The second trimester starts at week 13 and ends at week 27 of pregnancy.
It is the most comfortable part of pregnancy — 2nd trimester usually brings the least amount of pains, body changes, and unpredictable emotions with it.
To make this time as easy as possible, here is a list of what is useful and what is harmful during this period.
Things to do in the second trimester of pregnancy
1. Visit your doctor
If your pregnancy is going well, you should see your doctor once a month during the second trimester.
Bloody vaginal discharge or swelling of hands and face are occasions for an unscheduled visit to the doctor.
2. Undergo second-trimester screening tests
- Ultrasound (weeks 18–20). The doctor will examine the placenta, the fetal anatomy, activity, growth rate, and blood circulation, as well as determine the amount of amniotic fluid and the length of the cervix.
- Blood tests (weeks 15–20, ideally 16–18) to check the markers of genetic conditions or birth defects.
If the results of the screening tests differ from the norm, the doctor will recommend an additional examination.
3. Get vaccinated against flu
According to WHO recommendations, if there are no contraindications, pregnant women should be vaccinated against flu (after consulting their doctor).
The vaccine does not contain living pathogens, so there’s no reason to worry about getting sick after the injection.
The immune system reacts to the vaccination by producing special protein compounds called antibodies, which remain in the body.
When these antibodies come into contact with a real influenza virus, they instantly block it, preventing the development of the disease.
Why is it so important? In pregnant women, the course of flu can be complicated and fraught with negative consequences like pneumonia or myocarditis.
Penetrating the placenta, the virus can cause premature birth or congenital pneumonia in the baby.
4. Go to the dentist
It is very important to visit the dentist, even if you have never had problems with your teeth and gums before pregnancy.
The growing baby takes a large amount of calcium from your own stores, which can reduce the protective function of tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Hormonal changes can make the gums more susceptible to infection and/or bleeding and swelling.
If you notice any changes, consult your dentist — the second trimester is the safest time for dental treatment.
5. Eat a balanced diet
Scientists have found that the period from conception up to the age of 2 years is the most important time for building a baby’s health, and a balanced diet is crucial for their growth and development.
- Protein is the main component of your diet that is necessary for fetal growth. Try to eat more meat, fish, and legumes.
- Calcium is important for your baby’s teeth and bones as well as for the correct development of her muscular and nervous systems.
- Iron helps blood carry oxygen to your baby. As this microelement is poorly absorbed, it is not always enough to eat foods rich in iron (e.g., lentils, spinach, and red meat). According to many studies, iron supplements can reduce the risk of anemia. However, only a doctor can prescribe them and determine the dosage.
6. Eat frequent and small meals
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause heartburn and constipation. If it bothers you, try to eat small amounts of food more often. Include more fiber in your diet and drink plenty of liquids.
7. Take pregnancy vitamins
Balanced nutrition is the best way to provide your body with everything it needs. However, it is not always possible to get enough vitamins with food alone.
Multivitamin complexes for pregnant women contain basic microelements and minerals in the necessary dosages.
Remember that only a doctor can prescribe medications. They will determine the duration of administration and assess the risk of side effects.
8. Watch your weight
Steady weight gain is an important indicator of a healthy pregnancy.
Weight gain is influenced by the course of pregnancy, the body type of the woman, and the size of the fetus. Your doctor will constantly monitor this parameter and give useful recommendations.
9. Stay physically active
Studies show that regular exercise during pregnancy can prevent complications during childbirth and reduce the risk of cesarean section.
If your pregnancy is progressing without complications, and the doctor allows training, exercising will help your body prepare for giving birth — and for recovery afterward.
Besides increasing energy levels and improving your blood circulation and endurance, exercise also contributes to the intensive delivery of oxygen to the baby, reducing the risk of various intrauterine complications.
Try to exercise regularly, but not for long periods at a time, and be sure to avoid dehydration and overheating.
The safest types of exercise for expectant mothers during this period include:
- special gymnastics
- fitball exercises
- water aerobics
10. Talk to your baby
From approximately week 18, pay attention to what is happening in your tummy: most likely, you will feel the first stirring of your baby during this time.
This is how your little one will communicate with you: expressing joy, anxiety, and pleasure, and responding to your emotional state with active jolts or calmness.
