The 2nd trimester: weeks 13 to 27 (or is it 26? 28? does it really matter?!)
There’s always some inconsistency when it comes to the definition about the end of the second trimester… some entities claim that it goes up to 26 weeks, another 27, 28… well, I just decided to follow the guide that seems to be more aligned with the end of the 6th month (and really, does it really matter that much?!).
When I started writing this post I had 25 weeks (closer to 26); my belly was stretching even further these last weeks and I couldn’t help thinking how??how is it possible to grow even bigger than this?!! (despite the tension I felt on the skin, gladly no stretch marks appeared!)
Anyway, the truth is that this trimester is actually amazing: you start to feel your little one, belly is out and not too big yet, symptoms/discomforts tend to get easier to tolerate (well, in most cases, I know we all have different experiences – I did! I´ll tell you all about it in this post) and you start to feel an unconditional love and need to prepare to that special moment when you welcome your new family member.
I have tried to make the most of this trimester, taking it easy as much as possible; I did have moments of uncertainty, when fears arose, painful moments or nights with some agitation. Just something we have to learn to deal with when pregnant – it is normal to feel like this. Most importantly is that I did all I could to ensure a safe & peaceful pregnancy, despite ups & downs, reaching that balance that allows the baby to grow in a healthy way and that allows the mother to explore her potentials and grow with it!
HEALTH COACH TIPS
So, from my experience in this second trimester I can share with you some tips to enjoy this lovely phase as easily as possible – remember that all pregnancies are different, which makes them so unique! The most important thing is to enjoy the journey and all those moments of happiness that you will feel, I can guarantee you that! 😊
- Let’s start with HEALTHY EATING & NUTRITION:
- Expected increase in calorie intake: 250-350 Kcal/day.
- Proteins: plus 8 – 10 gr/day; pasteurized dairy products, well-cooked white/red meat (caution risk of toxoplasmosis), fish, eggs and legumes (beans, lentils, etc).
- Healthy carbohydrates vs. “cravings”: avoid quick-absorbing sugars and pastries/crackers and biscuits. Opt for the whole grain versions for at least 50% (whole grain oats are easy to find and easy to use!), eat more fresh fruit and nutritionally dense foods (to avoid those cravings – see some infographics here)
- Folic acid (vit B9): remains 400 to 600 mcg/day; however, if you can maintain a varied diet in fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes supplementation is not essential this trimester.
- Iodine: Your obstetrician will prescribe 200 mcg/day. Important for the cognitive development of the baby.
- Omega 3: Recommended if you have a vegan/vegetarian and/or restrictive diet (ex. cutting out fish and other seafood, seeds and nuts or dairy products from grass-fed animals)
- Vitamin C: plays a key role for its antioxidant activity and promotes iron absorption; allow some space to include oranges, kiwis, strawberries and green leafy vegetables.
- Vit. D: I suggest doing a blood test and only then, reinforcement with supplements. Moderate daily sun exposure is advised; unless you live in northern countries, therefore you may be advised to supplement without any blood work.
- Calcium and Magnesium: for the development of the fetus and avoid cramps and risk of pre-eclampsia; supplementation in case of veganism? Maybe not, if you have a varied diet with fortified plant-based options, diverse nuts and seeds and whole grains.
- Iron: supplementation may not be necessary, unless you have anemia and restrictive diets regarding sources of protein (ex. exclusion of animal products).
- Brewer’s yeast: very complete re B. vitamin complex; can be added to soups, guacamole (love!), yogurt, smoothies, etc.
- Weight gain, if you have a normal BMI, could be 0.4kg per week in this second trimester. Personally I just noticed in the belly, the rest remained until now. Read this post for a better understandment regarding expected weight gain during pregnancy.
2. Next, a SAFE HERBALISM/PHYTOTHERAPY :
ALWAYS under the guidance and supervision of a specialist. Although these plants are already studied in pregnancy, caution is needed in their use to avoid poisoning or any danger to mother and fetus/baby. Let´s start with the SAFE ones:
- American cranberry – prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.
- Roman-Chamomile – used for muscle spasms, insomnia, anxiety, ulcers, hemorrhoids and digestive problems; safe in moderate doses!
- Senna leaf extract – laxative properties; for sporadic use only.
- Valerian root – relief of mild symptoms of mental stress, anxiety and in the treatment of sleep disorders. Its effectiveness is based on its long tradition of use, confirmed by studies that demonstrate its added value in its use.
The NOT ADVISED bunch:
- Goji berries – despite presenting very promising pharmacological properties, during pregnancy it is not recommended to eat them regularly due to the presence of betaine, which can cause miscarriage.
- Ginkgo Biloba – increases risk of bleeding. Absolutely not advised!
