Welcome to your second trimester! (Or better yet, congratulations on making it out of your first trimester alive!) This phase of your pregnancy is commonly viewed as the best part of being pregnant. Women usually feel more energized, the nausea has typically subsided by now, and you actually start to look like you legitimately have a baby in your tummy!
That being said, there are some aspects of the second trimester that you may not be aware of. Since I'm currently writing this article while in my 3rd trimester, my memory is still vivid (and not clouded by the warm and fuzzy feelings of having a new born baby, which seems to magically erase negative memories) so I'll share with you my own personal experiences and fill you in on what to expect!
First Fetal Movements
This is by far one of the most exciting moments of pregnancy! The first few months of pregnancy I was in a bit of disbelief. I would think to myself, "Okay... so, I'm 'supposedly' pregnant" but, I felt like I was lacking real evidence or validation. With only the positive pregnancy test and the ultrasound photos to go by, for me, there was still this feeling of disconnect, and it not being really REAL yet. But once you feel your child move inside you... everything changes! I won't lie... it was really weird in the beginning (like a scene from the movie 'Alien' lol). I felt the baby move for the first time at 16 weeks and to describe the feeling I would say that it was just the tiniest little 'flick' or 'poke' sensation down near my pubic bone. I remember thinking it felt like a little chicken bone poking me from the inside out. Gradually these movements become more noticeable and stronger as the baby grows. My husband couldn't feel the baby until later in the 2nd trimester. These sensations become your daily affirmation that baby is healthy and doing well!
*I was a bit anxious early on so I invested in a fetal doppler ($55 Angel Sounds Fetal Doppler) so I could hear the babies heart beat and reassure myself that 'baby' was OK. It was at about week 13 when I could first hear the heart beat (some women don't hear it till later on, so if you can't hear it right away ladies don't panic!). These little heart beats were so wonderful to hear and so reassuring as a nervous, newly pregnant woman. The heart beat is so fast it sounds like a tiny bird having a heart attack lol. I highly recommend investing in a doppler!
Looking Legit: Hello Baby Bump!
Congratulations on finally getting your baby bump! It took me a while to actually start "looking" pregnant (around week 17-20) but once it happened I was more than happy to accentuate my newest accessory! When you're first pregnant it feels like FOREVER before you actually start to 'look the part'. For a long time being pregnant was like this secret that no one knew about, and even for myself I would constantly feel in disbelief. There was nothing visual to reassure me that I was in fact pregnant... except that I felt like utter Crap-ola! (To make me feel better, my best friend said to me that feeling like crap was actually a good thing because it meant you had a healthy baby inside you messing around with your hormones. And it did make me feel better!) But once the belly started protruding it gave me this wonderful sense of validation and pride. I love my bump :) And as a pregnant woman I find that people in general tend to be a lot more friendly and helpful. It's pretty awesome!
*Enjoy that baby bump and have fun accentuating it with your new maternity fashion looks!
More Energy and Less Nausea
There are several reasons why women in general feel more energized and active in their second trimester. Usually by this time the nausea has subsided or gone away completely and with the first trimester anxiety and worries out of the way, chances are you'll be sleeping better at night too.
It took a long time for the nausea to subside for me but I felt a lot better by about week 15-17. I still felt tired and would have afternoon naps when I could, but overall I felt sooo much better. A few women in my prenatal class still had nausea well into their 2nd and 3rd trimesters but there are prescription medications that can help ease the suffering if you're one of these unlucky ladies.
*The 2nd Trimester is a great time to utilize your energy to prepare and get things done (& the best time to travel!) since your baby bump isn't big enough yet to be causing discomfort or decreased mobility.
Say Goodbye to your Genitals!
Naturally once your belly bump starts getting bigger the areas 'below' get harder to SEE (and reach eventually). I haven't seen my genitals since Christmas. I had to learn how to 'blind shave' my bikini line which was really scary at first. It was like a my own personal version of "Edward Scissor Hands" staring Helen Keller. Now that I'm in my 3rd trimester I just don't care anymore what it looks like 'down there'. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Mysterious Lady Bits". My lady bits are so mysterious these days that if they had their own T.V. show it would be called 'Ancient Civilizations'. The show would feature an archaeological team of expert researchers who are embarking on a treacherous mission to explore a vast and frightening ancient ruin (aka. my vagina). Not everyone would make it out alive.
Intimacy (aka. Awkward Pregnant Sex)
While we're on the topic of 'Genitals', let's discuss the intricacies of "Pregnant Sex" as well as learning how to maneuver around your big belly.
