Second trimester of pregnancy: weeks, symptoms, precautions, clinical tests, diet plan, exercise, etc.
The second trimester of pregnancy is the golden period of pregnancy. During this time the problems of the first trimester usually subside and the problems of the third trimester have not yet begun. So the expectant mother can enjoy this time to the fullest. Like the first trimester, this trimester also has some symptoms, physical changes, precautions, clinical tests, diet plan and exercise routines.
2nd Trimester of Pregnancy Weeks:
The second trimester of pregnancy starts from week 13 and continues up to week 26. This time your baby develops frequently inside your womb and you starts to feel your baby more and more.
2nd Trimester of Pregnancy Symptoms:
The second trimester also has some unique symptoms. Usually the symptoms of the first trimester now start disappearing.
As your baby grows, so does your uterus. The uterus expands to make room for your growing baby and as a result your belly increases in size. You may start to notice your increasing baby bump during the early second trimester.
The breast tenderness is usually gone with the first trimester. During this time the fat deposition and enlarging milk glands stimulate breast growth. As a result, your breasts continue to increase and prepare themselves for breastfeeding. Also, this time the skin around the nipples darkens.
Increased Appetite and Weight Gain:
During the second trimester of pregnancy, in most of the cases the morning sickness, nausea, and food aversion all disappears. Your growing baby directly sends a clear message for more nourishment. As a result you enjoy an increased appetite. You need extra 300-500 calories per day at this time. Finally, for all these reasons you gain about 1/2 to 1 pound per week.
Melasma and Linea Nigra:
During the 2nd trimester a type of brown patches appear in the expected mother's face. These brown patches are called melasma. Because of hormonal changes, the amount of melanin pigment increases in skin cells and that causes melasma. During this time a dark line appears in the abdominal area down from the navel to the pubic hairs, it's called linea nigra. After the delivery, these skin problems usually faded.
Stretch marks are the most common problem among all the expected mothers. At this time the skin of the increasing areas of the body like abdomen, breast, thighs are stretched which leads to the appearance of stretch marks. As stretch marks are inevitable due to skin stretching, it is not possible to prevent it in any way.
Braxton Hicks Contractions:
From this time pregnant women might feel some kind of contraction or tightening in the abdominal area or in uterus muscles. This is called Braxton Hicks contractions or false labour. By this process your uterus prepares for labour and delivery. Though it is irregular in timing, most of the cases occur in the afternoon or evening, after physical activity or after intercourse and lasts for some minutes. If these contractions become more regular and painful immediately see your doctor. It might be preterm labour.
Dizziness is most common in the second trimester of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes, hormonal changes, lower blood pressure, hyperemesis gravidarum can all cause dizziness. You also may feel dizziness if your growing fetus creates pressures on the uterus and on your blood vessels. Liying on your back also causes dizziness because it creates pressure on the expanding uterus and blocks the blood flow. When you feel dizzy, lie down by your side, it may help you.
Leg cramps are very common during the second trimester, specifically at night time. If you sleep on your back instead of your side, your growing baby creates pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that go to the legs. Which causes leg cramps. To relieve this, stretch your calf muscles before going to bed, have water, and stay physically active.
At this time a pregnant woman can see swelling at their ankles, hands and face. This is because the body starts to retain extra fluids and the amount of blood also increases at this time. Slower blood circulation also causes swelling.
Hip, back and pelvis aching is also one of the most common problems during this time. The relaxing hormone relaxes the ligament of your pelvic area, moves the bones and loosens the joints in preparation of birth. Contact your health-care provider if it becomes severe.
With your growing baby bump your muscles and ligaments stretched, it can cause mild pain or cramps in the abdominal region.
The second trimester is the best time for dental checkup as hormonal changes also affect the ligaments and bones of your mouth. Frequent vomiting also affects your tooth enamel. As a result your teeth may loosen and gums become more sensitive. After pregnancy all return to normal. If you have bleeding or swelling of gums, have a dental checkup. It is also related to preterm birth and lower birth weight.
As hormone levels and the amount of blood increases, nasal problems are very common in the expected mothers during the second trimester. The mucous membranes swell and bleed, resulting in a nosebleed.
Vaginal Discharge or Leukorrhea:
Excessive vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea, is very common in the second trimester of pregnancy. It protects the vagina from infection by maintaining the pH during pregnancy. It can be thin, clear, or milky white, and mild smelling. if the discharge yellow, green, or gray in colour, strong and foul odor
accompanied by redness or itching, or vulvar swelling contact your doctor.
Urinary Tract Infection:
During the second trimester of pregnancy urinary tract infection is very common. When urinating if you have pain, if your urine has an unusually strong smell contact your health-care provider.
