Second Trimester of Pregnancy: What to Expect from 13 - 26 weeks of Pregnancy

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The second trimester of pregnancy is exciting and more comfortable than the previous. This trimester covers between week 13 and 26 of pregnancy. Most women get fully adjusted to the reality of being pregnant and expecting a baby in this trimester.

At least the uneasy feeling, tiredness and morning sickness most commonly experienced in the first trimester must have practically disappeared or abated drastically. Second trimester of pregnancy has been adjudged as the most enjoyable and a comfort zone of the three stages of pregnancy.

At the end of first trimester the embryo measuring 4 inches long and weighing a little over 1 ounce is expected to grow into about 10-14 inches in crown-to-rump fetal length, weighing an average of 1.5 pounds.

The developing baby therefore has to grow very rapidly in the second trimester of pregnancy, and as a result every pregnant woman is expected to start gaining noticeable weight at this time whether with a single or multiple fetuses.

About Your Baby in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Fetus starts developing its own organs in this trimester and you should expect your baby to actively live the fetal life while growing into maturity.

At 14 weeks the baby is about 2.25 inches ( 56mm) long from head to bottom. The baby’s heart beats very fast and so strong that could be heard with ultrasound detector. Besides, the baby also could hear the heart beat and voice of the mom at this time.

At week 15, the baby is now growing quickly as the body develops to catch-up with the head in proportion. The face begins to look much more human with eyelashes and eyebrows coming in place, though the eyelids remain closed over the eyes. At the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, the baby’s eyelids are expected to open for the first time.

At the second trimester of pregnancy, between 18-22 weeks, expect your baby to move for the first time, particularly if you’re having your first pregnancy. Women having second pregnancy may feel fetal movement 4 weeks earlier between 14-16 weeks.

Starting with a kind of fluttering or shifting movement, the baby will kick and move about inside you from this trimester. If you’re quite observant, you would be able to identify the movement patterns of your baby and understand more of the new life you’re nurturing inside you.

Also, hair begins to grow on the baby’s head as well as the appearance of fine hair ( lanugo) that usually cover the skin of the baby about 22 weeks. Fingers and toes and their nails grow out at this time with visible lines of fingerprint.

Your baby becomes very lively responding to touch and sound, sleeping and waking; enjoying in the amniotic comfort of your womb and covered with what is called vernix - a white greasy substance that is believed to protect the skin of the baby in the amniotic fluid.

At 26 weeks, ending the second trimester of pregnancy, the baby is expected to measure between 10 to 14 inches long and weigh about 1.5 pounds.

About the Mom in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

So much is expected of your baby in this trimester and as the would-be-mom, you have a role to play.Your body feels, fast adjusts and responds to the changes from your baby’s rapid growth and development. It is most likely your pregnancy weight gain becomes much more noticeable.

You will feel your baby kicking and moving vigorously inside you. Close observation will help you to feel and guess the head, hand, and foot of your baby when it kicks at this time.

Hormonal changes in your body may trigger a dark line (linea nigra) running from the navel down the centre of your belly to the pubic bone. Although not all women experience this strange skin change, and if it occurs, rest assured it’ll fade away or diminish after the baby is born.

Back pain is a common symptom from the changes your body experience in the second trimester of pregnancy. Farting, lower abdominal ache, headache, nasal congestion and occasional nosebleeds, heartburn and indigestion, skin changes, dizziness, unusual hair growth, absentmindedness, swollen ankles and feet, mood swings and leg cramps are symptoms that are most common in the second trimester.

Every woman is different and so unique is every pregnancy. If you experience any of the above symptoms or not, it doesn’t necessarily determine what’s normal. Whatever you experience, always feel free to discuss it with your care giver and ask questions during your next antenatal visit.

During your antenatal visits which comes about once in every 4weeks, you will have to take routine checkup and examination to monitor and ensure your healthy well-being. Don’t miss any of your antenatal appointments; it’s important for you and your baby.

The common second trimester tests include but are not limited to the under-listed;

Blood Sugar Screening Test
To check for signs of gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy).

Alpha-fetoprotein ( AFP) Test
To check for any trace of brain or spinal problems in the baby.

Amniocentesis Fluid Test
To check how well the baby’s lungs are developing or a trace of any genetic disorders.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) Tissue Test
To check for any trace of genetic disorders in the baby, usually conducted in the early part of the second trimester.

Your healthcare giver may also schedule you for a second trimester (level 2) ultrasound. Ultrasound examination is another great way of tracking how the baby is developing; to get more valuable information about the dynamic changes of your baby inside the womb at the second trimester of pregnancy.

Ultrasound in second trimester of pregnancy is carried out to check the size of the baby, examine major organs and sex of the baby, fetal heart beat rate and baby’s position; probing any possible fetal abnormalities and providing specific information about your pregnancy well-being.

Possible Warning Signs in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Miscarriage is one of the major issues that call for concern during the second trimester, Incompetent Cervix is believed to be responsible for about 20% of second trimester miscarriages.

Incompetent cervix describes the premature opening and dilation of the cervix without any apparent uterine contractions or vaginal bleeding. This may be due to pressure from the growing baby, expanding uterus, multiple conception, cervical weakness or trauma.

If incompetent cervix is diagnosed before causing miscarriage, your obstetrician can take steps to help protect the pregnancy through the process of cervical closure called cerclage.

Though there are times some women just experience incompetent cervix without any warning sign, however some have reported symptoms that perhaps indicated incompetent cervix.

Among the common warning signs are strange pelvic heaviness, lower abdominal pressure and pain, vaginal bleeding, lump in vaginal area, decrease in fetal movement etc. Any of these symptoms can help you pin-point or suspect cervical incompetence.

Call your OBY/Healthcare provider right way when you notice any of the above strange symptoms.

In the second trimester of pregnancy and beyond, as a general rule and advice, build a good relationship and co-operate with your healthcare provider. S(he) is there to help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

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