Second Trimester: Week 13 to 27
You’ve reached your second trimester. For most mums it’s a real milestone because it’s around now that you’ll want to start announcing the news to your friends and family.
As your baby grows inside you, your body will be going through some changes too during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy; pregnancy hormones will be affecting you both physically and mentally. But, although you might notice your moods are a little changeable, lots of mums-to-be report an increase in their energy levels – especially as morning sickness tends to fade as you enter your second trimester.
Your baby’s development during the second trimester
The second trimester is another important phase for your baby’s development. Your baby is becoming active and moving around more. Internally, your baby’s major body systems are becoming established by the time you’re 17 weeks pregnant.
Your baby will develop his/her hearing. By the 22nd week, he/she will hear well enough to be soothed by your voice and may have settled into a regular pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
By the end of the 2nd trimester, the senses of your baby are developing rapidly too, with their eyes now becoming more sensitive to light.
What should I eat during the second trimester?
To support your baby’s healthy development, a healthy & complete diet is essential:
- While it’s tempting to use the excuse of “eating for two” during pregnancy, you don’t need to increase your calorie intake until your third trimester. However, it’s still important to eat a healthy diet now to ensure your baby gets the essential nutrients that will help them to grow and develop. Make sure you include plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals and breads and low-fat dairy foods like yogurt and cheese to provide enough daily calcium.
- Your baby’s rapidly developing brain, especially in week 21, requires special types of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, known as LCPs (long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids). Your baby gets the LCPs they need from your own internal stores via the placenta in pregnancy, and then through your breastmilk after birth. Eating plenty of omega-3-rich foods such as oily fish, including mackerel, sardines and trout, is therefore vital. However, you’re advised to eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week and not to take fish oil supplements as some contain high levels of vitamin A, which can prove harmful to your baby.
- As well as supporting bones, calcium helps muscles to function properly and should still form an important part of your balanced pregnancy diet.
- A healthy, varied diet should include calcium-rich foods; tuck into low-fat dairy foods such as cheese, yogurt or skimmed milk along with tinned sardines, sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, tofu, baked beans and figs. Many cereals are now fortified with extra calcium and don’t forget to drink the milk that’s left. Sticking to low-fat dairy foods won’t give you any less calcium, just fewer calories. Iodine-rich foods, like milk, continue to support cognitive function. All women need at least 0.14mg of iodine a day. If you’re worried about your iodine levels, speak to your doctor or midwife who may suggest taking supplements.
- In the second trimester especially from the 26th week of pregnancy, your baby is entering a stage of significant physical growth and brain development. Your balanced diet should include good sources of the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCP)such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to support this rapid brain development.
For a healthy intake of LCPs including DHA, aim to eat 1–2 portions of oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna and salmon, per week. Avoid eating more than this due to the levels of pollutants and mercury they may contain.
During the second trimester, you’ll have your 20-week scan. Its purpose is to check that everything is as it should be and your baby is developing normally.
The scan takes about 15-20 minutes. During the scan, the sonographer will look for any abnormalities in your baby’s physical growth and development, and also check the position of the placenta. They may also be able to tell you the sex of your baby!
Your health during the second trimester
Food cravings & heartburn
At this stage (especially during the 16th and 17th weeks), many women say that they get pregnancy food cravings, ranging from hot, spicy curries to ripe, juicy peaches and marmite because of its yeast content.
Heartburn, which feels like a sharp pain in the middle of your chest, is common during pregnancy. It’s often brought on by lying flat after a meal, as the stomach acid released to digest your food leaks into the oesophagus.
These tried and tested tips can help to prevent and soothe heartburn:
- Eat little and often instead of large meals
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime – give your body a couple of hours to digest your meal
- A glass of water will help cool the burn – avoid milk, as it can make heartburn worse
- Sleep with your upper body slightly raised using a couple of pillows to prop up your back and neck
- Get plenty of medical advice – and don’t take any indigestion remedies before checking with your doctor first
Your weight and its evolution
As you approach your third trimester your baby is growing rapidly. Weight gain during pregnancy is necessary and natural – it’s essential to your baby’s growth and development and provides a food store to breastfeed. The healthy amount of weight it’s recommended you gain depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. If you’re a healthy weight, you should aim for a weight gain of between 22 to 28lbs over the course of your pregnancy. If you were previously overweight, a gain of 15 to 25lbs is considered healthy.
Full of energy
During your second trimester, you’ll probably find you have lots more energy compared to your first trimester. If you feel like you want to exercise and put the energy to good use, make sure you choose an activity that is safe. Always consult your doctor before you start anything new.