Changes in Your Body During Pregnancy – Second Trimester
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How will I feel in the second trimester, compared with the first?
Most women who didn’t feel so great in the first trimester of pregnancy usually start to feel much better in the second. The nausea and vomiting of morning sickness should lessen over time. You may have more energy and fewer mood swings as your hormones balance out. This will be a good time to tackle many tasks necessary to get ready for your baby.
Be prepared to gain weight more rapidly this trimester. This means you may need to start wearing maternity clothes.
Your breasts may not be as tender as they were in the first trimester, but they will continue to grow and prepare for breastfeeding. Enlarging milk glands and deposits of fat cause the growth.
You may also notice that the skin on and around your nipples will darken, and you might have small bumps around the nipples. The bumps are glands that make an oily substance to keep the nipples from drying out. A yellowish fluid called colostrum might begin to leak from your nipples.
As your body grows, some areas of skin may become stretched tight. Elastic fibers right below the skin may tear, creating streaks of indented skin called stretch marks. Stretch marks are likely to occur on your belly and breasts.
Not every pregnant woman gets stretch marks, but they are very common. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to prevent them completely. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your weight and make sure you don’t gain more than your healthcare provider recommends. Some manufacturers of lotions and oils claim these products can prevent stretch marks, but this hasn’t been proven. However, keeping your skin well moisturized can help cut down on itchiness. Stretch marks should fade and become less noticeable after pregnancy.
Other skin changes are possible, too, although not all women get them. Common skin changes include:
- Dry, itchy skin, especially on the belly.
- Increased sensitivity to the sun. This means you might burn more easily. Make sure you wear a strong sunscreen when spending time outside.
- A dark line (the “linea nigra”) down the middle of your belly from your navel to your pubic hair.
- Patches of darkened skin on the face (sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy”).
Most often, these changes may lessen or go away after pregnancy.
Your body is changing quickly to adapt to the growing baby. You may experience these body changes as well.
- Leg pain. You may have leg cramps, especially when you sleep. These may be related to the pressure your growing baby exerts on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. It may help to sleep on your side instead of your back. Another leg condition, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can be serious. DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein, causing pain and swelling in one leg. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have these symptoms.
- Your ankles, hands and face may swell during the second trimester. This is caused by fluid retention and slowed blood circulation.
- Aching back, pelvis and hips. The job of supporting your growing belly may strain your back. Your hips and pelvic area may begin to ache as pregnancy hormones relax the ligaments (tough, rope like bands of tissue) that hold bones together. The bones will begin moving in preparation for childbirth.
- Abdominal pain. The muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus will stretch and may hurt as your baby grows. These can cause mild pain or cramping.
- Loose teeth. Pregnancy hormones also affect the ligaments and bones in your mouth, so teeth may loosen. This will go away after pregnancy. Contact your dentist if you have bleeding or swelling of your gums. These symptoms can be signs of periodontal disease. This condition has been linked to preterm (early) birth and low birth weight. The second trimester is the best time to have dental work done.
- Nasal congestion, nosebleeds and bleeding gums. These result from increased blood flow to the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth.
- This burning feeling in the esophagus (the tube between the mouth and stomach) may begin or get worse in the second trimester. Your expanding uterus may press on your stomach and force food and acid up into your esophagus, causing the burn.
- Urinary tract infections. You may develop an infection in the second trimester. Hormonal changes slow the flow of urine and your bladder doesn’t empty completely because your enlarged uterus pushes on it. Untreated UTIs can lead to preterm labor, so contact your healthcare provider if you feel a burning sensation when you urinate, have to urinate more often, or notice blood or a strong odor in your urine.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. Also called “false labor,” Braxton Hicks contractions are a tightening of your uterine muscles. It’s one of the ways the uterus prepares for labor and delivery. Braxton Hicks make your belly feel very tight and hard and may cause discomfort. The contractions are irregular in timing and should go away within a few minutes. Contact your healthcare provider if they become regular and painful, and don’t go away when you change your position or walk around. It might be preterm labor. If contractions become regular and painful and don’t go away when you change your position or walk around, contact your healthcare provider. It might be preterm labor.
Near the middle of your second trimester, you may begin to feel the baby. In the beginning, it feels like fluttering movements deep in your belly. Your baby has moved before now, but it was too deep for you to feel it. If you’ve been pregnant before, you might notice the movements earlier because you’re familiar with how they feel. Mark your calendar when you first feel movements so you can let your healthcare provider know.
Things to consider
You may not have felt like having sex during the first trimester. Symptoms such as morning sickness, mood swings and low energy can affect your interest. Many women find that their desire for sex returns during the second trimester. Having sex is OK anytime during pregnancy, unless your healthcare provider says you shouldn’t.
When to see your healthcare provider
Continue to visit your healthcare provider for ongoing prenatal appointments. Ask your healthcare provider questions about the process and tell them about any concerns you have. Contact them if you have unusual changes or symptoms, especially if you have vaginal bleeding, leakage of clear fluid, burning with urination, leg swelling, or abdominal pains.