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Second Trimester Of Pregnancy

Second Trimester Of Pregnancy

Alternate Names

  • middle prenatal period


Pregnancy is the process of childbearing. Measured from the start of a woman's last normal menstrual period (LMP), it usually lasts about 40 weeks or roughly 9 calendar months.

What is the information for this topic?

During the second trimester, continuing growth and development in mother and unborn child cause many changes to occur. Women may notice:
  • the abdomen begins to swell. By the end of the second trimester, the uterus is near the rib cage.
  • the skin on the abdomen and breasts stretches. Stretch marks may be visible.
  • movements made by the baby. Known as quickening, this often occurs sometime around weeks 16 to 20.
  • a dark line forming from the navel down the middle of the abdomen
  • brown, uneven marks on the face or other changes in skin pigment
  • darkening of the area around the nipples
Often, the second trimester delivers a welcome energy boost to women and an end to morning sickness. It may also bring:
  • nasal congestion and occasional nose bleeds
  • whitish vaginal discharge
  • less of a need to urinate often
  • constipation
  • increase in appetite
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions in which the uterus becomes hard and tight and then relaxes
  • leg cramps
  • backache
  • fatigue
In the unborn child:
  • growth continues quickly from now until birth
  • organs such as the heart and kidneys develop further
  • eyebrows and fingernails form
  • the skin is wrinkled and covered with fine hair
  • periods of activity and quiet occur as the baby moves, kicks, sleeps, and wakes
By the end of the second trimester, the unborn child is about 11 to 14 inches long and weighs about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. It can swallow, hear, and urinate. Miscarriage is rare at this time unless there are specific medical conditions for the mother or baby.
However, women sometimes have other problems in the second trimester, including:
  • high blood pressure, which may be a sign of preeclampsia
  • sugar in the urine. This may be a sign of gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes associated with pregnancy.
  • iron-deficiency anemia
Each month during the second trimester of pregnancy, the healthcare professional will check:
  • the mother's height and weight
  • the baby's heartbeat
  • the size, shape, and height of the uterus
  • any swelling of the mother's hands and feet


Planning for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond. Second Edition, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

What to Expect when You're Expecting, Eisenberg

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