Yesterday’s blog post, which was suppose to go up on Wednesday but I kind of forgot that it was Wednesday altogether (I even forgot to go to my chiropractor appointment!!) and didn’t realize it until late that evening, I highlighted The Joys & Miseries of The First Trimester of Pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or TTC (trying to conceive) you should definitely take a look! If you’ve already passed through your first trimester, I’d love to hear how your symptoms compared! Likewise, I’d love to hear your thoughts and concerns on today’s blog post as I move on to discuss the second trimester…
THE SECOND TRIMESTER: WEEK 13 – WEEK 27
The Nausea Subsides: Thankfully, the list of second trimester symptoms generally doesn’t include morning sickness. Most pregnant women find that it tapers off or stops completely. Mine did around week 14 and I was so thankful to begin feeling like a normal human being again! But the stomach bloating was replaced with lower abdomen bloating that is also known is constipation…
Constipation: During pregnancy, elevated progesterone levels cause smooth muscles to relax, which slows the passage of food through your intestines. This increases water absorption from the bowel and results in constipation. Yay! This is when I increased my fiber intake and it helped 100%. I was determined to avoid the lovely symptom that goes hand in hand with pregnancy and constipation… hemorrhoids! Straining while voiding CAN cause other bad symptoms – rectal bleeding and rectal fissures. The first step in treating constipation is making sure that you are drinking lots of water (at least 8 glasses a day), consuming enough fiber (as in fruits and vegetables), and getting ample activity (try walking 20-30 minutes daily. I even attempted a mild constipation medication, Colace, but it didn’t work as well as just plain of water and fiber.
Linea Nigra: That new dark line on your skin that goes from your pubic bone up toward your boobs is called the linea nigra and is yet another wonderful outcome of those raging hormones (this one being an increase in the skin-darkening melanin). Mine didn’t really start showing up until the third trimester, and even now it’s very very very light. I can hardly tell a difference so I doubt anyone else could. While it may not be the most welcome physical change, it will go away. Of course, breastfeeding tends to keep some of those hormones sticking around longer so mine won’t go away until around 9-12 months postpartum.
Gas: It’s interesting that not only do we preggers experience constipation but also gas at the same time. HOW?! Progesterone makes your gut work slower, giving your body more time to snatch up nutrients from your food and take them to baby… and translating into gas for you. Later in pregnancy, your growing uterus starts pushing up on your stomach and down on your rectum. Luckily, there are ways to relieve some of the pressure: Eat small, regular meals, and stay away from foods that tend to give you gas.
Darkened Areolas: You might have noticed this appear as early as a week or two after conception. The darkening of the area around your nipples happens because of your surging pregnancy hormones. Some pregnant women even notice bumps (that look like goose-bumps) called Montogomery tubercles that help lupricate your nipples for when you’re nursing. For better (and worse), your areolas may grow and the color may deepen as your pregnancy progresses. Mine definitely have darkened but I don’t mind it as much as I thought I would. Sometimes the change is forever and other times, it’s not.
Baby Movement: Until now, baby has been too small to detect its movements but trust me, baby’s been moving up a storm in there! Between 16 and 22 weeks, you’ll start to feel your baby move around inside you, known as “quickening.” They won’t feel like real kicks or jabs just yet, since baby still has plenty of room to move around. Early movements are very gentle and subtle. You may only notice them if you are sitting or lying quietly. They’re also harder to discern if you’re overweight or your placenta is anterior (on the front of your uterus, near the stomach), which is exactly where my placenta was/is. Plus, these early kicks can be infrequent. You might feel something tomorrow and then nothing for a few days. Toward the end of this trimester, you may start feeling rhythmic “blip” like movements… baby just has hiccups! And it’s pretty adorable! Little Guy started having them around 26 weeks and still has them on a daily basis.
Breathlessness: At this stage of pregnancy, even mundane activities like walking to the bathroom might make you feel out of breath. It’s perfectly normal. As the uterus grows, it crowds the lungs, making it a little harder for air to flow in and out. Bending over was and still is difficult for me. Tying my shoe, un-loading the dishwasher, picking something up off the floor – you name it. My face would turn red and I would completely run out of breath. Grunting was/is a common noise to be heard.
Maternity Clothes: By week 16, you’ll likely be wearing maternity clothes due to your expanding waistline and widening hips. By the beginning of my second trimester, due to all the additional hormones IVF required, I had already gained 15 pounds so I had to start wearing maternity jeans and leggings earlier but most of my tops still fit. Although buying new clothes, especially cute maternity clothes, is fun, it’s also on the more expensive side. In Paducah, we have one maternity store: Motherhood Maternity. I did some shopping online (Old Navy, H&M, and Target) but it’s best if you can find a friend or relative generous enough to let you buy or even borrow their used maternity clothes for the time being. My best friend lent me all of hers, as well as a co-worker, so my collection is pretty large. If you’re near me, hit me up for some adorable pieces! Most are size small but I have a few mediums.
