Today marks my first tentative steps into the third trimester of pregnancy and I can already feel an (unexpected) sadness creeping in. You see, it’s time to wave goodbye to my second trimester – a time that I’d fondly dubbed the ‘golden days’.
My second trimester was, thankfully, a breezy time – one marked by limitless energy and warm autumnal evenings – and a time when growing another human felt, dare I say it, oddly easy.
As many had reassured me, I found the second trimester to be incomparably better than the hideous first trimester. I was able to ‘drop’ my afternoon nap, I had excellent hair and skin, and my small and easily manageable bump didn’t stop me from doing things like trying to get my socks on.
However, as I now creep closer to my final 12 weeks, I can already feel my body losing its second trimester ‘shine’; a bit like a new bike that’s been out in the rain for too long. Feeling a little more sluggish and slow, and with a bit more time on my hands, I thought I’d take the time to put my feet up and reflect on my last 14 weeks of pregnancy.
So, and if you don’t mind indulging me a little, here are my thoughts on the second trimester of pregnancy (before I begin my desperate waddle towards the finish line).
My Truths of the Second Trimester of Pregnancy
Am I Still Pregnant?
Once the nausea and fatigue of the first trimester finally came to an end (around week 15-16), I abruptly felt very ‘un-pregnant’.
Although my 12 week scan had shown a little baby wiggling inside of me, I neither felt, nor looked, pregnant. Back to my morning runs in my usual Lululemon pants, and still popping on my high-waisted jeans, there were days when I almost forgot I was pregnant.
Was it possible the baby had just evaporated? Had I somehow digested it? Had an unknown second baby engulfed them both?
On reflection, this was actually a slightly disconcerting time. With no bump, no kicks and no first trimester symptoms to reassure me the baby was still swimming around inside of me, I found this limbo stage to be a little bit anxiety-inducing.
Rest assured, however, that this paranoia doesn’t last too long. I was treated to hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time the day after my birthday, (my 16 week midwife appointment) and soon after began to feel little kicks and flutters (a lot like wind, but without the usual result).
2. Kicks, Twists and Nudges
The exact week that you’ll feel your baby move for the first time varies vastly between pregnancies. For those with an anterior placenta (meaning the placenta is attached to the front wall of your uterus), feeling these movements or kicks can come much later on. This is because the placenta is acting as a mini ‘cushion’ between you and the baby.
However, as I (apparently) have a posterior placenta (attached to the back of the uterus), I felt my little foetus move fairly early on.
At around week 15, I began to experience very small ‘taps’ towards the bottom left of my uterus. It was a little like feeling a bubble moving around inside of you – but one that never pops.
This feeling quickly progressed to solid kicks at around week 18 and I don’t think the baby has stopped moving since. In fact, I think she spends her entire existence attempting or plotting her escape from the confines of my womb.
As people will tell you, feeling your baby kick for the first time is exciting, but I also found it (and still do) to be completely mind-bending.
This is particularly when she moves her whole body rather than gives a simple kick. During these somersaults, my stomach looks like a scene from the film ‘Alien’; contorting and shifting as she bustles around my womb.
Even now, if I overthink the fact that there’s a baby – the size of a lettuce – moving around inside of me, I have to take a few deep breaths.
Pregnancy is weird.
3. Full of Beans
After 12 weeks of intense fatigue during my first trimester, I felt like I’d undergone a spiritual and physical rebirth as I entered my second trimester of pregnancy. Waving goodbye to my 10am naps and 7.30pm bedtime, I was full of energy again – and keen to make the most of it.
Indeed, the second trimester is a time to get things done in both your work and personal life. With a renewed sense of purpose and focus, the second trimester (for me) has been one of intense work, vaguely frantic organisation and getting myself mentally prepared for motherhood.
I’ve used this time to finish organising my house before our house move, complete a hypnobirthing course, exercise regularly, make endless lists of what we need to buy for the baby and generally feel like I’m getting my life in order.
As a Virgo, this has been an immeasurably pleasing time.