During the second trimester of pregnancy the hormonal changes boost your hair growth. The hair becomes thicker than ever before.
Heartburn and Constipation:
At this time the progesterone hormone increases in the body, which relaxes certain muscles which are related to digestion. It causes digestive problems like heartburn and constipation. Avoid spicy and greasy foods, add some fibres in your diet, have enough water every day and stay physically active.
Second Trimester Pregnancy Precautions:
As your pregnancy continues, you have to be more aware of pregnancy precautions. A single mistake can put your baby and you in danger. Here we give you a list of our suggested do's and don'ts during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Have Prenatal Vitamins:
During the second trimester you have to continue your prenatal vitamins. You and your developing baby need enough nutrients, especially at this time.
Practicing exercises during this time is the best way to stay fit. By practicing some kind of exercises your body also prepares itself for delivery. Walking, running, kegel exercises, and pregnancy-friendly yogas are beneficial for you.
Have Proper Diet:
As your pregnancy continues you have to maintain a healthy diet plan. During the second trimester a pregnant woman needs 2200 calories per day. You must include the right amount of proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in your diet.
During the second trimester a expectant mother needs 10-12 glasses of water per day. Dehydration increases pregnancy complexities.
Have Dental Care:
During this time the hormonal changes cause dental problems. You have to take care of your teeth and gums because dental issues can cause premature labor. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists every expectant mother should have a routine oral health assessment.
Avoid Strength Training:
Avoid strenuous exercise or strength training because it can cause injuries in the stomach.
Avoid Alcohol, Illegal Drug Consumption:
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Studies show illegal drug consumption during pregnancy causes miscarriages, premature birth, birth defects, etc.
Smoking during pregnancy is very harmful for both the mother and the baby. It causes birth defects. According to the National Institutes of Health babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a lower birth weight and are at a greater risk for learning disabilities than children born to non-smoking mothers.
Avoid Sea Foods Having High in Mercury:
A pregnant woman should avoid mercury rich seafoods because it is very harmful for the growing fetus. The mercury harms the nervous system of the baby. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests avoiding seafoods like Bigeye tuna, King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Swordfish, Shark, Tilefish during pregnancy.
Avoid Undercooked Meat, Poultry, Eggs, Unpasteurized Milk:
During this time a pregnant woman should avoid undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, unpasteurized milk because these can increase the chance of food poisoning. Consuming these things can make you ill and also harm your baby.
Avoid Cat Litter:
The cat litter carries a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It is very harmful for a pregnant woman. This bacteria can cause various pregnancy complications, even miscarriages, stillbirths can happen.
Second Trimester Clinical Tests:
Just like the first trimester, your doctor asks you to have some specific clinical tests during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Second Trimester Diet Plan:
A healthy and properly balanced diet is very important during pregnancy because the health of an expected mother and the child inside her womb fully depend on it. Here we try to give a clear idea about the required diet plan.
When you visit your doctor, your doctor will do your brief physical examination, like blood pressure, weight, etc. After that the doctor ask you about the followings:
- Diet and prenatal vitamin use
- Sleep pattern
- Fetal movements
- Symptoms of preterm labor
- Symptoms of preeclampsia, such as swelling
- Clinical check ups:
The measurement from the top of your pelvic bone to the top of your uterus is known as fundal height. By measuring the fundal height the doctors understand the fetal growth.
By using the Doppler ultrasound the doctors learn about the heart rate of the baby. It can vary the range from 120 to 160 beats per minute.
Edema (feet swelling):
The doctor checks your legs, feet, and ankles for swelling. Though it is a very common problem in pregnancy, abnormal swelling indicates complexities like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or blood clotting.
Blood Pressure and Weight Gain Test:
The doctor checks your blood pressure which typically decreases during pregnancy for hormonal changes. Your doctor checks your weight. Then according to your previous weight, number of babies you are carrying and your present weight they calculate your weight gain.
Ultrasound is a very common test during the second trimester of pregnancy. Some people have their first ultrasound scan during the first trimester to confirm the pregnancy and some people have their first ultrasound scan during this time. It is completely safe for the expected mother and the baby. Through this scan the doctors learn lots of information about the baby inside the womb. If there is any kind of problem, they diagnosed that with the ultrasound.
Triple screen test:
Triple screen test is a kind of blood test where the mother's blood is tested for three substances like AFP, hCG and estriol. Through this test the doctors recognise fetal defects like down syndrome, trisomy 18 syndrome, and spina bifida. The test is taken between week 15 to week 22.
Cell-free fetal DNA test:
Cell-free fetal DNA is a genetic material released by the placenta which carries the genetic information of the baby. The doctors test the cell-free fetal DNA. This tests detects chromosomal abnormalities.
