Originally written during my first pregnancy in 2018, with updates from my second pregnancy in 2020.
There’s such a sweet feeling of relief when you’re officially in the second trimester. You get past the stage where you’re afraid to tell people about the miracle being produced by your own body because what if? You look forward to those first-trimester symptoms lessening, you’re looking at the changes being made in your body with complete awe, you’re checking out your profile in the bathroom mirror trying to decide if that looks more “baby bump” or “all-you-can-eat-buffet aftermath.” But of course, it’s not all roses – here’s the list of what I wish people had told me about the second trimester.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This does not constitute medical advice. It’s just a summary of my own experience.
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It’s not a cure all
If you suffered from nausea in the first trimester, you start to feel better in the second trimester, sometimes. There are no guarantees. Nausea is caused in part by the hormones that help establish the pregnancy, and those subside somewhat once the placenta has established and the yolk sac has disappeared. Personally, I had to wait until I was eighteen weeks in before I started feeling better, and that was mostly due to the next fact.
2020 update: I actually felt a lot better the second time around, and I attribute that to things like taking magnesium daily. At least – I felt better until the acid reflux really kicked in.
Your medication choices dramatically increase
There’s still a lot of stuff it’s not safe to take during pregnancy (sorry for all the ibuprofen fans out there!), but once I hit the second trimester I was able to start taking Prilosec for my nausea and acid reflux – and hallelujah, it was like a miracle! Throughout the rest of my pregnancy if I skipped even one dose, I would be miserable, so this was basically a requirement for me the entire time. Memories of my horribly sick first trimester were already fading by my third trimester, which I’m assuming is the reason why anyone ever goes through this experience more than once.
2020 update: This time, I’ve learned that Prilosec and other drugs classed as proton pump inhibitors actually cause your magnesium levels to be lower. Since magnesium helps your blood pressure, and I’m trying to keep mine on the low side, I’ve opted to skip Prilosec this time and just suffer through the pregnancy with some acid reflux and the occasional handful of Tums. If you choose to take anything on an ongoing basis, please consult with your doctor.
You get to see your baby! (the good stuff)
Okay, so I knew this one, but I didn’t realize how fascinating/utterly nerve-wracking it is to get an ultrasound. It’s such a great experience when you realize this little thing inside you – this thing that has been making all the physical changes happen, and you’ve heard the heartbeat of – it has a face. Getting to see a good profile shot is just an instant heart-eyes-emoji moment. Seeing anything recognizable makes your heart flutter just a bit – when we did a gender ultrasound my daughter gave us a perfect view of her hand. That little, tiny, perfect hand was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen.
2020 update: no changes. Still amazing.
You get to see your baby! (the bad stuff)
Even if you have no reason to think otherwise – when they do an anatomy ultrasound, there’s part of you that’s holding your breath as each new body part is revealed. You want your baby to be perfect. You may have zero experience with looking at ultrasounds but you’re staring at the screen trying to see if there are four chambers to the heart, two legs, two arms, one head. The tech said that spot on the screen was the bladder – good, your child has a bladder. My daughter was twisting and refused to show part of her spine and heart, so I got to schedule another ultrasound for a few weeks out so they could verify everything was okay – which meant that even though I was pretty sure everything was okay, I got to spend a few weeks thinking about what if it wasn’t…
2020 update: also no changes, but my second daughter was a slight bit more cooperative than her big sister – and we got to find out she was a girl, after we thought for eleven weeks we were having a boy!
You can find out what it is!
My husband and I opted to do a gender reveal ultrasound at sixteen weeks, and it was well worth it in my opinion, because I was going nuts. I wanted a girl. I knew I’d love a boy too, but my family has enough boys already! I was lucky that I got what I wanted, because I would have been dealing with some serious gender disappointment otherwise. If this happens to you – know that it’s okay. Gender disappointment is a real thing, and while it’s something that can be overcome with time, don’t be afraid to admit to a non-judgmental friend or relative that this isn’t what you wanted. In all likelihood, by the time the baby gets here you’ll be just fine with it.
2020 update: yes, went through this on accident this time! While we ultimately found out we were having a girl, as I mentioned above – we spent eleven weeks thinking it was a boy! I detailed my gender disappointment experience here.
Oh hello, ligaments
Somewhere between the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second, your ligaments start to stretch. This is caused by a flood of a hormone called relaxin (you know someone giggled when they named that) which basically does as advertised – it relaxes your muscles and ligaments. This helps your pelvis expand to better support the growing uterus, and eventually provide a little extra room for the baby to make its way out, but in the meantime, it feels like your pelvis is falling apart. That will continue to some extent for the rest of your pregnancy.
2020 update: yep, and I think it’s a little worse the second time around. Of course, this time, I’m an active mom to a toddler, not sitting around at a job where I’m in a seat all day.
Get your kicks
At some point, you’ll start feeling the first faint flutters of kicks. The timing of this can vary pretty wildly though, so don’t be upset if it takes a while. I had an anterior placenta, meaning my placenta was at the front of my uterus, and it essentially muffled any ability to feel my daughter’s kicks. I felt a couple between about sixteen and eighteen weeks, but only if I was lying on my side – I think it was just a combination of gravity pulling her so she was past the placenta, and her being in the right spot. It wasn’t until I was twenty-one weeks I started consistently feeling her kicks. It quickly got to the point where I had no trouble feeling kicks – I joked that I always knew when she was awake because she was constantly moving.
2020 update: no anterior placenta this time, and I started feeling kicks pretty consistently at seventeen weeks. Just a reminder though – everyone is different. You may have a similar experience or something entirely different! There is a huge range of normal!
Take advantage of feeling good
There’s a lot out there about how this is the time you’ll feel the best in your pregnancy – and it’s true! Enjoy these weeks where you (hopefully) aren’t sick anymore, and you still have some energy. If you need to do any painting or if your nesting urges are telling you to deep clean, this is the time. Because if you put it off, it becomes much more difficult to haul yourself around and find the motivation to do anything. Ask me how I know!
2020 update: I started nesting around 20 weeks, which in my case looked like decluttering my house. It was awesome, actually. I really enjoyed feeling like I had more energy than the first trimester but still being able to bend over most of the time.
What to start getting done
At this point, you’ll want to get your baby registry done, and if you need to paint any rooms or assemble any furniture, this is a great time to do it. You’ll probably start looking into registering for classes from your local hospital system. Towards the end of your second trimester, if you’re planning on getting a breast pump through your insurance, you’ll need to get that process started (it usually involves getting a prescription from your doctor). This is a busy time when it comes to your pregnancy but take advantage of it because (a) you won’t have the energy further along and (b) you’ll have plenty of time to play catch up if you’re a chronic procrastinator like
me someone I know.
2020 update: having been through this before, I have a much more lax attitude about it this time. This basically all holds up though – get some of the bigger stuff knocked out while you can still move.
Honestly, the second trimester is truly the best part of pregnancy. Enjoy it. It’s only thirteen weeks!
2020 update: still pretty true, but this time, I’ve gotten to go into my third trimester feeling much better physically and more confident about what I’m doing – so I’m really looking forward to getting to the end and holding my baby!
If you’ve been pregnant, do you have anything to add about the second trimester?