Your Second Trimester

Your lifestyle

By the end of the third month, many women feel a burst of energy and emotional well-being. This is often called “the golden period of pregnancy.” Take advantage of that energy by getting some things done while you feel like it. For example, now may be a good time to begin looking for a pediatrician for your baby, preparing the nursery and looking for childbirth classes. If you plan to return to work or school after your baby is born, start looking now for a good sitter or child care center for your baby. You’ll want to refer to the Better Beginnings section later in the book for more information on child care choices. 

Don’t forget to take time for yourself:

  • Take time to relax and enjoy your pregnancy. 
  • Start a journal to record your thoughts about your baby and motherhood. 
  • Pamper yourself in simple ways, such as having your partner rub your feet, spending time with a good book or sitting on the porch and watching the sunset. 

Healthy fish and broccoli dinnerEating well

During pregnancy, you will need more iron and protein to nourish your baby’s growth. Protein is crucial, especially during the second and third trimesters. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy your blood volume expands to accommodate changes in your body and help your baby make his entire blood supply – doubling your need for iron.

If you don’t get enough iron, you may become fatigued and could be more susceptible to infections. The risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight also may be higher.

  • Eat lean meats, dried fruits, beans and green leafy vegetables like spinach for iron. 
  • Find good sources of protein such as, fish, chicken, lean meat, peanut butter, beans, peas, eggs and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. If you eat fish for protein, choose fish that are low in mercury, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon and catfish. 
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables to protect yourself against harmful chemicals. 
  • Use salt in moderation.
  • Drink plenty of water. 
  • Continue taking your prenatal vitamins.
  • Avoid spicy foods to help prevent indigestion and heartburn. 
  • Eat foods such as ice cream or chocolate in moderation. 
  • Choose low-fat foods, such as low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. 

If you crave ice, clay, dirt, laundry starch or other non-food items, tell your doctor right away. These cravings may indicate health concerns.

Your body

You’re probably beginning to look pregnant now and should expect to gain about 4 pounds a month until delivery. Maternity clothes may be a comfortable choice when waist extenders like rubber bands just don’t do the trick anymore. Other changes you may experience include:

Increased urination. As your uterus grows, it begins to push on your bladder, causing you to use the bathroom more often. 

Larger breasts. The milk-producing glands inside your breasts are getting larger.

Dizziness. Low blood pressure can make you feel dizzy when standing. 

To relieve dizziness:

  • Drink more fluids. 
  • Rise slowly from sitting or lying down. 
  • Lie on your left side to restore your blood pressure.

Skin changes. Sunscreen is critical since your skin may become more sensitive to the sun. 

Stretch marks. There is no avoiding these streaks, but they will fade eventually. Use moisturizer or vitamin E oil if they itch.

Urinary infection. If you find you are urinating more often than usual, have a burning sensation when urinating or have a fever, abdominal pain or backache, call your doctor right away.

Vaginal discharge. A thin, white vaginal discharge is normal. Call your doctor if your discharge has a strong odor, turns yellow or green, or causes redness or itching.

Nasal and gum problems. The lining of your nose and airway may swell as more blood flows through your body’s mucous membranes. This may lead to snoring, congestion and nosebleeds. Increased blood circulation also can soften your gums, which may cause minor bleeding with brushing or flossing. Proper care and regular cleaning are important because studies show that women with gum disease may be at higher risk for preterm births and babies with low birth weight. Some dental insurance policies have special benefits for pregnant women, so be sure to check with your insurance provider or human resources department at work. 

Woman brushing her teethTo protect your teeth and gums:

  • See your dentist regularly for scheduled cleanings, and call if you have any tooth pain or problems with your teeth between cleanings. 
  • Brush teeth and tongue twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and use dental floss regularly. 
  • Use a softer toothbrush to help lessen irritation.
  • Take Vitamin C and B-12 for good oral health and rinse with an antiplaque, fluoride mouthwash if brushing causes nausea.


Braxton-Hicks contractions may occur in the 3rd trimester. Sometimes referred to as “false labor,” this is simply your uterus getting ready for the real labor to come. Unlike true labor, Braxton-Hicks contractions aren’t painful and don’t get stronger and closer over time. Contact your doctor if your contractions become regular or painful. This may be a sign of preterm labor.

Gestational diabetes

This condition can be identified through a blood test. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and effectively use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, blood sugar (glucose) cannot leave the blood, be digested  and be changed into energy, so it builds up to high levels. There are no outward signs of gestational diabetes, so every pregnant woman is tested for it toward the end of the 2nd trimester. Pregnant women who have never had diabetes but who have high glucose levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes does not cause birth defects, but it can lead to infant death. It also can cause complications at delivery. Your baby stores the extra energy as fat, causing the baby to be unusually big. Wider shoulders and bigger overall size can cause serious birth injury to both baby and mother. 

Gestational diabetes is usually managed through diet, exercise and monitoring blood glucose levels several times a day. If blood glucose levels remain high, you may need to take insulin injections or an oral medication. 

Some women are at higher risk (African-American, Hispanic and Native American women, women older than 30, women who are obese or have a family history of diabetes). For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy. 


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