Rumour has it, the third trimester may see an unwelcome return of naps, early nights and a fuzzy brain, so I’m glad I crammed so much in.
If there’s one stereotypical symptom of pregnancy that I’ve fully experienced and detested, it’s the dreaded heartburn.
Heartburn/acid reflux wasn’t a symptom that I was particularly concerned about when embarking on my pregnancy. Having experienced the odd bout of it after over-indulging on an Indian takeaway or after one too many drinks, heartburn was something – I thought – I had nailed.
It turns out that pregnancy heartburn, however, exists on an entirely different level to your average acid reflux; a bit like the Bride of Frankenstein.
An unwanted guest that joins me mostly at night, the heartburn (which is caused by your increasingly squashed stomach and hormones that relax your muscles and with it, your oesophagus), has haunted my sleep during my second trimester of pregnancy.
Ominously whispering to my husband one particularly bad night – “my oesophagus is eroding” – I now spend my nights propped up by my pregnancy pillow, with a pint of Gaviscon next to my bed. With the spoon long discarded, I swig Gaviscon in the depths of night like I’m enjoying a nice, cold pint of beer.
For those who are experiencing heartburn particularly badly, you can request for your doctor to prescribe you Omeprazole. I haven’t done this yet as the Gaviscon is mostly keeping my oesophagus intact, but it’s on high my list if required (and is something Laura now takes).
The NHS website has some handy tips on how to reduce the chances of heartburn. I find drinking a glass of milk before bed and peppermint tea in the morning can help to reduce the severity.
I’d also suggest avoiding pineapple, orange juice and too much sugar, unless, of course, you want your throat to feel like it’s been doused in bleach.
5. Pregnancy Growing Pains
Growing pains, a thing of your childhood and adolescence, make an unwelcome return during the second trimester of pregnancy. With your uterus and ligaments beginning to stretch and expand, I began to experience aches and pains around 25 weeks.
From niggling backaches, to an alarming feeling that my pubic bone is cracking in half, these pains have increased towards the end of the second trimester. Now glumly staring at my shoelaces, like long-lost friends that I can no longer reach, my body definitely feels heavier and more awkward to navigate.
I’ve found that using my pregnancy ball to sit on at night, while I’m watching TV, really helps me to ‘release’ my hips before bed. There are also plenty of Youtube videos and websites that can give you ideas on exercises to lessen back pain on the exercise ball.
I find that big circular motions are the best and stop me from slumping on the sofa. Not only does the sofa-slumping seem to aggravate my back, but it can also create a back-to-back ‘hammock’ for your baby, meaning they never descend into an optimum position for birth.
Additionally, Laura goes to antenatal pilates classes, which she says have been brilliant in helping keep ligaments loose, but her pelvic floor strong; all things that can help make pregnancy a little more comfortable.
6. Weight Gain?
With sickness a thing of the past, the initial second trimester was a time to rejoice in all the food and drink that I’d missed out on over the last 12 weeks. With hunger levels reaching fever-pitch most mornings, eating and drinking has taken up a lot of my time.
Initially, I wasn’t too worried about this as I’d lost quite a bit of weight during my first trimester. Recently, however, I’ve had to try and control it a little more and replace the chocolate with some healthier snacks (reluctantly).
The NHS advice is to gain around 1lb a week after you hit 30 weeks of pregnancy and I do try and use this as a guide. I don’t stress myself however, if I’ve put on a bit more or not gained what I need to. Remember, weight gain will be entirely personal to every lady and will depend on a whole host of factors – from your BMI prior to getting pregnant, to how much water you’re retaining. Keeping an eye on ‘your normal’ is therefore the best thing to do.
Recently, I’ve become slightly more careful with what I eat as I wait for my OGTT test for gestational diabetes. As our Dad is diabetic, I need to have this test as I’m marked as ‘higher risk’ of developing it during pregnancy.
Ultimately, however, every frame and body is different and the guidance to weight gain during pregnancy is just that, general guidance.
7. Pregnancy Insomnia
Night-time heartburn aside, my sleep during the second trimester has slowly deteriorated due to the common, but mysterious, curse of ‘pregnancy insomnia’.
