The second trimester is an enjoyable period of pregnancy. The morning sickness and exhaustion have almost disappeared
and forgotten. The aches and pain of advanced pregnancy are still too far away to bother you now. Your body has expanded enough for people to finally realize that you are pregnant and not just gaining weight. Your rate of growth is nothing compared to the baby’s as the baby’s major organs are fully ready by the 15th week. Some organs such as the heart and kidneys continue to develop further and the eyebrows and fingernails form by now.
You have gained around 5 pounds by now though the weight gain might differ for each person. Increased levels of estrogen can cause swelling of the mucus membranes and stuffing of the nose can be a common phenomenon. Pregnancy alters your immune system and makes you prone to infections like colds and flues so it is advisable to stay away from irritants like cigarettes, smokes and aerosols. To have a soothing effect you can use a humidifier or vaporizers as well as drink plenty of fluids.
Your Symptoms: You may notice an increase in libido due to increased blood flow to the pelvic region. Sex is considered safe in normal healthy pregnancies, so enjoy!
Baby’s Development: The baby’s inner ear has developed enough that she can hear you! Her first hair follicles are also forming.
Baby’s Size: 7.4 cm (size of an apple).
To Do: Now that your energy has returned, consider participating in a prenatal exercise class.
The baby is around 4 inches long and weighs around 1.75 ounces by now. The reddish and wrinkled skin gets covered with fine hair called Lanugo, though experts say that each baby develops differently even in the womb. This Lanugo enables the baby to maintain a constant body temperature and it almost disappears by the time the baby is born. The baby can swallow and hear you and other sounds now. You might be able to feel moments of activity and periods of rest as the baby moves, kicks, sleeps and wakes. You might notice some fluttering movements but they might not be so profound. The baby can grasp, squint, frown, grimace and suck the thumb at this stage. The skin is very thin and the blood vessels are visible. The baby’s legs have grown longer than the arms and the body is now longer than the head. Fingernails and toenails are growing and the eyebrows develop including some hair growth on the head. The baby has taste buds and can develop hiccups from time to time. The three little bones in the middle ear start hardening. The auditory centers in the baby’s brain do not develop so soon so the baby might not understand what he/she hears but the hearing capacity is developing very rapidly now. The amniotic liquid that surrounds the baby carries external sounds to travel to the baby especially the mother’s heart beat, stomach and voice.
Changes with your body
At this stage of pregnancy, many women begin to wonder about pregnancy weight gain. On an average most women gain around 5 pounds of weight by now which is quite less compared to the end of the pregnancy which is around 25-30 pounds. Gaining a little more or less does not matter as the amount varies from person to person. However, if the weight gain or loss is significantly higher or lower than this you should consult your doctor. You can discuss your diet with the medical practitioner and what to include or exclude depending on the requirement. You can feel the top of your uterus four to five inches below the belly button.
The healthcare provider will by now start measuring your fundal height at the prenatal appointments which is the distance between the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus. Larger clinics may chart this to measure the growth. This can help to give an insight into the position of the baby such as normal or breech position. In a breech position the fundal height will be slightly high while a low fundal height can signify a sideways position. You might feel the ligaments stretching in your abdomen as the uterus expands and this can cause cramps, twinges or pulling sensations on one or both sides of your abdomen. You can soak in a warm water bath to reduce the cramps.
There are a number of common bacterial infections that occur in pregnancy like urinary tract infection, bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Bacterial vaginosis can increase the risk of preterm labor and preterm rupture of the amniotic membranes surrounding the baby hence this needs to be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your practitioner. A urinary tract infection can lead to a kidney infection that can make you seriously ill and increase your risk of preterm labor. A yeast infection in a new born baby is called as a thrush which is not serious and can be easily treated. You can avoid these infections by wearing clean and breathable clothes, avoiding tight fitting clothes and undergarments especially as the pregnancy advances, avoid soaking for long periods of time in a bath tub or swimming in unclean swimming pools during pregnancy, avoiding sprays and perfumed soaps, avoid ignoring the urge to urinate and drink 8 to 9 glasses of water a day.
What to expect
You can start using correct postures while sleeping, walking and sitting in order to avoid problems later as the pregnancy advances. Even though your stomach is quite small in size now and there is no difficulty while lying on your back, you can start practicing sleeping on your side as this is the best position during pregnancy. Especially sleeping on the left side is the most comfortable and healthy position for you as well as your baby. Sleeping on the back causes the uterus to put pressure on the aorta and inferior vena cava which supplies blood to the baby and your lower body. Later as the pregnancy advances you can have difficulty in breathing if you continue sleeping on your back. Sleeping on the stomach is an absolute no as it can put extra pressure on the uterus as well as the entire abdomen. Extra pillows can be propped up to give support to your legs and entire body and ensure a comfortable sleep. This is the week when the baby can listen to sounds so you can start listening to soft music or try conversing with the baby which might seem odd but is a great way of starting the bonding process.