I can’t believe my second trimester is already over. And I have to say I truly loved this trimester. Everyone’s experience is so individual with this, but I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experience and share it with you guys.
One of the craziest things about the second trimester for me, is that it really started to feel like there was a HUMAN inside me. During the first trimester, I barely had a bump and I couldn’t feel the baby at all. So I knew something was different but it definitely didn’t feel like I was carrying around a little buddy all the time. This changed second trimester. Bump kept growing and we found out his gender at our gender reveal party at 15 weeks, which, made him seem so much more real. By about 18 weeks, I could also FEEL him. At first, when he was kicking and moving it just felt like bubbles in my stomach or little flutters. These could almost be mistaken for gas or something in my tummy but I knew they definitely weren’t. The technical term for this is “quickening” (2). By about 20-21 weeks I could feel full on kicks, which, was so amazing. I remember the look on my husband’s face the first time he got to feel a kick and it was truly magical. Our little babe stayed pretty active through out the second trimester and I continued to feel kicks, punches, rolls etc. get stronger and stronger. After about 25 weeks sometimes I could even see him moving in me if he was pressing up against my abdomen.
When I was moving, baby was usually still. When a mother is moving, it usually creates a rocking motion in the uterus that lulls the baby to sleep (1). However, if I was lying down (AKA every night when I went to bed), sitting on a plane or in client meetings, or even laying down in a workout class (he did this a few times when I was doing something like chest presses) he would wake up and let me know he was in there! I did not notice any kind of schedule or regularity with his movements other than that it was most prevalent when I was still. Some days he would definitely move more than others regardless of my movement patterns so I tried not to stress if I felt him less on any given day. From what I read, all his moving around is to strengthen his bones and muscles!
I also got to see baby in the ultrasound a few times during this trimester. Even though he already started taking the shape of a human during my first trimester ultrasounds, he was so much more developed by the second trimester anatomy scan, I had mine at 20 weeks. Our obgyn even did a 3D image of our ultrasound so we could get an idea of what his face will look like! I think he looks a lot like my husband did as a baby. Of course, the anatomy scan is for so much more than seeing the baby’s face and luckily everything has been right on track with him. Overall, baby definitely became like a part of the family during the second trimester because we thought about him and his needs more (present and future), we called him by name and we could see and feel him.
physical body changes
Although my belly grew a LOT during the second trimester, I actually felt like the rest of my body changed less than it did in the first trimester. Personally, I gained more weight in the first trimester than I did in the second. I think this is because of the increased blood volume that my body needed to carry a baby and overall just increased fluid everywhere. So the scale went up more first trimester than second and I felt like my legs/arms/face changed more then too. Second trimester those other things seemed to stabilize other than my rapidly growing belly.
I bring this up just to remind people not to get too caught up in the weight gain guidelines for pregnancy. Weight gain will not always be linear, it is not necessarily predictive of future weight gain (I know some people who will calculate what they’ve gained so far and try to extrapolate what the future weight gain will be), and finally it does not always tell much about your health or the baby’s health.
Back to my body changes: My hair continued to thicken. However, my skin and hair remained dryer than usual (this started first trimester and I have heard it is more common in boy pregnancies, but not sure if there is evidence on that. I used these pregnancy-safe products to keep everything feeling soft and hydrated: body lotion, face lotion, hair mask. My boobs did grow more (unfortunately since I really did not want to buy a second set of bras). However, I don’t think everyone’s do, according to my mom she also went from very small to very large during pregnancy so it may be somewhat genetic (sorry mom for putting this in here). I also started experiencing edema, or fluid retention, in my ankles and lower legs. Edema accounts for about 25% of the weight gain during pregnancy and about 85% of women experience some form of it (8). This was better some days than others and I tried to relate it to weather, humidity, how much I walked but I really couldn’t find a direct correlation so I think some days were just worse than others. I did buy several pairs of compression socks to help with this (putting links and descriptions below, not at all sponsored but I have gotten a few questions about this on instagram so I figured it could be useful for other). And I also bought a magnesium lotion to rub on my feet at night (which can sooth the muscles, and also promote sleep). And yes, I checked the ingredients on Environmental Working Group to make sure they are safe!
Compression sock guide:
These go all the way up to the knee and definitely work the best but are hardest to get on. I literally need my husband to help me at this point with my belly in the way. I wear them around the house or under long dresses so you can't see them.
These are similar to the above in that they are nude and have no toe so can be worn with sandals (I wear them with Birkenstocks) but they only go a little above the ankle so it kind of just pushes the swelling up but does make your feet feel better.
These are my favorite for athletic stuff. I've worn them to work out and on a hike, which, definitely helped on the hike. They're not cute (well none of them are) but they have toe coverage so are good to wear with sneaker.
