During the second trimester, you will probably find that many of the side effects of the first trimester have begun to disappear and you should begin to experience a general feeling of contentment and well-being. You will have blood tests, such as the glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes, screening tests or amniocentesis to check for Down syndrome as well as other chromosomal abnormalities, genetic disorders and neural tube defects. You will also be able to see your baby in an ultrasound!
The following changes will happen during the second trimester. Also given are the precautions to be taken during the second trimester:
- Digestion: your digestive system is slowing the rate at which it moves food through your body. This and the increasing size of your uterus pushing on your stomach can cause heartburn, bloating and indigestion. The slower rate of your digestive system can also result in constipation. Try to eat smaller meals more often, rather than three larger meals a day. Avoid greasy, spicy and acidic foods. For constipation, get more fiber and drink extra fluids to keep things moving more smoothly. Physical activity will also help move things along.
- Pigmentation: You may notice the linea negra, a dark line down the centre of your abdomen, begins to appear. You may also notice thin, reddish-purple lines on your abdomen, breasts and thighs. Using a moisturizer can help soften your skin and reduce itchiness and stretch marks.
- Nipples: Your nipples will become darker in colour and may begin to secrete colostrum. Going up a bra size and wearing a good support bra can make you feel more comfortable.
- Baby movements: Around week 20 you will probably have started to feel the delicate flutters of movement in your abdomen, also called “quickening”.
- Breathing: You will notice a change in your breathing to deeper breaths and you may experience shortness of breath.
- Backache: The extra weight you have gained in the last few months is starting to put pressure on your back, making it achy and sore. To ease the pressure, sit up straight and use a chair that provides good back support. Avoid picking up or carrying anything heavy. Wear low-heeled, comfortable shoes with good arch support.
- Bleeding gums: Many women develop swollen, tender gums. Hormone changes send more blood to your gums, making them more sensitive and causing them to bleed.
- Congestion and nosebleeds: Hormonal changes cause the mucous membranes lining your nose to swell, which can lead to stuffy nose and make you snore at night. These changes may also make your nose bleed more easily. Before using a decongestant, check with your doctor. Saline drops and other home remedies may be safer ways to clear congestion during pregnancy.
- Discharge: It is normal to see a thin, milky white vaginal discharge, called leucorrhoea, early in your pregnancy. You can wear a panty liner if it makes you comfortable. If the discharge is foul-smelling, green, yellow or bloody, or if there is a lot of clear discharge, call your doctor.
- Headaches: Is one of the most common pregnancy complaints. Try to get plenty of rest and practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing. Aspirin and ibuprofen should not be taken. Consult your doctor if necessary.
- Spider and varicose veins: Your circulation has increased to send extra blood to your growing baby. That excess blood flow can cause tiny red veins, known as spider veins to appear on your skin. These normally fade away once the baby is born. Pressure on your legs from your growing baby can also slow blood flow to your lower body, causing the veins in your legs to become swollen and blue or purple. These are called varicose veins. Although there is no way to avoid varicose veins, you can prevent them from getting worse by getting up and moving throughout the day and propping up your legs on a stool whenever you have to sit for long periods of time. Wear support hose for extra support. Varicose veins should improve within three months after you deliver.
Any of these symptoms could be a sign that something is wrong with your pregnancy. Call your doctor right away if you experience:
- Severe abdominal pain or cramping
- Severe dizziness
- Rapid weight gain (more than 3kg per month) or too little weight gain (less than 4 kg per month at 20 weeks into the pregnancy).