Pregnancy

The Second Trimester: Your Complete Guide

Team Peanutabout 1 hour ago11 min read

Hello, second trimester ‒ things might just be feeling pretty real right now.

Second trimester

The first trimester can be a whirlwind of emotions and pretty sucky pregnancy symptoms, but you’ll probably start feeling a bit more like yourself during the second trimester.

Your to-do list (not to mention your baby bump) is growing, and the countdown is on!

So let’s make it simple for you. Put your feet up (doctor’s orders!) and settle in.

Here’s what to expect in the second trimester of pregnancy:

In this article 📝

  • When does the second trimester start?
  • What happens in the second trimester?
  • How much weight do you gain in second trimester?
  • Which fetal development occurs during the second trimester?
  • What to do in the second trimester

When does the second trimester start?

Many mamas ask if the second trimester starts at 13 or 14 weeks, due to the varying opinions on how long the first trimester is.

But the second trimester is officially regarded as starting at week 14.

Not sure how many months is 14 weeks? It’s around four to five months.

How many weeks is the second trimester of pregnancy?

The second trimester goes from week 14 through to the end of week 27.

This roughly covers months 4, 5, and 6 of your pregnancy.

What happens in the second trimester?

Some people refer to the second trimester as the “honeymoon period” of pregnancy.

While we’re not guaranteeing you’ll feel as frisky as a newlywed (although there’s no harm in having some fun between the sheets if you feel like it), you might have more energy than you did in the first trimester. Hooray!

So it’s all easy peasy from here, right?!

Well… Maybe. But there are still some common second-trimester symptoms to be aware of.

Round ligament pain

A fancy term for abdominal pain and cramps, or pelvic pain during pregnancy second trimester, the round ligament is the main support for your growing bump.

This may feel more like belly button pain ‒ pregnancy in the second trimester can feel a bit different for each person.

It’s not surprising that as it stretches and holds up more weight, you may experience some cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Resting, when you can, will help.

Braxton Hicks

If you’re having more intense abdominal pain, it could be Braxton Hicks – i.e. practice contractions.

Unlike real contractions, which get closer together and more intense, Braxton Hicks will stop and start irregularly.

They are more likely to come on in the afternoon/evening and will usually ease off if you change position or have a warm shower or bath.

If you are experiencing regular, painful, contractions that don’t fade away, don’t panic!

But do contact your midwife or doctor ‒ you may be in preterm labor.

Swelling

A common second-trimester symptom that generally starts around 20 weeks, mild swelling, called edema, can affect your feet and ankles.

Reducing your caffeine and salt intake, and elevating your feet when you’re sat down can help. If you notice sudden and extreme puffiness in your feet, hands, or face, though, it may be a sign of preeclampsia.

Leg cramping

We’re not sure why, but you might get more leg cramps during your second trimester.

If you do get cramps frequently, try these top tips:

  • Drink water (staying hydrated is fundamental)
  • Stretch your leg before sitting or lying down for long periods
  • Try to go on regular walks
  • Massage the leg area to ease out any knots
  • Eat magnesium-rich foods, like whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green veg
  • Have a warm bath or shower

Heartburn

Ugh. Indigestion. One of the more common second-trimester symptoms.

While most acid reflux during pregnancy starts at around week 27, getting pregnancy heartburn earlier isn’t unheard of.

If you keep getting indigestion, keep track of what you’re eating (pregnancy can change your food tolerances), eat little and often (avoiding massive family feasts where you can), and try to sit or stand upright after eating.

After a quicker pregnancy heartburn fix? Try TUMS or other antacids.

Nasal congestion

Nasal congestion can occur thanks to pregnancy hormones and the additional bodily fluid (like mucus) your body is producing. Nice!

Say sorry to your partner now because you may just start snoring like a bulldog.

Nosebleeds can be common too, so try not to freak out.

You might find that using a humidifier can help reduce your congestion and nosebleeds, if they’re a little too frequent for your liking.

Headaches

Another common second-trimester symptom is headaches, although usually less frequent than in the first trimester.

Drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest are great ways to prevent headaches, but if you’re in the throes of a throbbing head, Tylenol and paracetamol can be (relatively) quick fixes.

Light-headedness

With lower blood sugar than normal, pressure on your blood vessels, and hormonal changes, light-headedness is par for the course during the second trimester.

Standing up too quickly, or going too long without a snack or drink can make dizziness more common, but keep an eye on frequent dizzy spells.

Sensitive gums

One of the lesser-known second trimester pregnancy symptoms, sensitive gums can cause some gum bleeding.

While a little gum bleeding during pregnancy is normal, bleeding each time you brush your teeth could be a sign of something else, so it’s best to check with your doctor if you’re worried.

Going up a bra size

It makes sense that your breasts get bigger with pregnancy, and the second trimester is when you might start to notice a little tightness in your bra (if you wear one).

As your milk glands enlarge, you may go up a bra size ‒ wearing a bra with decent support can help with any heaviness or discomfort.

UTIs

Urinary tract infections in pregnancy aren’t something to ignore.

If you’re feeling an urgent need to pee and a burning sensation when you go, coupled with fever and/or backache, call your doctor.

Increased appetite

You’re literally eating for two (or more!), so it makes sense that your appetite will increase.

Your body needs more calories to best nourish you and baby, and an increase in appetite is simply your body’s way of telling you it needs more!

Not sure what to eat while pregnant? Check out our pregnancy meal plan guide.

Backache

Weight gain is another natural part of pregnancy in the second trimester.

But this weight gain can lead to extra pressure on your back, causing backache.

