The 3 Stages of Pregnancy

Second Trimester: Weeks 14 through 27

Welcome to the feel-good trimester. You'll notice that you have lots more energy and a lot less nausea. In addition, many moms-to-be find that their skin glows and their hair is shinier and thicker, thanks to surging hormones. Around week 20 your ligaments will start to soften in preparation for childbirth, and owing to extra pressure on your bladder from your expanding uterus, you'll need to hit the bathroom often. Still, this is the time to be good to yourself. Manicures and prenatal massages are totally safe, and remember, you won't have time for pampering after the baby comes!

Second-Trimester Checklist

  • Go to the dentist. Left untreated, periodontal disease can increase your risk of preeclampsia and preterm labor. If you canceled your appointment during the first trimester because of morning sickness, reschedule it now.
  • Load up on fruits and vegetables. You need an additional 300 calories a day when you're expecting. Give your body—and your baby—extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients by eating foods like apples, spinach, blueberries, and broccoli.
  • Get a peek at your baby. Many women have their first ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks. Your doctor will check the baby's size and can tell you whether it's a boy or a girl. You may also have several prenatal screenings during this trimester, including alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), gestational diabetes, and in some cases, amniocentesis.
  • Register for baby gear. Now's the perfect time to hit the baby stores to test strollers, carriers, and all the other stuff you'll need.
  • Have sex. Many women find that they have a higher libido during pregnancy. Not only is sex safe during pregnancy (unless your doctor says to avoid intercourse), it can be particularly hot as a result of increased blood flow to your pelvic region.
  • Take a trip. Want to enjoy one last getaway with your husband before the baby comes? Go now while your energy's up and your belly is still small. If you fly, be sure to walk around the cabin every hour or so to prevent fluid from accumulating in your legs; most experts recommend that you stop traveling by air at the 36-week mark.

Your Focus This Trimester: Exercising

Haven't been hitting the gym since you learned you were pregnant? Now's the time to put fitness first. Try these bump-friendly workouts.

  • Walking. Take a 30-minute stroll most days of the week to boost your circulatory system, ease constipation, and relieve stress. Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated, and don't push yourself too hard. If you're walking so fast that you can't talk in complete sentences, slow down.
  • Swimming. As your belly gets bigger, you'll find that this no-impact exercise is the most comfortable. Hate to swim? Consider signing up for a water aerobics class.
  • Prenatal yoga: In addition to teaching you breathing techniques, yoga poses can relieve tight muscles and work out the kinks in your lower back and hips. It's best to take classes with a certified instructor who can modify the poses for you.
  • Weight training: Lifting light weights will help you maintain muscle tone in your arms and shoulders. Avoid any move that requires you to lie on your back, since this can hinder blood flow to the uterus.

The Inside Story

During the second trimester, your baby's senses develop. His retinas and taste buds form, and he can even recognize your voice! He becomes more active during this phase too: You may be able to feel him kicking and turning in your belly at around 18 weeks. By the end of the 27th week, your baby will be nearly nine and a half inches long and weigh about two pounds.

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