The Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Pregnancies are split into three stages, each lasts about 3 months and is referred to as a trimester. Each trimester involves a particular set of developments and changes for both mother and child to be. This article should hopefully give you some of the information you might be looking for regarding the second trimester, which begins about 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

What is the second trimester?

As mentioned briefly in the introduction to this article, the second trimester is the second three-month period of a pregnancy, from approximately the 13th week until the 28th. The second trimester is, in a sense, more relaxed than the first and second trimesters as some of the symptoms and dangers from the first trimester will have abated, and the much quicker increase in the size and weight of the foetus typical of the third trimester has yet to begin.

What happens to my body during the second trimester?

The huge increase in hormone levels that begins the first trimester will have had their effects on your body, and you are likely to feel more energised during the second trimester. The morning sickness of the first trimester does not usually carry on to the second trimester, which is a major relief to most pregnant women! With the loss of morning sickness appetite returns, and it is during the second trimester that you might start putting on weight, and where you are also likely to experience cravings for odd foods (although this can often take place in the first trimester as well).

What happens to the foetus during the second trimester?

By the beginning of the second trimester the foetus has already developed features like a face, limbs, nervous system, and circulatory system, however these systems have not finished developing, and will continue to do so throughout the second trimester. While foetal movement does begin in the first trimester, it can’t be felt until the second trimester, where it is experienced as what is called the ‘quickening’. This movement is usually experienced at some point between the 19th and 21st week of pregnancy, however if you haven’t felt movement at this point you shouldn’t be overly concerned as it is not uncommon for women to feel the first quickening later than that.

The placenta, a structure which links foetus and mother by means of blood vessels that provide the developing foetus with much needed nourishment and drain it of waste products, is fully functional in the second trimester.  What this means is that the foetus can now urinate on its own (with the urine coming out through the placenta), and that organs like the kidneys are now functioning on their own.

Other points about the second trimester

For many parents to be the second trimester is a good chance to take a breather as the point when unborn offspring are most vulnerable is the first trimester. Once into the second trimester the pregnancy is comfortably underway, and as the unpleasantness of morning sickness has passed by this point, the mother to be will definitely be feeling better about it!

During this stage it is still important to avoid drugs and smoking, and maintain healthy nutrition and a comfortable level of exercise. Your antenatal care providers (the obstetrician and midwife) will undoubtedly give you lots of information about what should and shouldn’t be in your diet.

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