Talk to your child, and you are likely to feel them respond.
If, at some point, it seems that your baby’s movements have changed (there are fewer or more of them), tell your doctor about it.
11. Try to sleep well
Hormonal fluctuations, mood changes, and the anxiety typical of all expectant mothers can be exhausting. Try to get enough sleep — at least 7–9 hours at night — and rest during the day as soon as you feel tired.
12. Renew your wardrobe
Enjoy some shopping and buy special maternity clothing.
You are likely to feel uncomfortable in your regular outfits, and wearing them can slow down blood circulation, provoke heartburn, etc.
13. Use anti-stretchmark creams
Your tummy is growing, and your skin is stretching quickly. Collagen and elastin fibers are breaking, which may lead to stretch marks.
Each expectant mother has her own individual genetic predisposition to stretch marks, so it is difficult to prevent them. However, you can reduce the discomfort and unpleasant itching by moisturizing your skin frequently.
Special creams help to keep moisture in the upper layers of the skin, making it softer and more elastic. Apply them to your stomach, breasts, and hips.
14. Spend more time with your family
If you have an older child, he or she may experience anxiety associated with the expectation of a new family member and the fear of losing your affection.
Try to devote as much time as possible to your older child so that in the future, her or she will feel more comfortable when the baby arrives.
15. Let yourself rest and travel
Most likely, the fatigue and discomfort of the first trimester have passed, your belly is still small(ish), and nothing prevents you from leading an active lifestyle.
If your pregnancy is going well, without complications, discuss travel plans with your doctor to determine whether the duration, route, and potential climate change of the trip will be safe for you.
If there are no medical contraindications, you can relax and plan your vacation.
Things to avoid in the second trimester of pregnancy
1. Don’t take medications without consulting your doctor
Many drugs can easily pass through the placenta into the bloodstream of your baby. Therefore, before taking any medicine, you need to make sure it is safe and consult with your doctor.
2. Don’t let stress into your life
Even one of the happiest periods in your life can become complicated and stressful.
Of course, hormonal changes can often influence your emotions and reactions; you may also face difficult situations, but you should try to keep stress to a minimum.
Learn breathing and relaxation techniques.
Try to concentrate on something pleasant (for example, thinking about your baby), share your feelings with your relatives and your doctor, and learn to control your emotions and thoughts. Remember to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
3. Don’t lie on your back for a long time
In the second trimester, expectant mothers are cautioned to avoid lying on their backs for a long time. The uterus is already quite large and can put pressure on the spine and the major blood vessels in the area.
Squeezing such an important vessel as the inferior vena cava automatically reduces the blood flow to the heart. This can make the baby suffer, too, as the little one will not get enough oxygen from the mother.
Try to lie more on your left side: this position is considered the most favorable.
Your baby will help you to find a comfortable position — just pay attention to his reactions.
4. Don’t wear high heels
As your pregnancy progresses, you will have to give up high-heeled shoes.
First, it is important for you: your spine is continuously adapting to the increasing pressure, and uncomfortable footwear worsens it, changes the support point of the whole body, and affects the ligaments of the ankle joint.
In addition, wearing stiletto heels can change the position of the uterus, which will be uncomfortable for the baby.
If you are not ready to completely forget about your favorite shoes, try to choose those with a steady, wide heel no higher than 2 in (5 cm).
5. Don’t participate in dangerous sports
You are already aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle during pregnancy, but you need to know where to draw the line.
Do not exhaust your body with intense and frequent training. This sort of stress can impede blood flow to the placenta and reduce the oxygen supply to your baby.
During pregnancy, you should also give up high-risk sports that could cause trauma to your abdomen.
6. Don’t consume too much caffeine
Caffeine can pass through the placenta to the baby and increase his heart rate. Therefore, pregnant women are recommended to drink no more than 1–2 cups of coffee a day.
7. Don’t smoke
Active and passive smoking during pregnancy, as well as chewing tobacco, impedes fetal growth and leads to an increased risk of premature birth.
To help protect your baby, ask your friends and relatives to avoid smoking in your presence.
8. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol easily passes through the placental barrier into the bloodstream of the baby. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can disrupt the intellectual and psychological development of the baby, as it primarily affects brain structures, and it increases the risk of premature birth.