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A woman holds an ultrasound image of a fetus over her pregnant belly.

Enjoying the Second Trimester

The second trimester of pregnancy is perhaps the best part. Morning sickness is usually gone, you’re finally starting to show, and your baby is big enough to test for issues and the ever-exciting gender reveal. But one of the things you’ll discover during pregnancy is that no matter how far along you are, there’s always something new happening and you’re still full of questions. 

Your Body

Some of the less enjoyable “symptoms” of pregnancy fade into the background during the second trimester. You’re likely to feel a sudden burst of nesting that comes with a boost of vigor; this is a good time to take advantage of that—you may not feel that way again until the last few weeks of your journey. 

Farther into the fifth month you really begin to notice your swelling belly. Strange cravings may begin to infiltrate your diet, and your breasts may begin to grow larger or even leak as your body prepares for lactation. One of the more exciting aspects of the second trimester is the mid-pregnancy ultrasound because the baby’s genitals have developed sufficiently enough for your obstetrician to see whether the nursery should be pink or blue. 

Beyond gender, this ultrasound also measures baby’s length to check for appropriate growth and can give a clear view of the developmental proceedings for major organs. If there is family history of genetic issues (such as Down’s syndrome) or you are an older mom your doctor may recommend more extensive testing. These tests are available to any concerned mom, but insurance may not cover them if your doctor does not point to a tangible reason for an amniocentesis or Multiple Marker Screening test (MMS). 

Your Baby

At the beginning of the second trimester, your baby will only be about 3 ½ inches long and less than 2 ounces. By the end, your baby will be about 9 inches long and weigh as much as 2 pounds. That’s a lot of growing to do!In the fourth month your baby’s will be able to make urine and discharge it into the amniotic fluid. He’s started developing his own red blood cells, and his bones and hair pattern are forming. By the end of the fourth month, you’ll be able to see him moving on an ultrasound. He’ll be about 4 ½ inches long by week 16. 

During the fifth month, your baby becomes increasingly more active. She will also develop toenails and, as her ears develop, she might even be able to hear things! Her uterus and vagina will form this month, as will the vernix caseosa, the thick white covering that protects her skin. She can make sucking and swallowing motions, and by the end, she’ll be just over 6 inches long. 

By the sixth month of your pregnancy, your baby will have a covering of dark hair all of his body—as well as the beginnings of the real hair on his head. He will develop his individual finger and footprints, tastebuds, and fingernails. As the third trimester begins, baby will weigh about 2 pounds and be ¾ of a foot long—about the size of a pineapple (without the leafy top). 

Your Concerns

While the growth of both baby and your abdomen can be exciting (you finally get to show off your creation!), it may start to wear on you. It’s important to continue a gentle exercise routine to keep your body healthy, which will in turn keep baby healthier. Warm baths or a gentle massage from your partner can be a great way to be intimate while you’re getting used to the changes in your body. However, many women find that the second trimester returns their sex life with impunity—and that’s okay! Your baby is protected, but it is still important to protect yourself if you and your partner aren’t monogamous. 

Some women experience issues with signs of gingivitis during pregnancy. If you notice that your gums are bleeding during the second trimester, this isn’t uncommon. Be gentle on your teeth, but don’t give up your normal good oral hygiene habits. Diabetes during pregnancy is an issue for some new moms; your obstetrician should perform a glucose test to make sure your body is processing sugar correctly. If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to follow your doctor’s directions in this regard, particularly regarding your diet.

 If you notice anything out of the ordinary—even if it’s likely attributed to your pregnancy—talk to your obstetrician or midwife about it. If you notice bleeding, abdominal cramping or pain, other signs of a miscarriage, or extreme dizziness, or call your doctor immediately. If you can’t get ahold of your doctor, you may need to visit the emergency room.