What Happens in the Second Trimester?

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Published On
17 Jul, 2023
Read Time
5 minutes

The second trimester of pregnancy is a really important time for a baby's development, and for many pregnant people, it's when the sickness and nausea they experienced during the first three months start to settle.

If you're pregnant, understanding the changes that are happening at every stage can be helpful. So, let's run through how long the second trimester lasts, answer some frequently asked questions, and talk about the common second-trimester symptoms that pregnant people encounter, from stretch marks to baby's first kicks!

How many weeks does the second trimester of pregnancy last for?

The 13th week of pregnancy marks the start of the second trimester. This trimester lasts for 15 weeks  and finishes at the end of the 27th week.

When does the second trimester come to an end?

The second trimester finishes at the end of the 27th week of pregnancy. From this point, you move into the third trimester which continues until birth.

Second-trimester symptoms and changes to your body

Let's go through some of the common symptoms that pregnant people encounter during this important stage of pregnancy.

  • Colostrum: In the first few weeks of the second trimester, your boobs may start to produce colostrum or first milk that's thick and yellow.
  • Feeling hotter: Hormonal changes can make you feel warmer than usual - no matter the season! Keeping the room you're in cool and wearing loose clothes can help.
  • Feeling more energised: As morning sickness symptoms (hopefully) begin to subside, you may find that you have more energy - great news! Now you can really start getting ready for your baby's arrival but remember not to overdo it and make plenty of time to chill too.
  • Haemorrhoids or piles: These can be uncomfortable and often get worse as pregnancy progresses. Asking your doctor about your treatment options early can help keep them under control.
  • Heartburn: Indigestion in pregnancy is usually caused by hormonal changes - an increase in progesterone - and the growing baby pressing on your stomach. Although it can be uncomfortable, lifestyle changes and medicines that are safe to take when pregnant can help.
  • Larger boobs: Growing milk glands and deposits of fat mean that your boobs may continue to get bigger in preparation for breastfeeding.
  • Leg cramps: Lower leg cramps can happen at nighttime. You may find that stretching before bed and doing regular light exercise will help.
  • Pain in your back, pelvis, and hips: During pregnancy, your hormones relax your ligaments to help your bones move in preparation for birth. As your baby grows and your body adapts, your back, hips and pelvis may begin to ache, and you might experience round ligament pain.
  • Sensitive or bleeding gums: Also known as gingivitis, your gums may become bright red and bleed easily. If this does happen, it's best to seek support from your dentist.
  • Skin changes: Your nipples may become darker, and you might develop a line that runs from your pubic area up to your belly button (called the linea nigra).
  • Stretch marks: It's common for stretch marks (also known as striae distensae) to appear on the stomach and breasts during pregnancy. These are caused when areas of skin become stretched tight.
  • Thicker hair: You'll start to see your hair get thicker and glossier throughout the second trimester.

Second-trimester pregnancy: changes week by week

Your baby bump will grow steadily during the second trimester and you'll start to feel your baby moving between weeks 16 to 20. This may feel like flutters, twitches, or tumbles. 

Your baby's growth throughout the second trimester

By week 14 of pregnancy, a baby's ears and eyes are fully formed, and they can hear voices and other sounds outside of the womb.

Around week 16, they'll start to develop the ability to taste and swallow amniotic fluid. By the time week 20 comes around, they can now move around freely in the amniotic fluid and may even start to kick and punch. Their organs will be fully developed by week 28.

Good signs to watch out for in the second trimester

Throughout your pregnancy, it's totally normal to wonder if everything is going as it should be. You should always raise any concerns with your healthcare provider and don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have.

The following signs can help give you peace of mind that your pregnancy is going well.

  • Increasing energy levels: Many people find that they have more energy during the second trimester as their bodies adjust to the changes of pregnancy.
  • Visible baby bump: This is an exciting milestone for many expectant parents. As your baby grows, your belly will start to show. Don't forget to snap some pics to track the progress of your pregnancy!
  • Decreasing nausea: While some people still experience nausea in the second trimester, it typically subsides as the pregnancy progresses.
  • Foetal movement: Around 16 to 20 weeks, you may start to feel your baby's movements, which is a sign that they're growing and developing as expected.
  • Stable vital signs: Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood pressure, weight, and other vital signs at each prenatal appointment. If these are stable, it's a good sign that your pregnancy is progressing as it should.