- Red Vine Leaf – despite its action on the proven circulatory system, safety in pregnancy is still to be determined (mothers that are experiencing swelling should speak with OB/GYN before taking any herbal treatment for swollen legs).
3. For POTENTIAL DISCOMFORTS that arise during this trimester (remember that each pregnancy is unique, so explore even more about what’s going on in your body at this stage).
- Some should be expected and relatively easy-to-manage: watch video down below.
- Others, more significant, are signs of urgency and you will be safer if you see a doctor immediately: symptoms/signs such as vaginal bleeding or loss of fluid through the vagina, even if in small amounts, vaginal discharge with itching, burning or unusual smell, continuous and severe abdominal/pelvic pain, chills or fever above 37.8ºC, pain or burning when urinating or the presence of blood in the urine, persistent vomiting, severe or continuous headache, increased blood pressure, marked increase in weight in a short time and sudden swelling of the feet, hands or face.
My experience in the emergency room was related to a uterine fibroid that decided to ignite at week 19 and did not give me truce for days; I knew it was the fibroid – the pain was intermittent and local (right where it had been diagnosed on my fis scan). After attempting natural techniques to sooth the pain I had to go to the ER to check that everything was okay (we fled at 6 am from Spain towards the Maternity Hospital in Portugal where i am followed!); you develop concerns and fears due to lack of sleep, mind fog and uncertainties your baby is okay. The doctors saw that baby was safe, fibroid wasn´t going to hurt nor limit baby´s development and suggested that i should embrace the idea of getting used to this pain…Obvioulsy i disagreed: a mother without sleep and in constant pain can´t be good for the baby!! This worried me, but I was so tired I just thought about falling onto my bed asap!! In fact, what happened were two more days of moderate pain, belly band, paracetamol and rest. Then, poof! The fibroid is there, but it’s like it fell asleep… not aching, nor growing!
In relation to other discomforts, I can say that in my experience everything came down to two days of heartburn, heat intolerance (I have low BP, so Summer can be tough in hotter days), some dizziness and lightheadedness related to posture ( sitting or standing and when the baby settled in certain positions that puts more pressure on the larger blood vessels), frequent changes in position during sleep (due to muscle pain in the gluteal region – sacroiliac – which goes away with decompression and movement) and some stronger kicks from the baby!
NOW, don´t forget there´s more to it this trimester:
- Your second ultrasound around week 21; the first one my boyfriend couldn´t make it – poor thing – with this story of Covid and him working in Spain wasn´t easy to follow my apointments. Tis time we arranged a way for him to be present, and how excited he was!! I suggest you understand dates in a timely manner and if dad can watch!
- Consultations with a family doctor and OB/GYN – about 2 to3 appointments.
- Second blood work with OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) around week 24-26 – I thought it would it be worst the experience of drinking a high sugary drink, but the lemon flavor and the fact that it was fresh helped.
- Quick belly growth and, if you are like me, a very active baby!! This means that you should pay special attention to skin hydration/moisturizing and communication with your baby – yes, talking to your belly, listening to happy rythmic music, etc. For your skin try different products and see what works for you best: rosehip oil, sweet almond oil, aloe vera gel , coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, any good ointment with ceramides. Final advise is to avoid using just one of these throughout the pregnancy, best to use 2 or 3 different ones in similar intervals. Drink plenty of fresh water! If needed, you may use a collagen peptide supplement to support a healthy skin stretching.
- Time for walking, swimming and do some exercises like stretching and muscle strengthening (I suggest paying attention to the legs and arms). And remember to take a deep breath and pause regularly!
- Plan your vaccines in advance: may be seasonal flu vaccine, COVID-19 (I did my first dose at week 23; in addition to local muscle pain, all good; second at 26 weeks was tougher, but it only lasted one day!), whooping cough around 28-30 weeks or others required/advised. As my blood type is Rh- I was suggested several times to get the immunoglobulin for Rh factor to avoid blood incompatibilities (happens when the father is Rh +); in my case, fortunately, Tomas is also Rh -, which after detailed analysis of risks I decided to decline the vaccine. I discussed this matter with my OB, who agreed with me at last when i presented facts. Each case is a case, so I suggest you assess the need carefully if you are a pregnant Rh – (your partner may have a blood work to determine blood type if you are uncertaint).
In addition to these tips, there are websites that you can subscribe to just by adding your due date and email, and receive very curious information about each week you are in; I can recommend for example Mama Natural but there are more of course, just make a quick search on google.
If you’ve only just arrived to Semente´s website and are still planning to get pregnant or found out you’re pregnant a few days/weeks ago, take time to read my other posts on these two subjects – Natural Fertility Boost & 1st Trimester, what to expect – and talk to me to understand how you can optimize your body and mind for this graceful phase.