Pregnancy - Second Trimester 13-28 weeks
What’s happening to your baby?
At around 13 weeks the placenta takes over the job of hormone production. At the start of this period your baby will be 8-9cm long. By week 18 she will have grown to about 18cm and weigh around 7oz. She will have started to swallow. She will be moving about a lot. She now has a covering of lanugo (soft, downy hair) to keep her warm.
Her body will begin to look much more in proportion now. She is covered in a waxy substance called vernix which protects her skin. She can swallow amniotic fluid which makes her hiccup. When you are resting she will become more active (a sign of things to come!). Your baby is now storing fat which regulates body temperature. By week 23 she is about 28cm in length and weighs about 1lb. She can hear sounds from outside the womb.
If she were born now she would stand a chance of survival. Her brain is growing. She can open and close her eyes, which now have lashes. Her facial expressions can be seen to change. This is time during pregnancy when your baby will be most active, as she is still small enough to move freely. By week 28 she is around 32cm long and about 2lb 4oz.
What’s happening to your body?
You will be growing bigger, although some women don’t start to show until later in pregnancy. Don’t worry about the size of your bump, as everyone grows at different rates and the medical staff monitors the size of your baby. You may start to feel the baby moving. With a first baby it is usually at around 18 weeks, although it can be later. It will start as a fluttering sensation.
A dark line sometimes appears from your navel, down along the middle of your abdomen. This is called linea nigra and will fade after birth. Skin pigmentation can alter and skin can look darker in places. You can also develop spots as hormonal changes affect your skin condition.
You may start to feel breathless, as your uterus is pushed into the abdomen and pushes on the diaphragm. You will also want to wee more frequently, as the pressure on the bladder increases.
Hopefully your emotions will have settled down, leaving you feeling happier and less anxious. Your libido may return during this period. Your energy levels will increase.
Make sure you moisturise your skin with a rich moisturising cream or oil such as cocoa butter or vitamin E, to help prevent stretch marks.
You will probably feel like a punch bag as your baby kicks and moves. You may be feeling achy and uncomfortable due to the extra weight you are carrying. Your hair and nails will grow quicker than usual and you may find that they are in better condition than normal.
Ultra Sound Scans
Ultra Sound Scans are usually offered at around the 12th and 20th week of pregnancy. For more detail see the antenatal tests section.
You will be offered various antenatal tests throughout pregnancy. For more detail see the antenatal tests section.
Unless you have a high risk pregnancy most of your antenatal care will be done by your midwife. You are usually assigned to a team of midwives but may see one member regularly. If you receive some care at your GPs surgery and some care at the hospital then you will probably see more than one midwife. Getting to know a few members of the team can be advantageous, as when you go into labour you will have a better chance of seeing a familiar face.
As you are under the care of your midwife from your booking in appointment at about the 12th week of pregnancy until you are discharged into the care of the health visitor after birth, it is important that you have a good relationship with her. It is your midwife’s role to help you achieve the type of birth you want where possible, whether it is at home or in hospital or midwifery unit. If you are unhappy with your midwife then contact the head of midwifery at your surgery or hospital. If you are not satisfied with the level of care available in your area, another option would be to seek an independent midwife, who works outside the NHS. Independent midwives are self employed.
For more information or to find independent midwife in your area contact The Independent Midwives Association:
Independent Midwives Association
89 Green Lane, Farncombe
Surrey, GU7 3TB
Feeling Your Baby Move
When you first feel your baby move it can feel like a fluttering or bubbling sensation, or even like wind in your tummy! These movements usually become noticeable between 16 and 22 weeks. If it is your first baby you will probably feel this later than you will with subsequent babies. How early you will feel your baby can also depend on how strong your stomach muscles are and how much weight you are carrying.
Early movements are harder to notice so they will seem to only happen occasionally. As baby gets bigger and movements get stronger you may become aware of a pattern to when movements occur. If you are in any way concerned that your baby has become less active, then contact your midwife and she will be able to monitor you and hopefully put your mind at rest. You can ask your midwife for ways to keep track of your baby’s movements during later pregnancy.
If baby’s movements are becoming very uncomfortable, tilting the pelvis can help to move baby slightly, so that the discomfort subsides.
Sex During Pregnancy
Some couples find that sex is never better than during pregnancy. On the other hand others find that pregnancy is certainly not an aphrodisiac! There is no normal way for either person to feel, so don’t waste energy worrying that your sex life has deteriorated; it is the same for lots of couples.
Your partner, especially, may feel uncomfortable about the thought of sex “with the baby present”. Or he may fear that penetration may harm the baby. You may feel tired/uncomfortable/sick/fat/unattractive (delete as appropriate). Even the skinniest celebs that look like they have put a football up there jumper and don’t even have a micro gram of fat on them, will have felt self conscious and would rather have gone to bed looking forward to hot chocolate than hot sex! Remember there are other ways of bringing intimacy back to the relationship; such as massaging, kissing and cuddling, talking about your feelings and spending quality time together as a couple.
Then there are the couples whose sex lives become wonderful (don’t you hate them already). You and your partner may find your ripe, curvy body sensual – of course it helps if you don’t have piles or acute morning sickness. If you feel as if you’re blooming and have energy, then sex can be really exciting as you have to adapt to different positions – the missionary position becomes the mission impossible position. The blood flow to your clitoris increases which heightens sensations and your breasts will become sensitive to the touch. Emotionally you will feel closer as a couple which may increase desire.
If you have any worries about having sex whilst pregnant then consult your midwife or GP. Some instances when sex during pregnancy can be risky are:
- If you have any bleeding
- If you have a history of miscarriage
- If you have placenta praevia
- Once your waters have broken then you should not have sex due to the risk of infection.