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Second trimester

Stages of pregnancy | First trimester | Second trimester | Third trimester

During the second trimester, your pregnancy will start to show. You will become more aware of the changes happening to your body. Support and encouragement from your partner and others around you will become more important. For many, morning sickness and fatigue ease up.

Although women’s experiences vary widely, many women find that their desire for sex increases during the second trimester. Increased bloodflow to the sexual organs and breasts, which heightens sensation, and less fatigue and nausea, make many women enjoy sexual activity more during these months.

In the second trimester, you will feel the fetus moving and you will become more aware of its development. You may begin to have vivid dreams about your child.

Expect the following physical changes:

  • The uterus grows to your navel between 20 and 22 weeks.
  • You will have colostrum (pre-milk) in your breasts.
  • Your nipples may begin to get darker and the areolas will get larger.
  • You may experience changes in the foods your body can digest.
  • Pressure on the blood vessels in the lower part of your body increases and may result in hemorrhoids, varicose veins and other discomforts.
  • You may notice your skin changing, particularly on your face. For example, dark splotches may appear on your forehead and cheeks, especially if you are a woman of colour. The medical name for this is chloasma. These will fade after the birth, but may not disappear completely. People may also tell you that you have a “glow” about you – this is caused by your increased hormone levels and increased bloodflow.

During the second trimester, the fetus continues to grow and begins to respond to its environment. This is what is happening:

Fourth Month (13-16 weeks)

  • strong heart beat begins
  • lanugo, or fine body hair, develops

At the end of the fourth month, the fetus is about 6 inches long and weighs four ounces.

Fifth Month (17-20 weeks)

  • heartbeat can be heard with a stethoscope
  • finger and toe nails form
  • sucks thumb
  • responds to noise
  • grows hair and eyebrows
  • movements become increasingly vigorous

At the end of the fourth month, the fetus is about ten to twelve inches long (half its length at birth) and weighs eight ounces to one pound.

Sixth Month (21-24 weeks)

  • eyes are open
  • a creamy substance, called vernix, covers the skin
  • skin is wrinkled and the fetus appears very thin

At the end of the sixth month, the fetus is about 11 to 14 inches long and weighs 1½ pounds. The placenta and umbilical cord are now fully developed and continue to increase in size. By the fourth month, eight gallons of blood flows through the placenta each day. More than a pint of amniotic fluid is usually present by the sixth month.

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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital