The Second Trimester
Prenatal visits during the second trimester
During the second and third
trimester prenatal visits, your healthcare provider may check the following, depending
on your current health and the health of the fetus:
Any current symptoms or
Your blood pressure
Your urine with a urine test
to check for albumin, a protein that may be a sign of preeclampsia or toxemia, and
sugar, which may indicate hyperglycemia
Growth, size, and development
of the fetus
Size of your uterus (after
about 12 weeks of gestation, the uterus can be felt through the abdominal
Height of the fundus (top of
the uterus), starting at 20 weeks of gestation
What to expect during the second trimester
The second trimester marks a turning point for mother and fetus. The mother usually
begins to feel better and will start showing the pregnancy more. The fetus has now
developed all its organs and systems and will now focus on growing in size and weight.
During the second trimester, the
umbilical cord continues to thicken as it carries nourishment to the fetus. But harmful
substances also pass through the umbilical cord to the fetus. So the mother needs
stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and other known hazards.
During the second trimester, both the mother’s body and the fetus continue to grow.
Fetal development during the second trimester
Now that all the major organs and
systems have formed in the fetus, the following 6 months will be spent growing. The
weight of the fetus will multiply more than 7 times over the next few months as the
fetus becomes a baby that can survive outside of the uterus.
By the end of the second trimester,
the fetus will be about 14 inches (36 centimeters) long and weigh about 2½ pounds
kilograms). Fetal development during the second trimester includes the following:
The fetus kicks, moves, and can turn from side to side.
The eyes have been gradually moving to the front of the face and the ears have moved
from the neck to the sides of the head. The fetus can hear the mother’s voice.
A creamy white substance
(called vernix caseosa, or simply vernix) begins to appear on the fetus. It helps
to protect the thin fetal skin. Vernix is gradually absorbed by the skin. But some
may be seen on babies even after birth.
The fetus is developing reflexes, like swallowing and sucking.
The fetus can respond to certain stimuli.
The placenta is fully developed.
The brain will undergo its most important period of growth from the fifth month on.
Fingernails have grown on the tips of the fingers and toes, and the fingers and toes
are fully separated.
The fetus goes through cycles of sleep and wakefulness.
Skin is wrinkly and red, covered with soft, downy hair (called lanugo).
Hair is growing on the head of the fetus.
Fat begins to form on the fetus.
Eyelids are beginning to open and the eyebrows and eyelashes are visible.
Fingerprints and toeprints have formed.
Rapid growth is continuing in fetal size and weight.
The 20th week marks the halfway point of the pregnancy.
A fetus born at 24 weeks may
survive in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Changes in the mother’s body
The second trimester is the most physically enjoyable for most women. Morning sickness
usually lessens by this time and the extreme tiredness and breast tenderness usually
eases up. These changes can be attributed to a decrease in levels of human chorionic
gonadotropin (hCG) hormone and an adjustment to the levels of estrogen and progesterone
The following is a list of changes and symptoms that may happen during the second
Appetite may increase.
The mother may be able to feel the movement of the fetus for the first time by 20
weeks. This phenomenon is called quickening.
The uterus has grown to the height of the belly button, making the pregnancy visible.
The skin on the belly may itch as it grows and there may be pain down the sides of
the body as the uterus stretches. The lower stomach may ache as ligaments stretch
to support the uterus.
The need to urinate often may decrease as the uterus grows out of the pelvic cavity,
relieving pressure on the bladder.
A mother’s nose may become congested and she may experience nosebleeds. This is due
to the increase in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that affect the mucous membranes
in the nose.
A woman’s gums become more spongy and may bleed easily. This is due to the increase
in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that affect the mucous membranes in the mouth.
Varicose veins and hemorrhoids may appear.
A woman may have a white-colored vaginal discharge called leukorrhea. (A colored or
bloody discharge may signal possible complications and should be examined immediately.)
The increasing weight gain may cause backaches.
Skin pigmentation may change on the face or belly due to the pregnancy hormones.
Heartburn, indigestion, and
constipation may continue.