Pregnancy Symptoms: Second Trimester
For many women, the second trimester of pregnancy is a welcome time of ease. Uncomfortable symptoms like morning sickness from the first trimester have often faded, and the baby’s size isn’t limiting mobility or pressing on internal abdominal structures yet. Nonetheless, physical changes in the woman’s body through the second trimester are noticeable, and there are a number of symptoms expectant mothers should monitor themselves for.
A Theme of Growth:
The primary change a woman’s body undergoes during second trimester pregnancy is rapid growth. From the second trimester until the birth, pregnant women can expect to gain up to four pounds per month. The baby begins to grow up into the higher abdominal area and out of the pelvis, giving that characteristic "bump" to the pregnant woman’s midsection. Breasts begin to grow larger during the second trimester, as hormonal changes and fatty tissue cause breast tissue and glands to fill out. Wearing a supportive bra will help keep the area comfortable.
These areas of growth and others can sometimes cause stretch marks to appear across the skin, which are caused by the skin stretching too quickly and tearing the connective fibers. Although these red, tan, white, or purple lines cannot be absolutely prevented, moisturizers and topical creams can help, and the marks will become less pronounced over time.
Things You Should Watch For:
There are other symptoms that occur in the second trimester, and are considered normal, but should be monitored to make sure they are not indicators of a problem. Braxton Hicks contractions are mild uterine contractions that you may feel in the abdominal area, and are simply exercises the uterus performs to build muscular strength in preparation for labor. These contractions may occur off and on, and shouldn’t be very painful, but if they do become strong or regular contact a healthcare provider as you may be in preterm labor and require medical attention.
A thin, white vaginal discharge is another normal symptom of this stage of pregnancy, and is actually considered to be beneficial. The acidic quality of the discharge may maintain an antibacterial and antifungal environment, protecting the vaginal area. However, if the discharge is green or yellowish, smells bad, or causes itching or other discomfort to the vaginal area you should contact a healthcare provider as these symptoms may be signs of a vaginal infection.
The growth of the uterus and natural slowing of the urinary tract during pregnancy may contribute to an increased risk of bladder and kidney infections, which can lead to preterm labor and other complications. If you have a fever, frequent urination, or pain while you urinate, contact a healthcare provider.
Your Feelings and Emotions:
While pregnancy is a time for physical change, emotional and psychological changes occur as well. With the new arrival still a few months off, take some time to prepare yourself: sign up for childbirth classes, find a pediatrician, and start planning for breastfeeding, childcare, and other post-birth concerns. Planning and preparation while you have the time and energy now will help you stay calm and feel more ready for the changes ahead.