Pregnancy massages, chairs with lumbar support, and low-heeled shoes can help ease the backache.

Skin changes

You may have already noticed ‘pregnancy acne’ through the first trimester, and as your pregnancy continues, hormones increase the melanin in your skin.

This can lead to developing the ‘mask of pregnancy’ (darker patches of skin on your face), and a linea nigra (a dark line that runs up the middle of your bump).

Varicose veins can also make an appearance, as well as hemorrhoids, but all of these things tend to fade after you give birth.

You may also start to notice stretch marks appearing around your bump and breasts, as they grow, which can cause some itching.

Increased energy levels

From the tiredness of the first trimester comes the energy boost of the second trimester!

This is a great time to get prepped and ready for baby, since the third trimester can be uncomfortable with the full weight of baby.

Fast hair growth

Another of the second trimester symptoms that doesn’t usually get discussed is hair growth.

Your head hair may get thicker, and you might start seeing more hair than usual elsewhere on your body, like your back, arms, and face.

How much weight do you gain in second trimester?

It’s common to gain around 1 pound per week during the second trimester if you started pregnancy at a healthy weight.

Keeping active during pregnancy can help minimize uncomfortable symptoms, keep your weight gain in check, and prepare you for birth and the non-stop life as a mama.

It’s recommended to aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week, but it’s best to avoid:

  • Sports with an increased risk of falling or abdominal injuries such as horse riding, boxing, skiing, snowboarding, skating, mountain biking, or diving.
  • Sports where you spend extended periods lying on your back or standing still, like certain pilates exercises or yoga poses.
  • Advanced abdominal workouts including full sit-ups, planks, and leg raises.
  • Heavy weight lifting - if you have to hold your breath, it’s too heavy.
  • Exercise which incorporates excessive jumping or bouncing.

Which fetal development occurs during the second trimester?

During weeks 14 to 28, your baby will go from weighing around 43 grams to just over 1kg! Wow! Along with all this physical growth, baby is doing some pretty cool stuff in there.

Weeks 14-18

Your baby grows to the size of a sweet potato (about 14.5cm)
At this point, the umbilical cord is fully developed, and baby is regulating their heartbeat with their brain.

They’ll be covered in a furry coating of soft hair called lanugo to keep them warm and cozy. And they’ll be yawning, hiccuping, and generally being super cute.

Baby will start to move about more freely in their amniotic sac, and soon, you may start to feel them moving…

Weeks 19-23

Your baby grows to the size of a large grapefruit (about 29cm)
So all of a sudden your baby has grown, like, a lot!

Around 20 weeks, your fetus stops being measured from head to bum and is now measured from head to toe.

So yes, your baby is growing, but don’t worry, they won’t be running out of room just yet!

During this period, you might start feeling the first kicks as baby explores their home.

Called “quickening”, it’s a faint feeling that can easily be mistaken for a bit of stomach ache or gas!

The position of your baby and the placenta can impact how early you start feeling this new sensation, so don’t panic if you haven’t noticed it yet.

Weeks 24-28

Your baby grows to the size of an aubergine (about 37.5cm)
By this time, baby will have grown their organs, and will now focus on getting bigger.

Oxygenated blood will be flowing through their capillaries and your baby’s brain will be sending signals for their eyes to blink.

With developed senses, baby will be able to smell, taste, and even hear.

They’ll recognize your voice, so it’s time to start playing your favorite tunes if you want to feel them dancing.

What to do in the second trimester

You might want to make the most of this period, while the first trimester symptoms have worn off, but your baby bump isn’t too big or uncomfortable to get stuff done.

Nursery decorating or squeezing in a babymoon trip are fun ways to spend the second trimester weeks of pregnancy.

Your second-trimester checklist might also include:

  • Your mid-pregnancy or “anatomy scan” should be scheduled for between 18-22 weeks. It’s a detailed scan to check all baby’s vitals and you can also find out the sex of your baby now too (if they’re positioned just right)! If you’d rather not have any ultrasounds or scans done, let your doctor know ‒ you don’t have to have any tests or scans done that you don’t want to.
  • A glucose screening test checks for gestational diabetes and is usually done around week 24-28.
  • Planning your birth preferences, if you’re keen on a ‘birth plan’, with any specific requests for your baby’s arrival.
  • Prenatal genetic screening tests, if there are any known genetic risks to baby.
  • Get immunized with a flu jab and whooping cough vaccination.
  • Keep doing those Kegels (pelvic floor exercises). Postpartum-you will thank you for it!
  • Sleep on your left-hand side to avoid putting too much pressure on your circulatory system and kidneys. Don’t stress if you wake up on your back though, just turn over and start again! A pregnancy pillow can help get you comfy and make sleeping while pregnant that bit easier!
  • Clothes shopping! As your baby bump grows, maternity clothes look more and more appealing…
  • Preparing for maternity leave (where applicable). Start thinking about when you want to start your maternity or parental leave and if/when you’d like to return to work.

What to eat during second trimester of pregnancy

The best meals to eat during your second trimester are basically the same as the first trimester pregnancy meals.

It’s all about getting the essential nutrients:

  • Complex carbohydrates. Think legumes, whole grains, and veg.
  • Proteins. Lean meats, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Fiber. Whole grains, fruits, and pulses.
  • Folic acid or folate. Leafy greens and citrus fruits.
  • Calcium. Dairy products, broccoli, and kale.
  • Iron. Lean meat and fortified breakfast cereals.

Not sure what foods you’re allowed to eat and which foods you should avoid while pregnant? We’ve got you covered.

🤰 See next: The Third Trimester: Your Complete Guide