What to Expect During Your Second Trimester of Pregnancy • The Blonde Abroad


What to Expect 2nd Trimester

Whether you’re expecting a baby, reading up on all the things ahead of time, or you’re simply curious — I’ve been documenting everything throughout my pregnancy!

I shared all the details about what to expect during your first trimester of pregnancy, and now that I’m out of my second trimester, I’m dishing all the goods.

As an overall note, I felt MUCH better the second trimester after my nausea had passed and I got more into a groove. I nested in a big way, had my baby shower, and even went on a Cabo babymoon with my husband.

From what to expect to things to plan for and take care of — here’s all you need to know about the second trimester of pregnancy!

Things To Do During Your Second Trimester

Create Your Baby Registry

Start working on your baby registry — even if you don’t get gifted everything, use your registry as a shopping list for EVERYTHING you’ll need for baby.

There are SO many products out there, there is so much to learn, and everyone has a different opinion! It can be super overwhelming!

I began to research for hours on end about all the best smart baby gadgets and gizmos out there. And let me tell you, there are A LOT.

Have no idea as to what to include on your baby registry? Or maybe you’re even asking yourself what even is a baby registry?

Here’s my guide to creating a baby registry!

Start Thinking About the Nursery

This is also the time to order some of the big items!

It might seem crazy to start thinking about the nursery already, but some furniture can take months to be delivered. So, I would highly recommend researching some of the big items like a crib/bassinet, dresser, and rocking chair early in case they are back-ordered or won’t be restocked for a few months.

Pick a Baby Shower Date and Plan

…or ask friends/family to plan the shower for you! I had my backyard baby shower at 26 weeks but you can have it at any point!

Consider if you’d want to have it earlier (when you’re a bit smaller — you have time to purchase any remaining items after gifting) or later when you have more time to plan the shower and when your bump is bigger (for cute photos).

Plan for a Babymoon

We took our babymoon in Cabo when I was 27 weeks, which was the weekend after my babymoon so it felt special!

I liked the timing of it — it was like having a honeymoon after your wedding! That whole week I felt so loved and spoiled. It was technically the first week of my third trimester, but I’d recommend taking this trip anytime in your second! You’ll be feeling your best before week 26.

Consider Planning Something Special for Your Partner

The baby shower tends to be all about mom, so I planned a boys’ weekend in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico for my husband the weekend before my shower.

I think it’s important for both parents to feel loved and supported before the baby, so consider what your partner might want to do, even if it’s a weekend away on their own!

Consider Hiring a Birth Doula and/or Postpartum Doula

We are hiring a birth doula and a postpartum doula. Regardless of your birth plan, both means of support can be a game-changer in preparing you for birth and the weeks following. Depending on where you live and the demand, you may need to make this decision early on in your pregnancy.

We hired our birth doula at 22 weeks and her calendar was already nearly full. We hired our postpartum doula at 26 weeks and her availability was already quite limited.

We were on the fence about hiring someone for postpartum (PP) because we have family locally. But, in the end, we felt the investment would be invaluable to help us get into a groove and return to work without putting too much pressure on our family.

I’ll share more about doulas in the corresponding weeks later in this post!

maternity shot pregnancy second trimester

Things to Know for Your Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Your Second Trimester is Week 13-26 of Pregnancy

There are a lot of things you should be aware of, read up on, and be prepared for!

Pregnancy & Birthing Books/Courses

In the first trimester and pre-pregnancy, I was focused on reading fertility and pregnancy books. Everything was SO new to me then so I was even reading books on trying to conceive (TTC) once I was pregnant to make up for things I didn’t learn about pre-pregnancy.

In the second trimester, I moved on to books that were less about baby’s development and more about pregnancy and how it relates to my body and wellness. I then moved on to birthing courses.

Books:

  • Brain Health from Birth (I recommend this in the First Trimester, but it’s still worth reading if you haven’t yet)
  • Expecting Better: Breaks down lots of pregnancy wisdom into data-driven analysis. Ex. Can you drink wine/coffee while pregnant? Can you eat deli meats/sushi?
  • Nurture: This book can also be started in the First Trimester but I started it in the second. You can read it throughout pregnancy and postpartum as it covers everything from conception to parenting.

Courses:

I really tried to limit my birth anxieties and not sign up for every single birthing class I saw online. If you are aiming for a non-medicated birth, you may already have decided on a birthing method like hypnobabies.

Honestly, you can choose whatever course speaks to you. It doesn’t need to be a mainstream birthing method. If you connect with someone online, or if you find someone that offers courses locally, choose whatever is the best fit for you!

Online Birth Courses by MLN:

I know myself well and am planning for pain relief as soon as I want it. So, I signed up for a course by Mommy Labor Nurse—a Labor & Delivery nurse I’ve been following on IG since I got pregnant.

She offers three courses: Natural, Epidural, and C-Section so I signed up for the epidural course to get as much info as I can on what to expect.

Birth Plan

A birth plan is super important and can help you feel in control of something that will be completely out of your control.

My birth plan was done with my doula, but you can research some templates online to help you get started. Some things to consider researching and adding to your birth plan:

  • Advocacy: I am extremely shy when it comes to sticking up for myself, especially in the medical sense. SO much of what is routine in medical procedures during pregnancy and birth is actually totally optional. Research what procedures are done throughout pregnancy and at birth (eg. cervical checks, IVs, etc.) to decide what you are comfortable with for you AND baby. If you are worried about advocating for yourself, I’d highly recommend hiring a doula to help you with this.
  • Post-Birth: Cord clamping, placenta encapsulation, and procedures that are routinely done with the baby (circumcision, vaccines, etc.) are all things to research and decide what you want or don’t want ahead of time.
  • Induction, Pain Relief, and Emergency C-Sections: I find comfort in being educated on every possible outcome. I know that even though I am aiming for a vaginal birth (with ALL the pain relief I want), a C-Section is a totally possible outcome. So, I decided to not only take a course on birth with an epidural but inform myself about what happens in the case of an unplanned C-Section.

Helpful Tip

There are SO many resources online for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting online. I’ve NEVER followed so many IG accounts and it honestly can be overwhelming. But, I do find it super helpful to get bite-sized pieces of information where I learn something new every day.

None of these accounts are the end-all-be-all of information. AND, it’s important to recognize that not everyone on IG is an expert or even certified to be giving certain information. Some things with birth and parenting are intuitive, and I don’t mind getting tips from women who have simply done it before.

I don’t recommend making any medical decisions that might risk your or your baby’s health based on what you see on IG. Always talk to your doctor.

Here are some of the accounts I’ve followed:

Pregnancy & Birth:

Postpartum & Parenting:

Baby Lead Weaning/Toddler Eating:

Second Trimester of Pregnancy by Week

I suffered from extreme first-trimester nausea and exhaustion. Honestly, I was miserable. But, literally on the day I entered my second trimester, I felt better.

So many moms have described the second trimester as the honeymoon period and I definitely could relate.

I felt amazing throughout my second trimester.

I started to properly “show,” so I finally felt like I was out of this weird phase of not recognizing my body but also not looking quite pregnant. I got my appetite back and was excited about eating colorful food again (lol — there are only so many crackers and pieces of toast a girl can eat, right?). I also got my energy back so was able to be productive with work and around the house.

As I laid out at the beginning of this post — plan all of your trips, activities, and social things for this trimester! Trust me!

Weeks 13-17 of Pregnancy

13-Week Appointment

My first appointment in my second trimester was my nuchal translucency (NT) scan. This is usually performed between weeks 11-13 of your pregnancy so you may do this in your first trimester.

This test measures the size of the clear tissue, called the nuchal translucency, at the back of your baby’s neck.

Too much clear space can indicate Down syndrome or might show another chromosome abnormality like Patau syndrome or Edwards syndrome.

NIPT (Noninvasive Prenatal Testing)

I personally opted to have my NIPT done at 12 weeks (though you can usually do this between weeks 10-21 of pregnancy). It’s a simple blood draw that tests for chromosomal abnormalities (like Down Syndrome) and can also detect the sex of your baby.

From my experience, if you are under 35 years old, insurance may or may not cover this test. For genetic testing during the first trimester, my medical provider quoted me a flat $299 out of pocket. If you are 35 or older, you will most likely be encouraged to take the test and it will most likely be covered by insurance.

If this is something you want to do, talk to your OBGYN about your options at your first appointment.

16-Week Appointment

If you are having appointments every 4 weeks, you will likely have your first “second trimester” OBGYN appointment at 16 weeks.

Be sure to bring up any questions, comments, or concerns with your OBGYN.

