What happens to the baby during the second trimester?
Many changes happen with the baby during months four through six. The baby starts off around the size of a peach at the beginning of month four, and grows to about two pounds by the end of month six. During this time, the baby’s ears move to the correct position on the sides of its head, fingerprints are formed, and all facial features are present. The baby is able to suck its thumb and hiccup. Fingernails form during this time, and fine hair called lanugo begins to grow on its head. The nervous system begins to function, the baby starts to react to outside stimuli, and the mom can begin to feel baby’s first movements. “Quickening” refers to those first movements, and is described as a fluttering sensation, or can sometimes feel as though a gas bubble is in the abdomen.
What changes happen to the body of the mother during the second trimester?
The mother’s body goes through many changes during this time period. Symptoms such as morning sickness and lack of energy normally lessen by this time period, and other symptoms start. Mom may experience increased breast size, due to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, and growing milk glands. Weight gain due to the pregnancy also begins at this time.
Increased blood volume affects the expectant mother’s body, in addition to the weight gain. The woman may notice skin darkening in some areas, due to the increased blood circulation. The increased blood flow may also cause nosebleeds and bleeding gums. Dizziness is a symptom that can be quite bothersome. Blood vessels dilate and blood pressure drops, causing some women to get extremely dizzy, and sometimes faint. To cope with the dizziness, it is important to drink more fluids, and rise slowly after periods of sitting or lying down.
During this trimester, the uterus is noticeably growing bigger. Expectant moms normally gain about four pounds per month. During this period, stretch marks may begin to appear. They can appear pink, red, or purple and be located on the belly, breasts, upper arms, thighs, or buttocks. There is no way to prevent them, but moisturizers can help ease itching and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Pregnant women may experience increased discharge. It is usually thin and white. It is believed to help guard against harmful yeast and bacteria. Women need to notify their medical providers if they notice a change in the color of the discharge. They also need to watch for the signs of a kidney or bladder infection. A symptom of this is the increased feeling of a need to urinate, accompanied with fever or pain.
Appointments that should be made during the second trimester
During weeks 13 to 24, appointments occur about every three to four weeks for normal pregnancies. If there are any complications, the woman may be asked to visit more often. During these checkups, the doctor will monitor the baby’s heartbeat and heart rate with a fetal Doppler. The baby’s growth will be measured by fundal height, the measurement from the mother’s pubic bone to the top of her uterus.
Two tests are normally performed during the second trimester. The triple screening tests for Down’s syndrome and spinal defects. If the tests turn out positive, they are usually followed by an amniocentesis to rule out a false-positive result. A glucose screening is also performed during this time period, to test for gestational diabetes.
For some women, the most exciting part of the second trimester is gender determination. Normally, between 18 to 22 weeks, an ultrasound will be scheduled to check that the baby is developing well. Parents can choose to find out the gender of the baby at this time.
The second trimester of pregnancy is normally the easiest for the mother to endure. Knowing what to expect will help her get through this time period with a little more ease.