bed until you’re tired; if you’re tossing and turning in bed for a long time, get out of bed and do something
- patterns : it’s important that you follow a regular sleeping pattern; you can do this by ensuring that you get up at the same time each day, even on weekends and holidays
Continuation of Other Symptoms
Heart burn, indigestion and constipation may continue.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD