Second Trimester Of Pregnancy: Expectations And Things To Consider

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Expecting a baby is a wonderful time in the life of any woman, especially when toxicosis is already a thing of the past, the body has adapted to all the anatomical changes, and she can watch her baby grow bigger and stronger. The second trimester of pregnancy is considered to be relatively safer since the key processes in the woman's body have been completed. This means that the risk of a birth defect is left behind, and the baby is under the reliable protection of a fully functioning placenta and a sufficient amount of amniotic fluid.

Active development

Significant improvement in the state of the mother opens up new opportunities for her. She can lead a fairly active lifestyle, communicate with friends, travel, and even do sports for pregnant women even if training was not part of her daily routine before pregnancy. Let's discuss what happens to a mother and her future child in the second trimester of pregnancy and how to make this period really enjoyable.

Week 13

The fetus gradually resembles a newborn baby. Its parietal size, which can be identified with the help of an ultrasound examination, already reaches 6-8 cm, and its weight is 15-16 g. The arms and legs of the baby gradually become longer, while the size of its head decreases in proportion to its body. You can already observe hairs on the head and the outline of its chin and cheeks on the face of the fetus. In this period, the baby actively moves, grimaces, and puts its fingers in its mouth, where the rudiments of 20 teeth are already formed. Girls' ovaries move to the pelvic area, and boys develop a prostate gland.

In this period, the future mother experiences the following changes:

-the glandular tissue in the breasts grows, and the number of ducts increases;
-there is an increase in the volume of blood circulating;
-the body gradually adapts to the increasing needs of the baby, but this does not cause any significant discomfort.

As a rule, the woman has undergone all the key examinations at this stage. If the future mother's condition is stable and gives no reason for worries, she can continue to lead her usual life and take care of her health.

Week 14

Perhaps any woman is especially enthusiastic about this period of pregnancy. At this stage of pregnancy, it is possible to find out the sex of the baby. The baby becomes more independent, and thanks to the full functioning of the thyroid and pancreas, the mother can stop taking supplementary iodine and folic acid. It is possible to obtain sufficient quantities of the latter from food products.

In the 14th week of pregnancy, the baby's nervous system is fully formed. It actively reacts to music sounds, touches, and even light sources. If you direct the beam of a flashlight to the belly of a pregnant woman, the baby will start to actively move.

Meanwhile, the mother feels quite well. There is an increase in the size of her breasts, belly, and body mass.

Week 15

The fetus, who has reached a height of 16 cm and a weight of 50-75 g, can already perceive information through the ears and can capture intonations. Therefore, everything it hears (music, the parents' voices) should be filled with positivity.

The body of the fetus undergoes the following changes:

-the cortex of the brain begins to function;
-the bone tissue becomes firmer;
-the liver produces bile and performs the functions of a digestive organ;
-during the day, the heart pumps up to 23 liters of blood and beats at a frequency of 140-160 beats per minute, which will persist until the baby's birth;
-the skin is still very thin, and vessels are clearly visible under it;
-testosterone is synthesized in boys.

The increase in the size of the uterus can cause compression of the nerves, and a woman may feel:

-pain in coccyx or inguinal region;
-heaviness in the abdomen.

A stuffy nose is another form of discomfort that future mothers encounter at this stage of pregnancy.

Week 16

The coccyx-parietal size of the fetus is already 12 cm, and its weight is about 110 g. The body of the baby is already more proportionate. Almost all the internal organs have been formed. The facial muscles have developed so much that the baby can already smile. Moreover, it can now hold its head more confidently. In the 16th week of pregnancy, the fetus's eyes become closer to each other. It is possible to observe a light coating on the skin of the fetus. According to experts, this coating helps control heat exchange processes. Girls have fully formed the uterus and fallopian tubes, and boys now have testicles, but they are still in the abdominal cavity. Bone marrow ensures normal blood composition in the body of the baby.

At this stage of pregnancy, the future mother's belly is so big that she needs new clothes. Besides, she has to choose a more comfortable sleep position. There is a significant improvement in the pregnant woman's hair, nails, and skin, although it is possible that new pigmented spots or moles will appear on the skin. The breasts keep growing in size but the woman no longer has painful sensations that previously accompanied the process of pregnancy.

Week 17

During this period, the baby becomes heavier than the placenta. Its body weight already reaches 115-160 g, and the height is 18-20 cm. The entire body of the fetus is covered with a dense coating that is supposed to disappear before the birth of the baby or shortly after. Fat tissue that protects the future child from hypothermia is formed in the area of the scapula under the skin, as well as around the kidneys and the liver.

At this stage of pregnancy, the baby's hearing improves too. It can already distinguish voices. However, future mothers should protect their babies from sharp and loud sounds. The heartbeat can be clearly heard through a stethoscope, which is a key indicator of the fetal condition. In this period, pregnant women generally undergo screening for chromosomal abnormalities. If no abnormalities are found, there is no need for additional examinations.

This period is characterized by the following changes in the body of the pregnant woman:

-the body mass increases, and it is necessary to ensure that puffiness does not lead to weight gain;
-due to the increasing size of the uterus (the height of its bottom is about 15-18 cm), the stomach acquires an elongated shape.

Week 18

In this period, the baby weighs about 200 g, and its height is about 20 cm. Movement supported by the development of muscles and interaction of the brain neurons becomes smooth and coordinated. The phalanges on the baby's fingers are clearly identified. During an ultrasound examination, the pregnant woman can clearly watch the baby ''swimming'', repelling from the walls of the uterus, and even putting its fingers into its mouth. The development of the retina of the eyes allows the baby to distinguish between light and shadow. The formation of the genital organs is finally completed. At this stage, the baby actively swallows amniotic fluid. Some experts believe that it is for this reason that it hiccups.

Many pregnant women report worsening of their vision in this period, which, most probably, will recover after childbirth. However, if you have this problem, you'd better consult a competent specialist. Along with the growing tummy and body mass, there is an increase in the load on the spine and veins. This means you should lead an active lifestyle, have enough rest, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Swimming, fitness, yoga, and dancing are excellent forms of physical activity during pregnancy. The future mother should pay due attention to the indices of blood pressure and constantly check for the appearance of edema.

Week 19

With a height of 22-25 cm, the baby weighs 250 g. The entire body of the baby is covered with a protective coating. Meanwhile, the process of accumulating fat tissue continues. In addition to performing a thermoregulatory function, the fat tissue ensures normal energy exchange after the birth of the baby. After all, the baby enters into a completely different environment and needs additional protection. Although all the organ systems already work, they are not yet able to ensure the viability of the fetus.

A third uterine-placental cycle of blood circulation is formed in the body of the pregnant woman, which is explained by the completion of the process of introducing this auxiliary organ into the walls of the uterus.

At this stage of pregnancy, the future mother's body undergoes the following changes:

-it is almost impossible to sleep on the back or the stomach. Due to this problem, many women have to use a special pillow;
-there is a change in gait in view of the fact that the enlarged uterus exerts pressure on the spine and iliac regions, and promotes the displacement of the gravity center;
-the pigmentation of the skin intensifies, and stretch marks on the skin may cause itching.

It is mandatory to monitor changes in blood pressure, weight, as well as the color and amount of vaginal secretions. It is necessary to submit a urine test every two weeks. At this time, another ultrasound is generally prescribed. There may be a need for a screening as well.

Week 20

With a height of 25-27 cm, the fetus weighs about 270 g and is more like a newborn baby. The body of the fetus is covered with wrinkled but rather dense skin. There are already tiny nails on its fingers. The ears and the nose are more clearly outlined. At the same time, the baby's eyes are slightly opened, and it has become more active. In the 20th week of pregnancy, the baby already distinguishes the time of day. The mother can already feel whether her baby is sleeping or playing. The baby's immune system is developed enough to allow it to fight some infections on its own.

Meanwhile, the mom's tummy keeps growing. In some cases, there may be an increase in the size of the future mother's feet. At this stage, the attending doctor usually conducts a screening ultrasound, an analysis of the fetal gestational size, which allows for the identification of any pathologies. In this period of pregnancy, blood and urine tests are also conducted.

Week 21

In the 21st week of pregnancy, the baby is almost completely formed. It weighs about 300 g and has a height of 25 cm. It has already developed modes of sleep and wakefulness. It can distinguish voices, is frightened by sharp sounds, and tastes what the mother consumes. Therefore, the pregnant woman needs to be extremely careful with what she eats. She should avoid overeating and consuming fatty or unhealthy products since this can lead to excessive accumulation of fat tissue in the child's body and eventually lead to obesity or metabolic disorders. At the same time, gestational diabetes may develop in the mother's body. At this stage too, it is still necessary to monitor the arterial pressure, weight, and swelling. The attending doctor can prescribe an ultrasound, as well as blood and urine tests if these examinations were not prescribed in the 19th or 20th weeks of pregnancy.

Week 22

At this stage of pregnancy, it is possible to weigh and carefully examine all parts of the fetal body. With a height of 28 cm, the fetus already weighs 430-500 g. The formation of the brain and spine are completed, and the fat tissue is evenly distributed under the skin so the baby does not look as skinny as before. The baby can tilt its head and straighten the cervix. Besides, it repels from the walls of the uterus more confidently.

The mother's condition is generally quite stable at this stage, and there is no need for a compulsory visit to a doctor: The symptoms of this stage include:

-pain in the lower abdomen or in the lumbar region;
-unusual vaginal discharge;
-increased swelling;
-blood pressure swings.

In the 22nd week of pregnancy, women are recommended to exercise moderately, to walk in fresh air, keep a balanced diet, and get enough rest.

Transition to the phase of vitality

At this stage, the baby is already quite viable. Experienced doctors can save the life of an early-term baby.

Week 23

In the 23rd week of pregnancy, the amount of amniotic fluid no longer increases. The baby, with a weight of 530-600 g and a height of 29-31 cm, actively moves although its head is still at the top. It can now freely ''swim'', but soon there won't be enough space for the fetus. Its eyes are open, the body proportions are becoming normal, and the process of the accumulation of fat tissue continues. Meanwhile, the baby is able to swallow, suck, perform respiratory movements, and its digestive tract and urinary system can fully function. The surfactant necessary for breathing is produced in the lungs, which keeps the alveoli from collapsing.

At this stage, a pregnant woman may encounter the following symptoms:

-tingling in the limbs;
-short-lasting pain in the lower abdomen;

At this stage, the attending doctor may prescribe general and biochemical blood tests.

Week 24

The baby looks plumper due to the fat tissue. It has a weight of 600-650 g and a height of 30-32 cm. All the senses are fully developed. Eyelashes and eyebrows are clearly visible on the face of the baby. At the same time, the blood circulatory system is developing at full speed. The baby's body produces oxytocin and vasopressin, important hormones for the mother's body. The baby's digestive system is fully functioning, which is related to the fact that it is actively swallowing amniotic fluid. The baby's waste products accumulate in its intestine, the contents of which are released after childbirth.

Meanwhile, the future mother feels discomfort which is caused by pressure from the uterus on her spine and joints. Her body produces hormones that reduce sensitivity to pain. To facilitate the mother's condition, doctors recommend that she wear a special bandage, has a lot of rest, do special exercises, and eat moderately, so as not to gain excessive weight and minimize the risk of edema.

Generally, there is no need for an ultrasound examination or a blood test in the 24th week of pregnancy. During each physical examination, the attending doctor listens to the baby's heartbeat and carefully examines its motor activity.

Week 25

At this stage of pregnancy, the baby's body is preparing for birth. The work of the internal organs stabilizes, characteristic folds appear on the fetal body, the skin acquires the necessary density and pink tint. Boys' testicles gradually move into the scrotum. With a height of 33-34 cm, the baby weighs about 700 g.

The overall condition of the future mom becomes more uncomfortable. She may encounter the following symptoms:

-shortness of breath;
-cramps in the legs;
-pain in the lower back.

In this period, pregnant women had better give preference to comfortable clothes and shoes, relaxing sports (for example, swimming), and food products rich in potassium and calcium (for example, dried fruits, cottage cheese, kefir, low-fat cheeses, baked potatoes).

Visits to an obstetrician-gynecologist should become more frequent - every two weeks. This is necessary for monitoring the conditions of the mother and the fetus. At this stage, the attending doctor is supposed to check the height of the uterine fundus, the abdominal circumference, weight, and the presence of edema. Besides, they will listen to the baby's heartbeat and prescribe blood and urine tests and other examinations if necessary.

Week 26

Finally, the second trimester of pregnancy comes to an end. With a height of 34-36 cm and a weight of 800-1,000 g, the baby is already adapting to the rhythm of its mother's heartbeat and enters the phase of active growth. Although it can freely move inside the mom's tummy, its head is mostly directed downwards. The vision of the fetus is not fully developed yet - it can only distinguish light and darkness. The cartilage in the ears and the nose area is very soft, and the nails are not large enough to cover the nail beds. At this stage, the baby's movements can be felt not only by the mother but also by other people.

Meanwhile, the future mother's body is also preparing for childbirth. The veins under the skin of the mother's breasts become more visible. The breasts periodically discharge colostrum, which should be carefully cleaned with a soft napkin. At this stage, the uterus has practically filled the abdominal cavity and exerts pressure on other organs. The problems of constipation, heartburn, and dyspnea are still relevant. The condition of the hair, nails, and teeth may deteriorate, and stretch marks and pigment spots may appear on the skin of a pregnant woman.

At this point, the main task of the baby is to grow and develop. After all, it is going to appear into the world very soon! Its body is almost fully formed. Its skills will improve significantly during the next few months. The remaining weeks will strengthen the emotional attachment between the mother and the baby.

Source:obstetrician-gynecologist Lilit Nasibyan

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not treat yourself, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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