You are now at the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, so enjoy this period while it lasts. The last three months will involve
putting on a lot of weight thus making you uncomfortable and not as mobile as you were in the second trimester. The uterus keeps expanding now to accommodate the growing size of the baby. The fetus does not have as much room in the uterus now as space gets tighter. Because of the increasing weight of your body, you may experience backaches, bladder problems, and fatigue along with sore feet and nose bleeds.
The baby now has no place in the uterus to do somersaults and cartwheels as it is getting plumper and the tummy tighter. This is a good time to ask about prenatal classes being offered in your area if you have not yet done so. These classes provide information about how to deal with the problems and difficulties during pregnancy. They also teach you relaxing and distressing methods to make your labor period easier to cope with. Many hospitals offer such classes and one must try to complete the course at least one month before delivery.
Your Symptoms: Fluid retention is common in pregnancy and often becomes more pronounced as you get closer to your due date, so don’t be alarmed by mild swelling of the feet and ankles.
Baby’s Development: Baby’s taste buds are developing! The barrier between the alveoli of the lungs and the blood stream is also thinning; this will allow Baby to breathe air after birth.
Baby’s Size: 27.8 cm (ear of corn), 430 g.
To Do: Start working on preparing the nursery and any other home improvement projects while you still have the energy and are still a comfortable size.
The baby is growing rapidly now and is 11 inches long with a weight of 1.25 to 1.5 pounds. The baby’s brain is developing rapidly during this period and so are the lungs and the taste buds. The main lungs are developing branches as well as special cells that produce surfactant needed to inflate the air sacs. Babies who are born prematurely have difficulty breathing as these cells have not had sufficient time to develop or produce enough surfactant.
The baby will continue gaining muscle weight. A deposit of brown fat on the skin will help the baby retain body heat. Babies born in this period might have disabilities and would require long-term intensive care as they have difficulty regulating body temperature as well as coping with their breathing due to immature development of the lungs. The baby will not be affected by the Braxton Hicks contractions that you might experience at this stage. The baby’s face is now complete with the features well developed and in the right place. The eyes remain shut.
Hair will continue to grow on the head and the eyelashes are formed. The baby is now just a thinner version of how he will look when born. The baby will start gaining more weight in the next three months. The baby starts practicing breathing by inhaling the amniotic fluid into the developing lungs.
Changes with your body
You can feel the top of your uterus around two inches from your belly as the stomach keeps expanding. The skin on the breast and abdomen continue stretching making these areas itchy and dry. A good moisturizing cream can help at this stage. Your eyes tend to become sensitive and dry but you can reduce the discomfort by using eye drops or artificial tears to keep the eyes moist. You will be more aware of the baby’s waking and sleeping patterns so you can try to get rest when your baby is resting. You can feel a tightening of your uterus or the abdomen from time to time. This sensation is called Braxton Hicks contractions. They resemble labor contractions but are not the actual thing. The contractions tend to be more noticeable at this stage because the uterus is full.
Other symptoms such as breast changes, frequent urination, constipation, indigestion, heartburn and itching continue. A few more symptoms that occur during this period including round ligament pain and hemorrhoids due to the pressure on the uterus. Round ligament pain can increase as the uterus grows bigger and the ligaments continue stretching to support the weight of the baby. If the pain is unbearable, you can consult your doctor. However, many women and first time mothers might not experience this pain at all.
Hemorrhoids appear during labor in and around the anal canal due to excessive pressure on the pelvic and rectal areas. You might feel like you have a permanent head cold because of the swelling of the mucous membranes as more blood tends to rush there, this can be reduced by using saline drops to remove the stuffiness in your nose.
What to expect
In the 24th week, most healthcare providers will ask you to undergo a glucose test to check for gestational diabetes. This is a temporary form of diabetes seen only during pregnancy. The signs and symptoms could include sugar in the urine, fatigue, nausea, frequent urination and unusual thirst. Approximately 2-5% of the expecting women develop this type of diabetes. Screening for it is done between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs because the placenta is producing a large amount of hormones that may lead to insulin resistance.
You might be still experiencing heartburn and can reduce this by eating smaller frequent meals throughout the day. Heartburn can also be reduced by avoiding snacks late at night but not by skipping snacks and meals during the day. Most women are worried about the weight gain at this stage but it is more important to focus on the fact that you are giving your baby and yourself a healthy pregnancy diet. Follow quality nutrition and let the weight do whatever it wants. Indulging in steam showers or using humidifiers can help to reduce the stuffy feeling that often trouble pregnant women. As the weight increases, try to walk, stand and sit straight because the growing uterus, heavy breasts and shifting of the center of gravity can put a strain on your back exaggerating the curve in your spine. A good posture can help in reducing the aches and pains felt later.