What to expect in your 2nd trimester

An ultrasound scan showing a baby in the womb.

So, you’re pregnant? Congratulations! But what happens now? Well, depending on where you are in your journey, you might have some idea what to expect. But if you’re just about to have your 12 week scan, the next big milestone will be the start of your second trimester. To help, we’ve compiled all the information we think it’s useful to know at this point!

Second trimester: The basics

If you’re heading towards your second trimester, then it’s good to know what’s coming up. This section covers the basics for you – what it is, when it starts and how long it lasts.

What is the second trimester?

As the name suggests, the second trimester is the second stage of your pregnancy. Pregnancy is made up of three stages, and the second trimester is the middle stage, as well as the longest stage of pregnancy. This is when most changes occur to your body.

When does my second trimester start?

It starts at week 13 of pregnancy. A good milestone between the jump from first to second trimester, is your 12 week scan. This is your first chance to see baby and how they’re developing, and from here, you enter the second trimester.

How long does the second trimester last?

The second stage of your pregnancy ends at week 27, making way for your third trimester. That means that it lasts for 15 weeks in total – or around 3 and a half months.  

A pregnant woman holds her bump and smiles.

What happens to me in my second trimester?

For this section, we wanted to cover the changes to you and your body during your second trimester. We answered some of the top related questions.

Will I feel better during the second trimester?

As you approach week 13, your body will be gradually becoming used to everything that’s going on. So, while you may not feel like your old self, you should start to feel better than in the early weeks. Those initial problems like morning sickness should start to ease and you should start to feel like you’ve got more energy than before. Some women also find that their mood relaxes, as their body gets used to the hormones and some even have an increased sex drive – so it’s not all bad!

What are second trimester symptoms?

While many parents regard the second trimester as the most comfortable period of pregnancy – you should be over the worst of those early symptoms and it’s before your bump is so big it becomes uncomfortable. But that said, there are still a range of symptoms you might experience during your time. This includes:

  • Your bump will start to show
  • Thicker hair
  • Back pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Constipation
  • Lightheaded feeling or dizziness
  • Dark patches on your skin (producing more melanin)
  • Cramping in your groin
  • Pelvic pain
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Leg cramps
  • Nosebleeds
  • Getting warm quickly

OK, so that doesn’t look great does it? But remember, you might be lucky and not experience all of these, or you may find other pains and complications. It’s best to take it a day at a time and consult your GP if anything doesn’t feel right to you.

Is there a second trimester scan?

When people talk about a second trimester scan, they’re usually referring to the 20-week screening scan, which can occur anytime from around 18 weeks to 21 weeks. This is a lot like the 12-week scan, letting you and the sonographer see how your baby is developing, but it is completely optional.

It may be possible to tell the sex of the baby at this point, depending on how bubba is lying! If you do want to find out, make sure to ask your nurse to check at the start of the scan.

The NHS have lots of useful information on what to expect in your 20-week scan.

How do I sleep during my second trimester?

Some doctors and experts suggest not sleeping on your back during the second trimester and beyond, as this can place unnecessary pressure and weight on your back, intestines and the vein which carries blood to your heart. This could cause pain or discomfort but if you wake up and find yourself on your back, don’t worry.

Sleeping on your side is recommended, and specifically the left side in some cases. This position is better for blood flow and to allow nutrients to reach baby.

If you still can’t get comfortable then try:

  • Using lots of pillows to prop you up
  • Using a wedge-shaped pregnancy pillow
  • Sleeping in a semi-upright position

Can I fly during the second trimester?

Many experts suggest that the second trimester is the best time to fly or travel while pregnant. You should be over the sickness and nausea of the first few weeks, and it will be before your bump makes travel uncomfortable.

There is no harm in flying, providing you haven’t been experiencing any complications, but if you’re unsure, speak to your midwife or doctor.

How much caffeine can I drink during my second trimester?

We get it – everyone loves a coffee, especially when they’re carrying a second person around with them all day. That said, it’s best to limit your caffeine intake as much as possible while pregnant. There’s no set rule for during the second trimester, but generally, doctors say no more than one cup a day when pregnant. Ideally you want to be drinking less than that.

    A pregnant woman wraps a measuring tape around her bump.

    What happens to baby during the second trimester?

    So, that’s you covered. In this section we want to look at what will be happing to your bubba, as they develop.

    Baby’s development in the second trimester

    The 2nd trimester is when baby develops the most. At 13 weeks they will be a very real, albeit tiny, human. They will already be mostly formed with fingers, toes, and a heartbeat. But from here, they’ll really start to come into their own.

    Over the course of the 15 week trimester, they will start:

    • Weeing
    • Sucking their thumb
    • Swallowing
    • Moving
    • Developing hair and eyebrows
    • Becoming sensitive to light
    • Responding to sounds
    • Opening their eyes

    When will I feel my baby move?

    Every baby is different, so it’s hard to pin down an exact week that you will start feeling their movements. However, the NHS suggest that they will start moving between week 16 and 24 of pregnancy. If it’s your first baby, it might take a little longer to feel those movements. The initial feelings will be gentle flutters and churns, before progressing to full on kicks and other angular shuffling.

    There’s no set rule for how much a baby moves while in your womb – some expectant parents feel them at set times each day or while doing specific activities, for others it can be completely random.

    If you feel like your baby isn’t moving enough or you haven’t felt them by week 24 of your pregnancy, it’s important to consult your midwife or GP.

    When does a baby grow hair?

    Baby can start growing hair from around the 14 week mark. This is known as ‘lanugo’ and it will be not only on their head but all over their body. They will start to grow fine, downy hair and even develop eyebrows and eyelashes.

    When does a baby start responding to sounds?

    Around week 15 of pregnancy, your baby will be starting to hear sounds. They’ll have a front row seat to the variety of noises going on inside you, from your beating heart to those late night rumbles as you search the cupboard for pickled onions and marshmallows. This is a great time to start talking to your bump and seeing if you can get a reaction. By talking or singing to them in a gentle, soothing tone, you can start to develop a bond and even calm your baby if they seem restless.

    The Wye Valley NHS have a great leaflet all about talking to your bump.

    When does a baby open their eyes?

    Your baby will start to open their eyes towards the end of your second trimester – or around 27 weeks. From here, they will begin to learn to constrict, dilate, register light and movement, before eventually tracking objects and colours.

    Summary

    And that, in a nutshell, is your second trimester. It may seem easy peasy and you might feel confident you can handle it – great! It may look a little daunting – but don’t worry. Like every stage of pregnancy, you just take it one day at a time. You’ve got this!