The second trimester of pregnancy – what to expect

Second trimester

After the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, you officially enter the second trimester. Most women experience this trimester as the most enjoyable one. Not only is the chance of a miscarriage much smaller, but the discomforts of the first trimester often fade away. The exhaustion and nausea of the first trimester usually start to wear off and your belly is not so big yet that it gets in the way. Of course, you may also experience discomforts during the second trimester. Here you can read all about it!

Your baby during the second trimester

Your baby during the second trimester

During the second trimester, your baby grows to around 940 grams (2.07 pounds). Your baby’s organs are formed and the amount of amniotic fluid increases. During this time, your baby is mostly focused on working its muscles and practising swallowing, sucking and breathing. Your baby’s teeth also start developing and its senses are rapidly developing, so your it can now recognize your voice.

One of the most exciting moments of pregnancy is when you feel your baby move for the first time. This occurs at a different time in every woman, but usually during the second trimester. The first time you feel this is a magical moment!

What to keep in mind

What to keep in mind

As during the first trimester, there are a number of things to keep in mind during the second trimester of pregnancy. Do not drink too much coffee or other caffeinated products on a daily basis, do not eat raw meat or fish, do not drink alcohol and do not smoke cigarettes.

During the first trimester, it is not recommended to use a sauna or jacuzzi due to the high temperatures. But during the second trimester, it is not a problem to use a sauna or jacuzzi because all your baby’s organs have already developed.


Hormones during the first trimester of pregnancy

What is the difference in your hormones between the first and second trimester of your pregnancy? The biggest difference is that, during the second trimester, your body is better able to adapt to the high hormone levels. The amount of the hormone hCG in your body, which rose continuously during the first trimester, now starts decreasing. This means that the nausea will start easing. Of course, hormonal shifts can also cause various other symptoms.


  • High blood pressure: the hormone progesterone plays a role in the relaxing of blood vessels, which can lead to a drop in blood pressure, followed by a rapid increase. It is important to monitor blood pressure well during pregnancy and low blood pressure is better than (too) high blood pressure.
  • Mood swings: during pregnancy, it is completely normal to respond differently to events or situations and to be a lot more emotional than usual. This is due to the considerable hormonal changes taking place in your body. The fluctuations of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone in particular affect the neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate emotions.
  • Gestational diabetes: pregnancy hormones can disrupt insulin function, causing a high blood sugar level. Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that only develops during pregnancy.

Apart from fluctuating hormones, you can also experience all kinds of other symptoms during the second trimester.

Pregnancy is not all sunshine and roses


Pregnancy is not all sunshine and roses

Family, friends and even strangers have a tendency to tell you to enjoy your pregnancy. And many women do find this an enjoyable experience, especially during the second trimester. Your belly is growing, you can feel your baby kicking and you experience fewer discomforts than during the first trimester.

But not everyone enjoys being pregnant. Some women have a very difficult pregnancy, or find it mentally challenging. If you do not enjoy being pregnant, just remember that this is completely normal. And if you are experiencing depressive thoughts, contact your doctor or a specialist!


Symptoms of the second trimester of pregnancy

During the second trimester of your pregnancy, fatigue and nausea usually start to subside, but there are other discomforts that you may experience. The most common ones:

  • Lower leg cramps
    Lower leg cramps usually start during the second trimester and may worsen as your pregnancy progresses. The cause of these cramps is not completely clear. However, it is believed that the growing and, consequently, heavier uterus is the reason because it impacts blood flow to the legs.
  • Stuffy nose
    You do not have a cold, but your nose is stuffed all the time. This is called pregnancy rhinitis and is a chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa during pregnancy. Around one in three women experience nasal congestion during pregnancy. It is caused by hormonal changes and the rising levels of the hormone oestrogen play a major role in this.
  • Lower back pain
    Most women experience lower back pain during the second trimester of their pregnancy. During this time, your belly is growing quickly, which places more weight on your ligaments and lower back. This in turn often causes lower back pain.
  • Heartburn
    Because your baby and uterus are growing, there is more pressure on your stomach. Heartburn is caused by stomach acid flowing up into the oesophagus, which causes a burning sensation in the throat.
  • Shortness of breath
    During the final weeks of the second trimester, you may experience shortness of breath. This is because your diaphragm is being pushed upwards, so there is less room for your lungs to expand.
  • Ligament pain
    Ligament pain is a discomfort that is usually only experienced by women during their first pregnancy. Your uterus is held in place by ligaments and because it is growing, these ligaments become a lot more strained. This strain in turn can cause abdominal pain or cramps.
  • Bladder infection
    Women are more likely to develop a bladder infection during pregnancy.
  • Stretch marks
    Striae, stretchies, tiger stripes… There are lots of different names for stretch marks, which are caused by the rapid stretching of the skin. When the skin expands rapidly, the second skin layer does not have enough time to adapt, causing tearing of the connective tissue. Stretch marks are most common in the stomach area, but can also develop on buttocks, breasts and thighs.


To-do’s during the second trimester of pregnancy

  • Continuing going to the doctor regularly to check your blood pressure, have an ultrasound or listen to your baby’s heartbeat.
  • Sign up for a birthing class.
  • Start looking for childcare if you will require this.
  • Schedule an appointment with your dentist because you can experience more dental problems during pregnancy.
  • Arrange for your maternity leave and find out what you may be entitled to.
  • Write a birth plan in which you state your preferences during labour and delivery, such as where you want to give birth, who you want to have with you and your pain relief preferences.
  • Start preparing the nursery. Decorating a nursery is fun and also helps you and your partner to bond with your baby.
  • Start thinking about baby names.
  • Request information on optional screening tests.