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Second Trimester: Know what to expect

Congrats, you’ve made it to the second trimester! That’s a reason to celebrate, because growing another person is a big deal and hard work. If you experienced some unpleasantries during the first trimester, breathe a sigh of relief because the second trimester is famous for being the most comfortable weeks of pregnancy. We’ve got the lowdown on what to expect during weeks 12 through 27, both in our bodies and our babies’!

Second Trimester Symptoms

Annoyances like morning sickness and breast tenderness should fade away around the second trimester, but in case we forget our bodies will remind us that we are indeed pregnant. We can expect the following symptoms:


Since our new little friend is growing, the extra weight places extra pressure on our backs. Wearing supportive shoes, practicing good posture, and sleeping with a pillow between the legs are all everyday habits we can form that’ll save our backs during and after pregnancy.

Bleeding gums

Our blood flow increases during these nine months, including to the gums. This can cause greater gum sensitivity and bleeding when brushing or flossing. Keeping up dental hygiene is super important during pregnancy, as some studies have shown that women with gum disease may be more likely to go into labor prematurely. Try a softer toothbrush and flossing gently, but we shouldn’t stop brushing or flossing!

Breast enlargement

Our bodies are prepping for producing milk, so the breasts will keep on growing, though they’ll probably feel less tender than during the first trimester. Going up a bra size can give extra comfort.

Congestion and nosebleeds

Stuffy or bloody noses may be more frequent, as our changing hormones can cause the mucus membranes in our noses to swell. Saline drops can help with this, as can decongestants, but always check with your doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy. Sleeping with an air humidifier in the room may help reduce congestion.

Hair growth

Those good ol’ hormones may lead to hair popping up in unusual places, like the face, arms, or back. The hair on our heads may also become thicker. It’s safest to stick to plucking or shaving unwanted hair, as waxing or laser hair removal are not recommended during pregnancy.


Also known as fluttering, this that classic “butterflies in the stomach” sensation we all hear about. These are some of the first movements we feel from our babies. Some women don’t experience this until sixth months in, so don’t freak out if you don’t experience fluttering for a while.

Skin changes

Hormones can make our faces flush, creating that “pregnancy glow.” We may also experience what’s known as “pregnancy mask,” some darkening of the skin under the eyes, as well as a dark line running down the abdomen toward the belly button due to an increase in melanin. These dark areas should clear up after delivery as hormone levels return to normal.

Swelling of the feet and ankles

About 75% of pregnant women experience swelling, usually starting around week 22 until delivery. Staying active, sleeping on our sides, and avoiding long stints of sitting or standing can keep the puffiness under control.

Varicose and spider veins/hemorrhoids

Because of increased blood flow to baby, our skin may show tiny red veins, sometimes called spider veins. More swollen, blue veins are known as varicose veins, and can actually be itchy or uncomfortable. Hemorrhoids are actually varicose veins that form around the anus, and can also become more frequent during pregnancy. Soaking in a bath and over-the-counter treatments can help hemorrhoids (always ask a doctor first), and propping up our legs can clear up varicose veins.

Weight gain

We should be eating about 300-500 extra calories a day and gaining half a pound to one pound a week during the second trimester. Check in with your doctor about what healthy weight gain looks like for you.

Seek emergency help if…

Seek immediate attention if you experience:

  • Sharp abdominal pain
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe dizziness
  • Rapid weight gain or not enough weight gain

Do not wait until your next checkup to bring up any of these red flag symptoms.

What’s going on with Baby?

Baby spent a lot of time developing organs during the first trimester, and now it’s time for major growth of all those systems. By the end of the second trimester, we’re carrying about a 2 pound baby! Big milestones include:

  • Hair and skin: Baby’s first hairs are popping up around week 16, and eyelashes and eyebrows around week 22. A downy coat known as lanugo forms also around the skin to warm up Baby until they develop more fat later on in pregnancy, as well as a layer of oil to protect the skin from the acidity of the amniotic fluid.
  • Flavor palate: This body system has already developed from the first trimester, but now Baby gets to fully taste all the foods we eat through the amniotic fluid. Studies have shown that what we eat during pregnancy may influence our kids’ tastes after delivery, so maybe if we eat our fruits and veggies they’ll be more apt to as well!
  • Eyes and ears: The eyes and ears are transitioning into their correct positions, and by week 22 Baby will start hearing and seeing, including hearing your own voice!
  • Heart: The brain will start regulating Baby’s heartbeat, so it’ll stop beating so spontaneously. The capillaries also begin forming and carrying oxygenated blood throughout Baby’s body around week 25.
  • Movement: Baby can now kick and move around from side to side. If you eat a snack right before your 18-20 week ultrasound, you may get to see your baby dance around on screen!

Want to learn more?

Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic offers confidential services including ultrasounds, prenatal education, counseling, and more at no cost. Our hope is that you get the resources you need throughout your pregnancy and into motherhood. Call today or click below to make an appointment with our trained nurses.

By Kath Crane