If you aren’t feeling joyful at the onset of trimester two, know that you do have both company and support even though you might feel alone. Whether it is ongoing sickness, a different physical discomfort, persistent depression/anxiety or concerning news about your pregnancy it’s so important to tell your provider that you are struggling. There is no need to feel shy about bringing these things up and so many resources are available; the only shame is when a patient suffers silently. With the right combination of support and treatments, it is very likely that we can help you start enjoying pregnancy a little bit more or start feeling stronger to cope with whatever challenges you face.
On the Inside
Your little one is a busy bee and sometime soon — usually around 18 weeks for a first-time mom, 16 weeks for an experienced mom — you will start to feel just how busy he is as he exercises his arms and legs, and learns to suck his thumb, yawn and make silly faces. His nervous system is starting to function which means he may respond to stimulus like your voice or music. While the baby in this article is a “he,” ultrasound imaging during this second trimester allows you to find out whether yours is a “he” or a “she.” Rest assured, even if you’re deeply hoping for one sex over the other, you will come to love the child you have.
While baby has a tremendous amount of growth still ahead, it’s fascinating to know that midway through trimester two, he essentially has all the working parts of a full-term infant. And, while we work hard to assure babies do not arrive as early as these middle weeks, many women feel another stage of relief after passing the 23rd week because babies have a chance of survival outside the womb at this point. That said, the vague cramping of early pregnancy should be long gone by now. Round ligament pain may be bothersome as the uterus stretches but as a precaution, remember that any painful cramping and certainly any cramping that is accompanied by bleeding or a change in vaginal discharge warrants an evaluation by your provider.
On the Outside
We just can’t stress enough the benefits of getting your body moving: improved cardiovascular health (have you noticed pregnancy-related shortness of breath yet? light exercise will help you tolerate this normal change better), increased energy, weight management, mood stabilization, low back strengthening to support your growing belly, preparation for the work of labor and the list goes on. If you can’t quite envision yourself in a prenatal yoga class or tackling a high altitude hike, you’ve still got dozens of simple options for exercise. Walk around the block, use the stairs, bend down and touch your toes a few times a day while you can still see them, do some gardening. Anything that feels like moderate exertion and doesn’t put you at risk of falling or getting hit in the abdomen is a step in the right direction. If you are chuckling at this paragraph because you’re a “die-hard” exerciser whom pregnancy hasn’t slowed down for a moment, the word “moderate” applies to you, too. Sure, we’ve all read about people who run marathons in pregnancy but it is not what’s recommended and, really, this pregnancy is a blip in your lifetime of fantastic fitness so tone it down for a few months and spend the extra time finding the perfect jogging stroller.
You’ll want to shore up your plans for childcare if you will be going back to work. This may seem like light years away but it can be difficult to find care with which you are comfortable. Take time to thoroughly interview people, check their credentials and references and see if you feel comfortable with them. If you’ll use a daycare facility, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using programs that have earned appropriate credentialing for expertise and cleanliness and can provide proof of caregiver education and background checks. While meeting the people who will help care for your child, it’s also a great time to start thinking about a pediatrician. You will not feel like doing these tasks at the end of the pregnancy and you will not have time to do them once baby arrives. Pediatricians are accustomed to being interviewed by parents are are happy to meet you (if they’re not, don’t use them to care for your child).
Finally, this is a great time to start formulating your hopes and goals for birth and to find a childbirth class that you’d like to attend. Though you likely won’t take the actual class until your third trimester, they can fill up so you’ll want to assure yourself a spot. Birth classes come in all shapes and sizes from a one day event that reviews signs of labor, helps you decide what to pack for the hospital and gives you a tour of the labor and delivery unit to more intensive weeks-long programs geared, generally, toward unmedicated birth. Whatever your personality, there is likely to be a childbirth class that not only meets your needs but that serves as an invaluable resource in getting you and your partner ready for the momentous occasion. We at P&M are here to help you have the birth that you envision and we are as thrilled as you are when all goes according to your plans. We also find that women can be deeply satisfied rather than saddened by a birth experience that does not go the way they had anticipated if their preparation includes intentional planning to find peace and joy in the arrival of a healthy child despite unexpected and perhaps disappointing changes in the delivery plan. As these visions start to take shape, you can close out the second trimester and look forward to your final months.