Many women report uncomfortable and unpleasant first trimester symptoms, so it can be a wonderful relief to enter the second trimester and realize that many of the worst symptoms are fading. Oftentimes, women in the second trimester report feeling more energized, they can eat more, and they aren’t quite far along enough to feel the strains of a full-term pregnancy. What a welcome reprieve after such a rough start!
However, you’ll still notice a few things that stand out in the second trimester. As your uterus starts to grow, the ligaments supporting it start to stretch, and this may cause you round ligament pain. While this is not dangerous, it can be annoying. If you notice severe or worsening abdominal pain, contact your obstetric provider immediately. And with a growing uterus comes a growing belly—and possibly stretch marks. Unfortunately, creams have not been shown to lessen your chances of getting stretch marks.
Some other weird symptoms may start to show up too: strange dreams, gums that tend to bleed more when you brush (but be sure to still brush and floss!), extra saliva in your mouth (thanks to changes in your hormones), and varicose or spider veins. This last one is related to the extra blood volume in your body and the pressure the uterus puts on your veins.
The best part of the second trimester? Getting to feel your baby move! This usually happens around week 16, but can be earlier if you’ve had a baby before. As you move further along in the second trimester, you may notice more foot swelling. Propping your feet up and wearing tight-fitting stockings can help lessen this. Some women even have to go up a shoe size because of the swelling and the flattening of the feet that pregnancy hormones cause.
Low back pain may start to surface in the second trimester. Massage, exercise, rest, taking a bath, and wearing a belly band can help with this. If it is constant or nothing relieves it, definitely talk to your doctor or midwife.
Some women report heartburn in the second trimester, while others don’t notice it until they are further along or are lucky and avoid it completely. Eating small, frequent meals can help, as does sitting upright after eating. Occasionally medications are needed, and your doctor or midwife can help guide you on this.
You’ll probably notice your first contractions at some point in this trimester, too. These often pop up when you are dehydrated, when your bladder is full, or after sex. While the occasional practice contractions (also known as Braxton Hicks contractions) are okay, you should not be having regular, strong ones just yet. This could be a sign of preterm labor. If you notice four or more strong contractions that take your breath away in an hour, or an intense amount of pressure, let your doctor know.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, April 2020
- The second trimester is often the most energizing time of pregnancy.
- Round ligament pain and stretch marks often show up at this time.
- You’ll get to feel your baby move around the 16th week of pregnancy, give or take a few weeks.
- Practice contractions are normal in this trimester, but regular, strong ones may be a sign of preterm labor.