What I Experienced at My 16-Week Appointment

  • Checking Heartbeat
    • Up until this appointment, every visit I had included with my OB involved an ultrasound. From this point forward, all of your visits will only be to check for the heartbeat with a doppler. This surprised me as I was so used to seeing my growing baby!
  • Flu Shot
    • This is completely optional but, depending on the time of year (in my case mid-winter), you may want to consider it at any point in your pregnancy when you are at higher risk.
  • Second-Trimester Bloodwork
    • I had a single tube drawn. This blood test is usually done between 16-18 weeks and it is done for genetic screening. This was the only blood work I had done (other than my gestational diabetes screening), which was a LOT less compared to the first trimester.

17-Weeks: Reflux

Remember how I said this was the honeymoon phase? Well, even honeymoons can have their hiccups. I felt mostly great, but I started experiencing reflux right around 17 weeks and it remained with me most days and evenings for the remainder of my pregnancy.

It’s very common and, in some cases, may require a prescription. I found relief by chewing a few Natural Tums and experienced instant relief.

I started using a pregnancy pillow at this stage in my pregnancy as well. It helped to elevate me slightly so my reflux wasn’t as bad at night and helped me to remain on my side while sleeping.

Natural Tums

Very necessary, very helpful.

Shop Now

Organic Pregnancy Pillow

I was on the fence about buying this, but no regrets here! Anything sleep-related, I’ll splurge on because we spend so much of our lives in bed. It’s also one of the only non-toxic pillows I could find!

Shop Now

 

Weeks 18-22 of Pregnancy

Anatomy Scan

 You will have a mid-pregnancy ultrasound (often called the anatomy scan) between 18-20 weeks.

I had mine at 19 weeks.

This ultrasound provides information about your baby’s health and well-being, including size and growth, the position of the placenta, the baby’s heart rate, the amount of amniotic fluid, and potentially the sex of the baby, etc.

We found out our baby was in the 98% percentile for size at this appointment (aka a giant baby), so a follow-up anatomy scan was scheduled for Week 30 in my third trimester to assess their growth.

20-Week Appointment

This appointment and most appointments following week 20 are quick and easy.

You will simply have the baby’s heart rate measured with a doppler and your “fundal” measurements done—a measurement of your belly from the top of your belly down to your pubic bone.

22-Week Appointment

I made a note that this was the week I started to properly look and “feel” properly pregnant. I shopped for my first maternity clothes and really enjoyed this stage in my pregnancy.

The linea negra (hormonal line on your tummy) also started to appear on my belly around this week.

Read More: Cute Maternity Outfit Ideas for the Stylish Mama

Birth Doula

I promised I’d share more info about a birth doula, so here’s why we chose to hire one!

A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.

While doulas are often hired by women who want to have an unmedicated birth, you can benefit from a doula no matter what birth you have planned. I always knew I’d want an epidural, but I know that I struggle with advocating for myself—especially in a medical environment.

A doula can help for so many reasons, but I was most interested in having a doula to help ensure our birth preferences were met in the hospital and I wasn’t pressured to do anything I don’t want to do.

How to Hire a Doula

I’d recommend looking for a DONA-certified doula. You can visit the DONA website to search for one in your area. As much as experience and certifications are important, I’d highly recommend speaking to multiple doulas to see who you vibe best with.

That personal connection is super important so that you feel super comfortable.

Cost & Length of Service

This really depends on where you live and what type of experience your doula has. Since we are in Southern California, you can imagine we are in one of the highest-cost areas in the country.

Our doula cost $2,000 and included unlimited text/email/call support throughout my pregnancy (as well as postpartum) and in-person support during labor as soon as I need it. Whether we need support while I’m laboring at home or she meets us at the hospital, she’ll be there to support us for the entire labor through birth (even if it’s 48 hours!).

It’s definitely a big expense, but something we budgeted for from the very beginning.

You can also pay for birth doula support using your Health Savings Account (HSA) or your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). YES! Under IRS regulations, you can pay 100% of a doula’s fee out of your HSA or FSA account!

Weeks 23-26 of Pregnancy

23 Weeks

Though I sometimes felt fluttering in previous weeks, this was when I really started to feel the baby moving and grooving.

I also had some random cramping which is normal as your uterus expands.

24-Week Appointment

Again, this appointment was easy.

You will simply have the baby’s heart rate measured with a doppler and your “fundal” measurements done—a measurement of your belly from the top of your belly down to your pubic bone.

Gestational Diabetes Screening

All women are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 26 weeks of pregnancy.

Since our baby was measuring big, my OBGYN wanted me to do a 2-hour glucose test (instead of the normal 1-hour test) to screen for gestational diabetes.

What does this mean?

