Weeks 13-26 make up the second trimester of pregnancy… sometimes called the golden trimester as, by now, the dreaded nausea has hopefully passed and you’re likely feeling more and more like yourself. During the second trimester, you’ll surpass the halfway point at 20 weeks. Both your body and your baby will experience significant changes during these few months.
What to Expect in the Second Trimester
Many women describe the 2nd trimester as the most pleasant—you’ve overcome the discomfort that comes with early pregnancy but your belly isn’t usually big enough to be bothersome quite yet. That said, there is a wide range of what’s considered “normal” in pregnancy and each person experiences it differently from the next.
Second trimester symptoms can include:
- Discomfort related to a growing uterus
- Increased energy compared to fatigue in early pregnancy
- Increasingly visible veins
- Quickening (fetal movement)
- Increased vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea (this is entirely normal and serves to protect your baby from infection)
Did you know? While for most women the “morning sickness” that they experience in the 1st trimester subsides in the 2nd trimester, others experience something called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition involves severe nausea and vomiting resulting in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. While most cases of HG can be managed at home, some women require hospitalization to receive intravenous fluids during pregnancy.
Your Baby in the Second Trimester
During this trimester, your baby will grow from being about three inches long and weighing not quite a pound at 13 weeks to being about 14 inches long and weighing more than one and a half pounds at 26 weeks.
He or she will go from being the size of a lemon to the size of a head of lettuce.
Bones and organs will continue to develop and mature. Your baby’s head will begin to become more proportionate to his or her body—he or she will look a lot less alien-like and a lot more baby-like.
Your little one may even begin to suck his or her thumb, a habit that they may continue to use as a soothing tool once they are earthside.
Quickening or Fetal Movement
Many women report feeling their baby move as one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy. You should begin to feel fetal movement around weeks 16-24 (second-time moms tend to detect movement earlier). At first, it can be hard to differentiate gas from fetal movement, but it may feel like tiny flutters in your lower abdomen. Later in pregnancy, the kicks and turns will be hard to ignore!
Be sure to speak with your doctor about whether they recommend kick counts and how often.
Your Body in the Second Trimester
During the 2nd trimester, you may officially begin to “show,” meaning your baby bump will get more and more difficult to hide. If you’re pregnant for the first time, this may take longer.
As your uterus grows in size to accommodate your developing baby and growing placenta, you may experience aches and pains related to uterine ligaments stretching.
Your breasts may continue to get larger, as well, although they may become less tender than they were in the 1st trimester.
Wondering about normal weight gain? While you may have only gained a couple of pounds in early pregnancy, you should start to gain half a pound to one pound during each week of the 2nd trimester. This will be monitored each time you visit your doctor.
During your routine appointments, your doctor will start to measure your fundal height around 20 weeks. He or she will use a tape measure to measure the number of centimeters from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone. After 24 weeks, your fundal height in centimeters should be the same as the number of weeks pregnant you are.
While you may have only seen your doctor once during the first trimester, you will start to go in more and more often as your pregnancy progresses.
Most women are seen at weeks 16-18 for a brief routine visit (there is typically no ultrasound at this appointment). Your provider will likely recommend a blood draw around this time, called “Maternal Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein,” or MSAFP. This test screens for open neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
Around 20 weeks, your doctor will see you for something called an Anatomy Scan. This appointment will include a detailed ultrasound that closely examines each of your baby’s body parts and organs to ensure proper development. If you didn’t find out baby’s sex in early pregnancy via bloodwork, you can find out at this appointment, if desired.
If you are keeping the sex a surprise, be sure to let your doctor or ultrasound tech know before this scan so that they don’t slip up!
You can expect the next routine appointment to be around 28 weeks, during which your doctor will screen for gestational diabetes and anemia.
Telling Your Family: Have You Spilled the Beans?
It’s hard to know when to share the big news with family, friends, and coworkers. Many parents-to-be choose to wait until the 2nd trimester to let loved ones know about their one-on-the-way, the reasoning being that the risk for miscarriage drops significantly once you reach the second trimester mark. Take a look at our article on fun ways to announce your news.
If you suffer from severe nausea in the first trimester or work in a job that requires special accommodations in pregnancy, you may have to tell others sooner. Know that this decision is entirely up to you and your partner and there is no “right” time—do what feels comfortable for you.
When does the second trimester start?
The second trimester runs from week 13 to 26.
How many weeks long is the second trimester?
This 2nd trimester lasts for 13 weeks.
What is Fundal Height?
This is a measure from top of your uterus to your pubic bone. After 24 weeks, your fundal height in centimeters should be the same as how many weeks pregnant you are.
What is Quickening?
This is another term for Fetal Movement – the fluttering movements as your baby starts to move more. You should start to feel fetal movement around weeks 16-24 (second-time moms tend to detect movement earlier).
In this series
First Trimester: Read our guide to the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Second Trimester: This guide.
Third Trimester: Read our guide to the third trimester of your pregnancy.
Routine blood tests during pregnancy: Our guide to the blood tests you’ll be recommended during pregnancy