I was really in love with my body and the changes it went through during the second trimester. The first trimester was a little harder since I felt like I had an awkward in between stage where I didn’t look pregnant but also didn’t look like myself. In the second trimester I was able to embrace the appearance changes that came with pregnancy. And overall I think I really practiced body love! However, there were definitely times I would see myself in a photo or mirror and think “wow I’m HUGE!” and wonder how much bigger I would get since I still had a long ways to go and a lot of baby growing to do. It was also frustrating towards the end of the second trimester when trying to do something like tie my shoe got difficult. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes I felt self conscious about my edema. But overall, I felt a new appreciation for my body and it’s ability to know how to grow a human… I mean that’s crazy! It knows where to put all the parts and organs and help them communicate to one another without me doing anything, so it is worth getting bigger.
going potty :)
This subject really shouldn’t be taboo because it’s an important part of daily life and can change a lot during pregnancy! Both number one and number two can change a good bit during pregnancy! See my experience and tips below:
Many women experience pregnancy constipation. I am now almost 30 weeks and have not had this one bit. The pregnancy constipation is said to be caused by a lot of things: increased relaxin hormone makes intestines work less hard, expanding uterus on the intestines and synthetic iron supplements (3, 4). Here are my thoughts on those: I definitely had increased relaxin as does every pregnant women, and my uterus was definitely crowding my intestines, I have such a small torso I feel like everything crowded EARLY on me, but I was not on synthetic iron supplements. My prenatal supplement does contain iron, but it is a whole foods based supplement so it is not in the synthetic form. I think this helped prevent constipation and also prevented anemia.
At my 28-week appointment, my obgyn was pretty surprised to report that I was not anemic at all since overall pregnancy anemia rates are about 25% of women but are usually higher than that in the second and third trimester (5). I also ate iron rich foods daily like dark leafy greens and grass-fed beef.
Back to constipation… what I truly think helped the most with my regularity throughout my first and second trimester (in fact, I would say I was even more regular than before!) was diet and lifestyle. I continued eating fiber rich foods daily: mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and hydrating tons. And I also stayed active, whether that was a workout or walking or both. Activity improves blood flow to the colon (6), improves motility and increases the gut’s production of a bacteria called Akkermansia, which improves overall gut health (7). Finally, I stayed on the best quality prebiotic and probiotic supplement! I had switched probiotics in my first trimester to Just Thrive (code PRESS15 to save) and stayed on it through out my second trimester and I truly think this made a huge difference. Just Thrive has external studies showing 100% survivability through the gastric environment, which, almost no other probiotic on the market has, and thus is truly EFFECTIVE.
So long story short, my pooping was great and yours can be too! Just make sure to eat plenty of fiber, hydrate like it’s your job, stay active, switch your prenatal iron supplement if it is the synthetic form and get on a good prebiotic and probiotic (this will also help your baby’s gut microbiome!) see recommendation above.
My peeing, however, was a little annoying. I think there was a combination of factors contributing to my excessive pee trips and they started at about 20 weeks, which, I think is pretty early. They weren’t unmanageable but I am definitely sick of peeing! One factor is my small torso. Like I said, everything crowded on me early, including my bladder. If you are taller or have wider hips you may not feel crowding as soon as I did but baby had nowhere to go! Another factor is that I consciously worked to maintain hydration, which, I definitely think helped prevent any constipation, but it came with a cost. I actually felt my excessive pee trips subside for a bit at the beginning of the first trimester when the uterus goes from sitting very low (on the bladder) and rises up a bit to give some bladder relief. But as soon as baby and uterus started growing significantly (18-20 weeks for me) the pee trips started coming.
Through out my whole pregnancy I have really listened to my body when it comes to eating. I truly always try to practice this but I knew it was especially important during pregnancy. Hunger is a message from our bodies (and in this case also our babies) telling us it needs fuel so there is no reason to ignore that even if you feel like you’re eating more than normal (you should be) or gaining more weight than you anticipated. As long as you are making mostly healthy choices, see my prenatal nutrition blog post here, I wouldn’t stress about it!
Anyways, my hunger has fluctuated a lot. I really never experienced a loss of appetite like some people but my extreme hunger from first trimester subsided weeks 12-16 and I felt like I was back to my usual eating amount. However, my appetite picked back up weeks 16-19 and then again stabilized for a bit. I’m not sure if these appetite shifts were due to baby’s growth spurts or what but there were definitely days and weeks I was pretty ravenous and then days that I felt like my usual self in terms of hunger.