I don't think you've really experienced the full and vast definition of the word "Intimacy" until you've attempted to have 'pregnant sex'. I don't even know that "Intimacy" is really even the correct word for it. At this point in the game, there are no more secrets between you and your husband. Everything is really 'OUT' there... all of it... Boom!... Out there. There is no where to hide... not even behind your big belly. 'Strategy' and 'Determination' basically take the place of 'Romance' and 'Sex Appeal'. It's like playing some awkward, naked version of the game Twister, where everyone is smiling and pretending to have fun, but in reality, no one is having any fun. There is no fun to be had. Within minutes hand and foot placements are slipping, muscle cramps are developing, and there's a slight trembling noted from increasing muscle fatigue... and that's just talking about the foreplay!
You basically end up trying every sexual position you never wanted to.
Unfortunately for me, our sliding, closet doors beside our bed are all mirrors. Even during my "slim days" where I felt really good about my body, I wasn't necessarily a fan of "seeing it" in certain compromising "predicaments".
One time during "pregnant sex" I accidentally glanced into 'The Mirror of Shame' at the wrong moment and now I'm afraid I'll be scarred for life. In the moment, I yelled out to my husband, "Oh Lord! It looks like your mounting a house!" And my husband's immediate response came out like a warning cry, "Look the other way!".
*For 'pregnant sex' I recommend pillows. Lot's of pillows. Comfort is essential! AND darkness... lot's of darkness. If you're newly pregnant, go out and buy black out drapes immediately.
All joking aside, being pregnant does change things in the bedroom, but if you and your partner spend a little time talking and strategizing, it's well worth the effort!
Once again, I have never just randomly found myself with a nose bleed but apparently it's quite common in pregnancy. After carrying a load of laundry upstairs one time, I felt a nostril trickle coming on, and after I wiped my nose, the tissue was full of blood. At first I was a bit startled and concerned but I quickly Googled searched "pregnant nose bleed" and was relieved to see that this was very normal. Our cardiovascular systems are going through a major overhaul in order to make and pump blood to the baby. We have a greater blood volume, higher blood pressure and (according to my family physician) our blood is thinner to prevent clots during pregnancy. Mix all that in with dry weather and Boom!... You've got a nose bleed!
*This only happened to me 3 or 4 times during the second trimester, and they stopped really quickly.
So... in the first trimester our boobs get bigger and really sore but, in the second trimester the nipples play catch up and start to take center stage (quite literally). Both my nipples and areolas got super huge and turned dark, dark brown. I used to have lovely, cute, little, pink, pencil eraser nipples. Now, I have these huge, marinated, Cremini Mushrooms for nipples. I honestly don't even know how they are going to fit inside my baby's mouth. My nipples seriously need to SETTLE DOWN. It's crazy. Apparently, the darkening of the nipples is to help the baby "see" and ultimately "find" the food source. I think by this point an infant over in Taiwan could "find" my food source.
*On a more positive note: by this point my breasts were no longer sore... and now in my 3rd trimester they're not sore at all :)
Round Ligament Pain
Early into my second trimester I noticed these sharp, stabbing pains intermittently in my lower abdomen, around my pubic area. At first I wondered if this was the baby poking or kicking me but it turned out to be Round Ligament Pain (very common!). Our uterus has two ligaments, one on either side, that anchor and hold the uterus in place. These ligaments are usually quite short in length but as the baby grows, and the uterus expands to accommodate the baby, these ligaments end up getting really stretched out. At times, the stretching of these ligaments can cause pain or discomfort. My experience with Round Ligament Pain was very brief and it only happened a few times in my 2nd trimester.
*Using a hot pack on my abdomen helped to soothe the area but if you're having persistent abdominal discomfort or feel like something's wrong, go and see your doctor immediately.
I had never had a day of heartburn in my life until my second trimester. It comes on fast and feels like a fiery inferno is crawling up your throat from your stomach. At first, I didn't know what I was experiencing (like I said, I had never had it before), so I naturally just drank a bunch of cold water. WRONG THING TO DO! Seriously, I don't understand how water could make it worse, but it does. I picked up a jumbo bottle of Tums (anticipating this was just the start of 'Heartburn Central' and trust me ladies, just go for the jumbo bottle... you'll thank me later!) and after taking two tablets the heartburn went away immediately! Hallelujah!
*Tums are also a great source of Calcium which is really important for your growing baby :)
So there you have it! I hope my experiences have been both educational as well as entertaining. Good luck on your exciting journey of 'Making a Baby' and I'll catch up with you soon on my follow up article illustrating the wonderful and magical world of the "Third Trimester"!