Weeks 14 through 26
What is happening with our baby?
Things are really progressing with your baby by now! Your baby is growing eyebrows and eyelashes as well as hair on his/her head. Your baby’s skin is still wrinkled and red, but he/she is slowly filling out. By the end of this trimester, he/she will be about 14 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds. He/She will move around freely—you’ll know when he/she is wide awake and when she’s resting. You may even feel him/her hiccup.
What is happening with you?
Your second trimester can be a particularly satisfying time. For many women, morning sickness disappears and energy is renewed. The emotional peaks and valleys tend to level out. And between approximately 20 and 22 weeks, you’ll feel movement for the first time—an experience like no other.
As your appetite increases, you will find yourself hungry more often, and you will gain about 1 pound a week. For several months, your “former” wardrobe will languish in the closet. Some women are alarmed by weight gain, but this is not the time to diet! Nor is this the time to use pregnancy as an excuse to consume massive quantities of junk food. Focus on eating quality food to nourish yourself and your little one.
In addition to a spreading waistline, you will also notice changes in your skin. A line down the middle of you abdomen may darken. Your nipples and the area around them may become much darker as well. It is important to wear sun protection to prevent a condition called melasma—brown spots that occur due to increased pigmentation due to circulating hormones. As you grow stretch marks may appear on your abdomen, hips and breasts. Lotions can be used to massage the skin and help relieve any dryness or itching. Stretch marks cannot unfortunately be prevented, but they will fade somewhat after your baby is born.
Almost all pregnant women experience backaches during the last half of the pregnancy. A heating pad and/or an ice pack can help ease the discomfort. Because of the changes in your center of gravity as the baby grows, it is very important to practice good posture. Stretching and light exercising throughout your pregnancy also helps reduce the incidence and severity of back pain. Wearing low heels, sleeping on a firm mattress, taking frequent rest breaks during the day and shifting positions when standing in one place are all things you can do to avoid backaches.
Be sure to let your provider know if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: unusual vaginal discharge; itching or sores; severe vomiting or continued morning sickness; a temperature higher than 101 degrees; pain or burning with urination; sudden weight gain and/or swelling of the hands, feet, face or ankles; a marked decrease in urination; severe or persistent headaches; or dizziness or blurred vision.
You should also be aware of these signs of premature labor, and contact your provider immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding (except spotting after pelvic exam)
- A gush or uncontrolled leaking of fluid from the vagina
- Sharp, constant abdominal pain
- Cramps combined with a low, dull backache that lasts more than one hour
At the care provider visit
During your second trimester, your prenatal visits will continue to occur about every four weeks. At each visit, your weight and blood pressure will be checked and a urine sample taken. Your provider will measure your baby’s growth and listen to his/her heartbeat. You will want to ask any questions and concerns you may have. Many women find it helpful to bring a written list of questions with them to their appointments.
Depending on your specific needs and your provider’s style of practice, a variety of tests and screenings may be done during the second trimester.
If your provider wants to do ultrasound scanning, this will typically take place between the 19th to 21st weeks. Ultrasonography uses sound waves that bounce off internal tissues and bones to produce an image of your baby. This scanning is safe for you and your baby and can help determine the accuracy of your due date by checking it against the baby’s size. It shows the position of the baby and the placenta, as well as the amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds his/her, and provides an opportunity for spotting potential problems. Depending on the position of your baby at the time, an ultrasound may also reveal the sex of your child. (Be sure to tell the technician before the ultrasound if you do or don’t want to know the sex of your child. Many parents like to keep it a surprise.)
If your initial tests showed that your blood is Rh-negative, your provider will give you an injection of RhoGam at 28-29 weeks of pregnancy, and again following the birth if your baby is Rh-positive. This prevents your body from producing antibodies that could attack the baby’s Rh-positive blood.
Because your energy level will be at its peak during the second trimester, this is an ideal time to begin preparations for your new baby. If you plan to return to work after your baby is born, you will need to find child care. Many day-care centers have long waiting lists, so it is important to begin your search now.
A note about cord-blood storage/donation
In your second trimester, consider signing up for an umbilical-cord-blood donation and/or storage. Blood from your baby’s umbilical cord can be used to help people with severe illnesses that require a stem-cell transplant. The process for cord-blood donations is very easy and completely painless. Just ask your provider about your local resources. After your baby is born, your baby’s cord blood will be retrieved from the umbilical cord and stored in a bank.