You’ve made it through your first few months of pregnancy, possibly keeping your news under wraps while nibbling on crackers and sipping on tea. Now that you’ve hit the second trimester, you may be excited to share the news, feeling better, and starting showing off your growing belly.
You also might be wondering what to expect in the second trimester and how you can prepare for your new arrival. We’ve got you covered, mama!
Second trimester: The golden weeks of pregnancy
First, when does second trimester start? Despite the common 12-week timeline many women stick to for sharing their pregnancies with the world, the second trimester actually begins at week 14.
The second trimester weeks – weeks 14-27 – are often considered the most enjoyable weeks of pregnancy. For many women, this is the sweet spot between the intense nausea and fatigue of the first trimester and the potential discomfort a growing baby brings in the third. You can likely expect breast tenderness to subside, and you might be feeling less anxious than you were in the earlier weeks. You can also expect to start feeling your baby move during this trimester! First movements – referred to as quickening – typically begin around week 20. This can vary slightly, but you can at least look forward to movement from your belly before reaching the third trimester.
The second trimester is when most women start to break through the mental fog of the first trimester and start to see their baby bump develop. Even if you still experience some discomfort, this is probably the best you’re going to feel leading up to motherhood, so soak it in! Enjoy finding fun and comfortable maternity clothes – possibly beginning to look into nursing bras like the yoga nursing bra and the super strappy nursing bra, keep eating nutritious foods to fuel your own body and your baby’s, and be sure to get in regular exercise to keep your baby and yourself healthy and as comfortable as possible.
Make room for baby: Stretch marks
As you track your baby’s growth (about the size of a lemon at the start of the second trimester!), you may be noticing your own body changing too. Your uterus is continually expanding with your baby, and you’ll soon see that baby bump growing with it.
In the excitement of seeing your pregnancy develop and adjusting your wardrobe accordingly, you might also be feeling your skin stretch around your belly, as well as possibly on your breasts, thighs, lower hips, and backside. Stretch marks are very common in pregnancy, though where they appear and how big they are differ from mom to mom.
What exactly are stretch marks? They’re essentially tiny tears in your skin’s layers that appear as your skin is stretched quickly, like during pregnancy or with weight gain or a growth spurt. They appear as streaks reminiscent of tiger stripes (hence the common phrase “earning your tiger stripes” as a mother), usually in a pink, red, brown, or even slightly purple color.
Because your skin is stretching and growing as quickly as it does in pregnancy, it’s difficult to avoid stretch marks altogether. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 90% of pregnant women will end up with some degree of stretch marks. However, you can help minimize their appearance and itchiness by keeping your skin well-hydrated, like with a stretch mark cream.
Bamboobies belly balm, for instance, encourages skin’s natural elasticity while moisturizing and soothing stretching skin. This can both curtail the overall appearance of stretch marks as they develop and relieve any discomfort or itching you may be feeling. Similarly, the stretch mark + scar balm helps condition skin to minimize scars and stretch marks, but with the added benefit of tocopherol (vitamin E), which is known to help reduce the appearance of scars after they’ve already developed.
Stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of, and they’re not a cause for concern, but they can be annoying if they start to itch. Keeping your growing belly moisturized can help keep you more comfortable throughout your pregnancy.
Your second trimester to-do list
Now that you’re a third of the way through your pregnancy and have worked through the initial excitement, you might be thinking about what comes next. How can you prepare for the remainder of your pregnancy?
Here’s you second trimester to-do list:
- Keep up with your own health and prenatal appointments. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins and going to your prenatal appointments. Your healthcare provider will keep you on track with any necessary screening tests and will keep an eye on your baby’s growth and heartbeat.
- Watch what you’re eating, and keep moving! As we’ve discussed before, what you eat while you’re pregnant matters. We hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not an excuse to eat nothing but ice cream for nine months (not that you can’t indulge in moderation from time to time). Be sure to maintain a balanced diet, and pay special attention to protein, calcium, and iron to ensure your baby keeps growing, develops strong bones and teeth, and efficiently receives oxygen through the blood stream. Make sure you get regular exercise, too.
- Prepare to see your baby! Most women have their first ultrasound between weeks 18 and 20. While the doctor examines the placenta, your baby’s anatomy, growth, and activity, and reviews the cervix and level of amniotic fluid, you get a sneak peek of the little life you’re growing! This is typically when you can find out the sex of your baby, if you so choose.
- Schedule a dentist appointment. Did you know you’re more susceptible to dental issues while you’re pregnant? Your baby needs a lot of calcium, which can leave you lacking and lead to more cavities. Not only that, but the hormonal changes you go through can make gum infections or bleeding more likely. The second trimester is the safest point in your pregnancy to have dental work done, but you should contact your dentist at any point if you notice something unusual.
- Get plenty of rest. We know, this is easier said than done. But between the hormonal fluctuations, extra energy expended, and any anxious feelings, you likely feel more tired than usual. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep at night, and nap as needed during the day. (Keep in mind, it’s only going to be harder to get enough sleep once the baby is here!)
- Listen to your body. There are some pregnancy symptoms that might seem strange, but they’re perfectly normal. For instance, you may find you have to go to the bathroom more often, your nose might be more congested, or you may experience more nosebleeds. Your skin can change color on your face or belly, you could see varicose veins or develop hemorrhoids, or you might experience heart burn, indigestion, or constipation. You have hormones to thank for all of these less-than-pleasant symptoms. You might also notice a white vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea. As long as it’s white, it's nothing to be concerned about. However, if you notice it change colors or turn bloody, be sure to contact your healthcare provider right away.
You’re just a few months away from meeting your little bundle of joy! Enjoy this time of preparation, and take good care of yourself, mama.
Healthline: When Is the Best Time to Announce Your Pregnancy?
Cleveland Clinic: Pregnancy: Second Trimester
Mayo Clinic: 2nd trimester pregnancy: What to expect
Johns Hopkins Medicine: The Second Trimester
BabyCenter: How big is my baby? Week-by-week fruit and veggie comparisons
American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Stretch Marks
What to Expect: Stretch Marks During and After Pregnancy
Flo: The Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 15 Dos and 8 Don’ts