You fast for 11-hours, have blood drawn (pre-sugary beverage), drink a sugary beverage, wait one hour, have blood drawn again, wait another hour, and have blood drawn yet again.

After that, I drove straight to get a breakfast burrito.

The normal Glucosa drink they give you is pretty gross and full of artificial yuckies. The Fresh Test is an FDA-approved natural option you can use instead of the typical Glucosa drink.

I’d recommend getting approval from your provider/OBGYN ahead of your test. Unfortunately, the UC system (where I have my provider) is very strict with lab procedures and I couldn’t use it — but I hope that others can! It’s a way better option, in my opinion.

If you also have to drink the Glucosa option provided in the labs, opt for the clear one to avoid less artificial colors.

baby shower san diego backyard gender neutral balloon arch

Baby Shower

We had my baby shower when I was 26 weeks pregnant. I honestly think having it anytime in your second trimester is ideal!

While there is no “right” time to have a baby shower, it’s common to have a baby shower anywhere from one month to three months before the baby’s due date. After the 20-week mark is a good bet…but not too late, or the little one may be attending the shower!

For me, 26 weeks felt perfect. I was looking pregnant but not feeling TOO pregnant. I also wanted to have mine early enough so that I had time to shop for anything that I didn’t receive off my registry at the shower.

Keep in mind that many to-be parents like to have at least a few weeks of cushion to unpack gifts, write thank you notes, wash new clothes and finish setting up the nursery.

My Gender-Neutral Backyard Baby Shower in San Diego

If you’re looking for baby shower ideas — from baby shower decorations to baby shower games — I’m sharing all the details of my gender-neutral backyard baby shower in San Diego!

Read More

Babymoon

Most people find the second trimester to be the best time to travel because the morning sickness is (typically) behind you and you’re still comfortable enough to get around.

And that’s what we chose to do!

I am due in mid-June and we took our babymoon in mid-March, at 27 weeks pregnant. Being based in San Diego, I particularly liked the idea of a short, 2-hour, direct flight down to Cabo, Mexico.

We were able to take advantage of Esperanza’s “Hola Bebé” babymoon package, and it exceeded our expectations—as you plan your babymoon, definitely look to see if the resort or hotel has any packages or offers available like this!

I’ve got a bunch of recommendations for babymoon destinations in the US and international babymoon destinations.

Our Babymoon at Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection in Cabo

My husband and I celebrated our little one and our last few months of being just “us” with a babymoon in Cabo at Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection! We were able to take advantage of their “Hola Bebé” babymoon package, and it exceeded our expectations.

Read More

Postpartum Doula

Why We Hired a Postpartum Doula

In addition to a birth doula, we hired our postpartum doula at 26 weeks.

Also referred to as a night nurse, night nanny, or newborn care specialist, a postpartum doula helps new parents during the first weeks with their new baby.

The doula usually arrives for a night shift (ex. 9 PM – 6 AM) that usually involves a range of duties like feeding the baby or bringing the baby to a parent for breastfeeding, changing diapers, and getting the baby back to sleep.

They’ll also usually clean bottles and pump parts, and many will do baby laundry. They can do even more in terms of housework, including family laundry and dishes, and even help with meal prep.

The main reason we hired a postpartum doula, besides clean dishes and laundry, is to get more sleep in those first weeks.

I’m sure one of the main things you’ve heard about a newborn is how little sleep you get. Getting good sleep can lower the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety, improve your health, and better your breastmilk supply, among other things.

Cost & Length of Service

You may only want/need a doula a few times a week. You may want help from the day you get home from the hospital or a few weeks later. It’s really up to you! We are hiring our postpartum doula for 8 weeks.

Here’s how we are structuring her schedule:

She will start on week 3 after birth. We want a couple of weeks alone as a family to get our groove but figured the sleep deprivation would be well underway by then and we’ll be very ready for the help.

For 2 weeks, she will come 2x per week then, for 6 weeks, she will come 3x per week.

One of the benefits of a night doula is helping with getting the baby on a sleep schedule and cutting out night feedings when it’s appropriate. With a night doula, you can focus on feeding the baby and getting help with the rest of the things in the house while you get more sleep.

Some families only want help for a few weeks while some may opt for help for up to 12 weeks or longer. Their rates typically range between $25 and $45 per hour, but some can charge as high as $80 per hour.

I’ll be sharing the third installment — aka the third trimester of pregnancy in the coming months…after I’ve given birth.

Stay tuned!

Are you currently pregnant or do you have anything to report from the second trimester of pregnancy? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!





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