It is a diagnosis test where the doctors take some sample of amniotic fluid by inserting a needle through the skin from the amniotic sac of the mother. This test detects genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in the baby.
One-hour glucose tolerance test:
This test is used to detect gestational diabetes. In this test you have to drink about 50 grams of sugar solution and after an hour the doctor checks the sugar level in the blood.
How much calories is required for an expectant mother during the second trimester of pregnancy?
During the second trimester of pregnancy a normal weight woman needs about 2200 calories per day.
What nutrients should a pregnant woman include in her diet plan during the second trimester of pregnancy?
An expectant mother should consume adequate amounts of nutrients during this time because the overall health of the mother and the fetus fully depend on that. According to the National Institutes of Health eating well prevents pregnancy complications, including preterm birth, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.
Iron is one of the most important nutrients for the human body. During the second trimester of pregnancy a pregnant woman needs 27 milligrams of iron per day. Iron is the major component for oxygen supply. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, increases the risk of complications, such as premature birth and postpartum depression. Eat fortified breakfast cereals, lean meat, cooked seafood, leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils to get the proper amount of iron.
Calcium helps to form the teeth and bones of your developing baby. It is also necessary for growing muscles, nerves and the circulatory system. A pregnant woman needs about 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium per day. To get proper amount of calcium have milk( dairy products), eggs, white beans, almonds, sardines and salmon (with bones), greens, such as kale, broccoli, and greens
calcium-fortified fruit juices and breakfast cereals.
Protein is the key component for growing the brain of your baby. In the second trimester of pregnancy a woman needs 1.52 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight each day. Protein is very essential for the growth of the expected mother's uterus and breasts. Eat protein-rich foods like lean meats, nuts, tofu, eggs, fish, peas, beans, and lentils.
Folic acid or vitamin B9 is very essential micronutrient during this time of pregnancy. It prevents neural tube defects, reduces the risk of premature labor. An analysis of 18 studies suggests that folic acid significantly decreases the risk of congenital heart defects. An expectant mother should consume about 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day during the second trimester of pregnancy. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach, cabbage, and collard greens, black-eyed peas and other legumes, oranges, and whole grains for the proper amount of folic acid.
Vitamin D is a key vitamin for the bones and teeth development of babies. Vitamin D can be synthesized in the human body through sunlight. However, according to a study more than 40 percent of the adult population in the United States have vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun exposure and other factors.
Some sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna, and mackerel, fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, etc.
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are the most important nutrients for both mother and her child. It is essential for your baby's heart, brain, eyes, immune system, and central nervous system. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease the risk of preeclampsia, premature delivery, postpartum depression. During the second trimester a expectant mother needs 1.4 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day. You can add oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna, herring, and sardines, fish oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds in your diet plan.
A pregnant woman needs more water than a normal woman in order to form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood, build new tissue, carry nutrients, enhance digestion, and flush out wastes and toxins. During the second trimester a pregnant woman should drink at least 8 to12 glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration. Dehydration during pregnancy can cause severe health issues in both mother and fetus.
Second Trimester Exercises:
During the second trimester of pregnancy every woman should practice pregnancy friendly exercises. Exercise during pregnancy helps you to stay fit. It helps in digestion, strengthens your muscles, relaxes your body, prevents many complexities, reduces pregnancy pains like lower back pain, decreases blood pressure and prepares your body for birth.
Which kind of exercises are good at the second trimester?
Walking and jogging:
Walking and jogging are perfect for pregnant women. These kinds of low impact exercises are safe. A pregnant woman can take 20-30 minutes of walking or jogging three to five times a week during the second trimester.
There are many kinds of pregnancy friendly yogas which help the expected mother to stay fit. By practicing yoga you will learn how to breathe with your body movements. These practices help you in the time of labor and delivery. 30 minutes of session, three to five times in a week at best at this time.
Water aerobics and swimming:
Water exercises are best during the second trimester of pregnancy because it is safe, the motion of water is low impact and it helps to stretch, strengthen the muscles without twisting the abdominal area. A pregnant woman can have a session of 30 minutes, three to five times a week.
End of the second trimester:
The second trimester of pregnancy ended at the end of week 26. At this time your fetus will be about 13 to 16 inches long and weigh about 2 to 3 pounds.
Here we mention all kinds of symptoms during this time. At this time you can easily identify your physical changes. You should make a list of all the precautions you have to take this time. Here we give a list of precautions that may be helpful.
We also give you an obvious idea about the suggested clinical tests. We briefly indicate recommended diet plans and exercises during the second trimester of pregnancy. Hope this article will be helpful to you. To know about the first trimester check our article about the first trimester of pregnancy.