The second trimester of your pregnancy occurs in weeks 13 to 28. This stage is marked by a rapid development of your baby inside the womb.
Although the sickness and tiredness from the first trimester have worn off, there will still be some discomfort from the rapid changes that are taking place.
Here are some things to know that should guide you as you arrive at your second stop on the road toward your birth.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
During the second trimester, a CVS test may be ordered to check for chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. This is not a routine test. A CVS test involves a sample of the placenta being taken via a needle inserted through the abdomen into the cervix.
During your pregnancy, those hormones we discussed in the first trimester section will cause an increased production of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that colors your skin. Because the production of melanin during pregnancy can be erratic, getting a tan during this time can give your skin a “blotchy” or spotted look.
The melanin can increase the pigment (color) in areas across the middle of your face (sometimes called a ‘butterfly mask’), your breasts (causing the areolae to appear larger around the nipples), and any stretch marks.
These areas of unevenly pigmented skin usually disappear after the birth, but can be permanent.
The immunity comprising your baby’s defense can be very fragile. The viruses that cause rubella and chickenpox, parasites that cause toxoplasmosi or bacteria like listeria are able to breach your placentas defenses and may cause harm to your baby.
While it is likely that you have been vaccinated against rubella and probably have immunity to chickenpox, it is important to note what vaccines you have not received. Protecting yourself against bacteria-borne diseases like listeria by eating healthy and avoiding non-pasteurized dairy products is essential.
Also washing your hands regularly and any fruit and vegetables will add an extra layer of defense.
You may want to co-opt some assistance with the litter box also, as the parasite toxoplasma protozoa is found in animal feces.
Amniotic fluid is a pale yellow colored fluid that surrounds your fetus from the very first weeks of pregnancy. You may hear it referred to as the “water” because it is 99% water. It is also made up of salts, skin cells from your baby and traces of the vernix (the creamy coating on your baby’s skin).
During the second trimester, your doctor or fertility specialist may recommend an amniocentesis to examine your amniotic fluid. Not only does this test show chromosomal and genetic information about your baby, but your doctor is also able to see how much amniotic fluid is present.
A irregular amount of amniotic fluid (either too miuch or too little) could be, but is not definitively, a sign of abnormality with your baby.
Many women will choose to have the father of their baby as their birth partner. There are alternative options, however. A doula, for instance, is a caregiver trained to support you before, during and after the birth.
Doulas operate with the credo of “mothering the mother.” They have an understanding of the physiology of childbirth, but are primarily there for emotional support during and after the birth of your baby.
Doulas can be found online or by word of mouth. If you are interested in using a doula, ask your doctor of fertility specialist if they have any recommendations.
Breastfeeding and Nipple Shape
When it comes to breastfeeding, most nipples are just fine. If you have inverted nipples (the kind that sort of look like a dimple), they will usually ‘pop out’ if you help them with your fingers.
If your nipples are flat, it might mean you and your baby need a little more help and patience in the beginning to get a good ‘fix’. There are devices that you can buy to draw your nipples out during pregnancy.
Right in the middle of the process, the second trimester marks a time of big changes for you and your baby. Once you have come out of it, though, you are ready for the third and final part of the pregnancy that will lead you and your baby into its big debut.
Images obtained from kemh.health.wa.gov.au, womenshealth.gov