Danger signs of pregnancy in your second trimester

During the second trimester, you must be aware of certain warning signs, including:

  • Blurred vision: Pregnancy can sometimes cause slight changes in your vision and your prescription may need to be adjusted slightly if you usually wear glasses. However, developing blurring of your vision that you didn't experience before you became pregnant should always be treated seriously and you should always seek medical advice because it may be a sign of a condition known as pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms of pre-eclampsia include easy bruising, a headache that doesn't go away, and severe pain on your right side or in your stomach.
  • Fever: A fever or high temperature above 37.5°C during pregnancy could harm you and your baby and needs immediate medical attention.
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding: You should always speak to your doctor if you experience heavy bleeding from your vagina during pregnancy.
  • Mental health struggles: Don't hesitate to seek support if you're pregnant and feeling depressed, anxious or like you can't complete your usual, everyday tasks - especially if these feelings last for two weeks or longer.
  • Severe abdominal pain: If you're pregnant and concerned about stomach pains, it's best to speak to your doctor or midwife for reassurance.
  • Swelling in your ankles, face, or hands: Sudden swelling in these areas can be a sign of pre-eclampsia and require medical attention.

You should act fast and seek medical support if you do feel worried about anything you experience at any stage of your pregnancy.

Ways to stay feeling healthy and content in the 2nd trimester

  1. Stay active: Regular light exercise can help improve your mood, energy levels, and overall health. Talk to your healthcare provider about safe exercise options during pregnancy, such as prenatal yoga or walking.
  2. Eat a balanced diet: Focus on eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It's also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  3. Get enough rest: Your body is working hard to grow your baby, so it's important to prioritise rest and sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night and take breaks throughout the day to relax and recharge.
  4. Manage stress: Pregnancy can be a stressful time, but finding ways to manage stress is crucial for your well-being. Consider practising relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal massage.
  5. Stay up-to-date on prenatal care: Regular prenatal check-ups can help ensure the health and safety of both you and your baby. Be sure to attend all scheduled appointments and communicate any concerns or questions with your healthcare provider.

What foods and activities should be skipped in the second trimester?

The following things should be avoided during the second trimester to prioritise the health and safety of both you and your baby:

  • Activities that could injure your abdomen: Like contact sports or vigorous exercise.
  • Caffeine: Limit caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day.
  • Certain foods: Raw or undercooked meats, fish high in mercury, and unpasteurised dairy products shouldn't be eaten during pregnancy.
  • Drinking alcohol and taking illicit drugs: Using illegal or street drugs and drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby.
  • Smoking: Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for the health of your baby. If you're struggling to quit, your midwife or GP can offer you support.
  • Cleaning out cat litter:Cat litter can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis which can be dangerous for your unborn child, so it's best to avoid handling it.

The second trimester of pregnancy lasts for 15 weeks or three months.

We asked our Instagram followers what the second trimester felt like for them, and here's what they told us:

  • "Tiring, exciting, telling people, buying lots."
  • "Getting your energy back and being able to share pregnancy news makes it exciting."
  • "Great - cute little bump and sickness is gone."
  • "Tired all the time."
  • "The best trimester, good energy, glowing."
  • "Icky, sick and hormonal."
  • "A dream."
  • "Baby kicks, gender reveals and growing bump."
  • "Hip pain, reflux and heartburn."
  • "Hormones have settles and feeling excitement after first scans."
  • "Full of energy."
  • "Like back to normal with a growing belly."
  • "Wonderful but slightly strange at times."
  • "Amazing! Bursts of energy, the nesting, the excitement, the bump."
  • "Symptoms start to disappear, get more energy."
  • "Out of my body, feeling movements."
  • "I had more energy and tummy bubbles."
  • "Checking the mirror all the time waiting for the bump to appear."
  • "The secret is out, much more energy."
  • "Lovely! So nice to feel baby moving but still feel mobile and able to sleep."
  • "Wanting to socialise more."