Stretch Marks: Please hear me on this – you cannot prevent stretch marks. It seems to be hereditary and has some to do with how rapidly your stomach grows and returns to its “before” state. For example, my mom didn’t get stretch marks until after her third pregnancy (she was pregnant four times). I have yet to see any on myself but I still lotion myself up with Vitamin E based lotions. Why? Because stretch marks can be diminished quicker by having adequately hydrated skin throughout the stretching period of pregnancy and while postpartum skin shrinks. Some don’t see stretch marks until after baby is born, which indicates that it may have more to do with the quick return to norm.
Larger Breasts: Your breasts might keep growing, thanks to additional fat accumulating and in preparation for producing milk. Tenderness does go away during the second trimester but by now you’ll need to purchasing and wearing a larger bra size. Like I mention in yesterday’s post, be smart and only buy a few nursing bras (if you plan on nursing). Don’t hit up Victoria’s Secret and don’t buy a whole new wardrobe of bras. Especially if you’re not planning to breastfeed – you’re breasts will return to before pregnant size (or even shrink to smaller than before pregnancy size) after your milk supply goes down.
Braxton Hicks Contractions: Your uterus might start contracting to build strength for the big job ahead. You might feel these practice contractions, called Braxton Hicks contractions, in your abdomen. They’re usually weak and come and go unpredictably. I’ve been having them regularly and frequently since around week 24 or so and the only way I can explain them would be a tightening of the entire uterus. They don’t stop me in my tracks, and I can always talk through them, so I know they’re just Braxton Hicks. Some websites tell you to notify your OB if you have more than 6 in an hour. So I did at the beginning, however my OB wasn’t/isn’t concerned and after a long time of experiencing them, I know I shouldn’t be either.
Increased Risk for Sunburn: Thank God I wasn’t pregnant during summer, for many reasons, but in this case because hormones are just awesome… I’m fair skinned but even dark complected people can have an issue with this. It’s recommended that no one ever stay out in the sun without sunscreen on but it’s even more important while you’re pregnant. Lather on that SPF and stay in the shade when you can.
Nasal and Gum Problems: As pregnancy increases your circulation, more blood flows through your body’s mucous membranes. This causes the lining of your nose and airway to swell, which can restrict airflow and lead to snoring, congestion and nosebleeds. Oh boy do I struggle with this still! You may have heard me mention this before but Breath Right strips work WONDERS! The increased blood circulation can also soften your gums, which might cause minor bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. Switching to a softer toothbrush can help.
Leg Cramps: Leg cramps are common as pregnancy progresses, often striking at night. I found that if I start to get one, I just flex my foot or leg in the opposite way of the cramp and it stops immediately. Before I figured this trick out, the cramps would just about kill me!
Skin Tags: Noticed some extra skin under your arms or boobs lately? (I have a couple on my areolas!) Just another awesome symptom caused by the awesome pregnancy hormones :/ Those are skin tags and they’re perfectly normal during pregnancy – just like most of the other skin changes going on with your body (hello, dark spots on your face!). Fortunately, they typically disappear on their own after pregnancy.
Round Ligament Pain: Feel that stretching like pain on the right (and sometimes left) side just above your pubic area Although totally normal, that doesn’t stop it from hurting. Here’s what’s happening: During pregnancy, your uterus expands from the about the size of an apple to the size of a watermelon. The ligaments that surround and support your uterus and connect it to your groin have to stretch and thicken to accommodate these changes, and this can hurt a bit, especially in the second trimester. It feels like sharp pains in your abdomen or hips, and often increases when you move quickly, go from sitting to standing, cough, or laugh. To alleviate round ligament pain, try switching positions or propping up your feet to rest for a while. It might also help to simply slow down your movements to give those ligaments more time to adjust. I found that counter pressure and massage helped.
I saved the best for last…
Gender Ultrasound: Anywhere between 15 and 20 weeks, your OB will offer a gender ultrasound. It’s a very common practice nowadays to do a gender reveal party, which is fine, but Neil and I chose to find out just the two of us during the ultrasound. I suggest holding off all baby shower registering and nursery planning until after you find out. And even possibly after your ultrasound appointment following your gender ultrasound. I’ve heard far too many stories where they think they see something, or don’t see something, and the next time they look, there it is! Old wives tales are just that – old wives tales – and they are not to be trusted. For example, the spinning/swinging ring over my stomach AND the Chinese gender predictor chart both said I was having a girl. They tend to check at every ultrasound and trust me, there’s a boy in there 😉
Enjoy learning about pregnancy and your body? Next Wednesday I’ll be detailing the third trimester! Stay tuned!