Now finding myself peering into the darkness in the early hours, insomnia isn’t something I’ve previously experienced. Perhaps a mixture of discomfort from having to change my natural sleep position (you’re advised not to sleep on your back during the later stages of pregnancy), or maybe because my body is preparing itself for less sleep next year, insomnia is something that I’ve suffered from for most of my second trimester of pregnancy.
To try and combat this, I’ve brought my bedtime forward by an hour. As I seem to have no problem in falling asleep, I now try to cram in as much sleep before the early hours, when I tend to wake up.
Taking to social media to ask people’s advice on pregnancy insomnia, the most common suggestion or tip was to ‘break the cycle’ once you’re awake. That is to get yourself up and move about if you find yourself staring at the wall at 2am.
Seizing on this advice, I’ve found that it actually works wonders. Now, if I wake up in the night, I’ll take myself on a bleary eyed trip to the toilet, get a drink and put a podcast on. Some people did suggest reading a book, but I think this might be slightly too stimulating (mainly because I love reading).
I’ve found that once I’ve ‘broken the cycle’ and have got up and about, I more often than not drift back off to sleep again until morning.
8. Time for Maternity Wear
It was at around 20 weeks that I realised that my two pairs of maternity leggings were not going to see me through pregnancy. My high-waisted jeans were long since discarded and my t-shirts were morphing into crop tops.
It was time to apprehensively start exploring wider maternity clothing options.
As I mentioned in my post on my favourite ‘maternity clothing brands’, I feared that my wardrobe would soon be a collection of bold, flower-print wrap dresses or ‘easy access’ strappy tops, ready for breastfeeding.
Thankfully, after a bit of research, I’ve discovered plenty of fantastic maternity clothing brands and have really enjoyed dressing my ever-expanding bump. In fact, dressing your bump during your second trimester is really enjoyable.
Large enough to ‘dress’, but not too large to resort to your partner’s oversized t-shirts, a second trimester bump is one to show-off (even during lockdown, when nobody actually sees it).
Another unexpected and mysterious affliction of the second trimester of pregnancy has been snoring.
Really loud – vaguely disturbing – snoring.
A symptom that seemed to have been kept a deep, dark secret by my friends, it turns out that the snoring is due to increased blood flow and the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose. In fact, it’s so common that 1 in 3 women will experience snoring during pregnancy.
Waking myself up with the distant ring of a snort, I’ve not found this a huge issue during pregnancy but sadly, my husband feels very differently. Scurrying off in the night, he’s actually handled the issue very diplomatically; only recently telling me the reason he can’t sleep is due to my Darth Vadar-esque breathing.
As well as snoring, I’ve also suffered from blocked sinuses and ears: all due to a strange mix of hormones and increased blood flow. For those who suffer with nasal congestion for more than six weeks during pregnancy, you’ll find yourself diagnosed with Pregnancy Rhinitis. Unfortunately, you can’t just grab a steroid nasal spray to solve it, but will instead need to see a GP to discuss alternatives.
For me, I’ve chosen to embrace the snore. As with many of the bizarre pregnancy symptoms, I’m sure it’ll fade when the baby’s finally born.
10. Getting to Know Your New Best Friend
Amongst the snoring, heartburn and insomnia, is, of course, the chance to feel like you’re really beginning to get to know the tiny human inside of you.
I found this ‘bonding’ really kicked in after our 20 week scan, when we discovered the wiggling foetus was, in fact a wiggling girl. Once I knew this and we had picked a name (which we now refer to her by), I’ve found it much easier to bond with the little life inside of me.
Over the course of the second trimester of pregnancy, I’ve moved from feeling very ‘un-pregnant’ with little, to no, relationship with the baby, to ending the trimester chatting to her by her name. From telling her off when she’s wiggling on my bladder, to playing her classical music (she will be a child genius), I now feel like we have a developing relationship.
From this respect, and despite the unpleasant symptoms still to come (hello, piles), I’m really looking forward to seeing what the third trimester brings.
I’ll keep you updated.