Something that started to happen during the second half of the second trimester as the baby got bigger and my stomach began to crowd, was that I got full much more easily. I found myself eating smaller meals through out the day since large portions really felt uncomfortable. The crowding in my stomach also sometimes prevented me from noticing I was hungry and I didn’t feel hunger until I was truly starving. For the most part, I was pretty proactive about snacks so this wasn’t a huge issue but it was interesting sometimes feel completely fine and then the next moment notice my stomach was grumbling. This was because I couldn’t really feel that in between stage.
getting used to being pregnant
During the first trimester pregnancy is usually mostly “secret” so it partially doesn’t even feel real. This changes a lot during the second trimester. It was really nice to be able to share the exciting news with the world, and also random strangers started being extra nice to me. However, I also noticed that around 20 weeks random strangers would ask things like “when are you due” “boy or girl” etc. I know they meant well but you really never know if someone is pregnant or just appears pregnant because of some other condition. So I think it’s a little rude and presumptuous to ask things like this when you don’t know for sure the person is pregnant. I also think some (not many by any means) other pregnant women got comparative/competitive during this time about who looks like what and everyone’s body is going to go through this process SO differently.
These comments from strangers did make the pregnancy feel more real and like I was sharing it with the world. Sometimes, because I’m in my own body, I just feel like me and can forget about the pregnancy but all these external things definitely made it feel more real in the second trimester. Strangers and casual acquaintances also love to give advice about the pregnancy and being a parent. So that’s something I have gotten used to. In the first trimester pregnancy is so new and any changes you might make to your life feel new and temporary (changing the way you eat, drinking alcohol etc.) but by the end of the second trimester it just becomes your new normal.
One part of pregnancy that a lot of people struggle with is sleep. Again, I am lucky not to have had this problem very badly yet. However, I’ve heard that by the end of the third trimester that will definitely change. I haven’t invested in a “pregnancy” pillow yet. I just take my magnesium at night, put a pillow between my legs, put my eye mask on and I’m good to go. My body temperature is way higher during pregnancy so I’ve had to be mindful of that to ensure I can sleep. I pump the AC way up in our house or else I will lay there restlessly.
Everyone told me that second trimester is the best for energy and so far I will agree with that. I was finally able to get up a little bit earlier. However, knowing this is the last time I will be able to sleep on my schedule for about 18 years (or more), and also knowing that my body is doing a lot of behind the scenes work to grow a baby, I have given myself grace with getting up and still have allowed myself to sleep in a bit every day. Since I create my own work schedule, I have had the luxury to do this. I also don’t usually feel as exhausted at the end of the night as I did first trimester. I have been getting about 9 hours of sleep nightly, sometimes 10, and once in a while 8 and that has been leaving me feeling great and energized during the day. I have been able to travel tons (10 plane trips in 3 months), go on hikes, maintain my workout schedule, cook and have plenty of play time with Claudette! We’ll see how this energy lasts into the third trimester.
emotions and preparation
I have felt a huge sense of gratitude in the second trimester. There was a time when my husband and I did not know if we would be able to have kids of our own and every time I looked down at my belly or felt the baby kick I was reminded how special he is! There were also certain times that it was like holy *@#&$ this is happening! And we would both realize that this is the last time it will be just the three of us (Claudette counts too). It made me really want to appreciate the right NOW.
I have been slightly more emotional as well… hello hormones. For example I started balling during the first episode of Pen15 and also throughout the entire remake of Dumbo. Neither one really is so sad to elicit that amount of tears but what can I say? But overall, I don’t think I have been especially moody. If anything, I’ve been a little more chilled out and relaxed than my usual self.
During the second trimester I started thinking about preparing for baby and birth more. This is when I really started doing research about different types of births, methods, interventions etc. I started interviewing doulas (at the time I am writing this blog I still have not picked one because I liked all of the ones I interviewed), and looking into birth classes and infant CPR classes. I also started to think more about the nursery, but still have not started it. Birth preferences are such an individual decision so I encourage you to do your own research. However, these are some books that really helped me through this exploration process:
The Ina May Gaskin Guide to Childbirth - this book is really empowering for women and I think helpful to read even if you don’t want a natural childbirth. It helps women realize that their bodies are capable of so much more than they think!
Cribsheet - another book by Emily Oster (who wrote Expecting Better, which, I have referenced numerous times in my pregnancy blog posts). This is a completely data driven book about what comes after pregnancy. It starts with birth but most of the book is spent on infancy and early childhood. I really appreciated that it is unbiased and just gives you the EVIDENCE so you can make decisions for yourself.
How to Have a Natural Hospital Birth - this book is more for people who want a natural birth but are not giving birth at home. It is written by a doula and I found a lot of helpful, practical information.