Pregnancy: What to Expect in Your Second Trimester (Weeks 13-26)

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Baby's Growth & Development in the Second Trimester

During your second trimester, (between 13–27 weeks gestation) the baby undergoes significant growth and development with the formation of vital organs, bones and features that prepare them for life outside the womb. Baby's toenails, eyebrows and hair start to grow. Teeth form under the gums, too. Hair starts to grow on their head and something called downy hair, medically known as “lanugo,” begins to cover baby's body.

You’ll start to feel your baby move now as well, as they can kick and turn over. Your baby will also start reacting to sounds.

At the end of your second trimester, baby typically weighs between 1.5–2.5 pounds and measures between 14–16 inches long. They’re about the size of an eggplant or cucumber. Keep in mind these are general estimates, and the actual size can vary among individual pregnancies.

Fetal Movement: Feeling Baby’s Kicks

One of the best ways to track your baby is to notice their movements. First baby movements are typically felt between 18–22 weeks of pregnancy but may be felt as early as 14 weeks. A baby kick feels like a flutter, bump or nudge. You may think they’re gas or hunger pains at first.

Healthy babies are typically very active, particularly after you’ve eaten and when you lie down. Evenings are also a peak time for baby movements. However, some babies may sleep quietly for as long as 60 minutes without moving.

While each baby will move at their own rate, babies will stop moving — or move slower — when they’re having trouble, aren’t getting enough oxygen or are under stress. Smoking, for instance, decreases the oxygen the baby gets and can slow a baby's movements for up to an hour or more.

The important thing is to know what’s normal for your baby. Once you reach the third trimester, let your provider know if you notice a change in your baby's movements.

Mother's Health: Pregnancy Changes in the Second Trimester

The second trimester often marks a break from some pregnancy symptoms but brings others along with it. During this stage, your baby belly is likely starting to show. You’ll also start to see changes in your breasts and may experience some nipple and/or vaginal discharge. As your body starts to transform with your growing baby, here’s what to expect and when to call a doctor.

Breast changes

Your breasts will likely increase in size and become firmer and tender in the second trimester. Wear a supportive bra to ease the strain on your back. The brownish area around the nipple (areola) becomes darker, and you can see small bumps. Breasts need no special care while pregnant. It’s important to know that nipple stimulation can cause uterine contractions and, at times, lead to contractions that aren’t normal.


Feeling faint is normal while pregnant. It may be from staying in one place too long, or when you change from lying or sitting to standing up.

At-home remedies to prevent feeling faint while pregnant:

  • When standing for a long time, bend your knees and move your legs often to increase blood flow
  • Move slowly when changing places
  • Sit with your head down or lie down on you left side when feeling faint
  • Always eat breakfast and don’t go too long between meals as low blood sugar is a rare cause for feeling light-headed or faint
  • Carry small healthy snacks to eat — this may ease the faint feeling
  • Try not to get overheated as high humidity, heat and fluid loss can also make you feel faint
  • Drink plenty of fluids when in a hot setting

When to call a doctor: If you’re consistently feeling faint, and these at-home remedies don’t work, call your provider right away.

Groin or round ligament pain

Round ligament pain is a sharp or jabbing pain often felt in the lower belly or groin on one or both sides. The pain should only last a few seconds. This pain may worry you, but it’s normal as your baby grows and your body changes.

Leg Cramps

Many women feel cramps in their calves and feet, mostly at night.

At-home remedy to prevent leg cramps:

  • Stand up on a flat surface, and try walking or curling your toes to free the cramp

When to call a doctor: If the cramp doesn’t release, and you have lasting pain, swelling or redness in your leg, call your care team as soon as you can.

Mental relaxation

During pregnancy, many women find they feel stress more easily than at other times in their lives. They may feel less in control, cry more easily and feel less patient with themselves and others. Toward the end of pregnancy, many women feel anxious. In labor, anxiety and stress can make the body tense and could affect the birthing process. It’s important for you to find ways to relax, reduce tension and get help when you need it.

At-home remedies for stress relief:

  • Find relaxing activities
  • Spend time with people who bring you joy and put you at ease
  • Find a time every day for something calming
  • Focus your breathing or repeating a word, phrase, prayer or sound

Nipple discharge (colostrum)

A yellowish or whitish fluid called colostrum may leak from the nipples. This is normal due to hormonal changes while pregnant.

Nosebleeds and nasal stuffiness

It’s normal for your nose and sinuses to feel stuffy while pregnant. It may feel like a lasting cold or allergy. There’s no set treatment, but an over-the-counter saline nose spray or drops may help.

Vaginal discharge

Increased blood supply and hormones cause your birth canal to intensify its normal secretions. Due to body changes, it may be easier for you to get yeast infections, too. Since a whitish vaginal discharge is normal while pregnant, good self-care is important.

At-home remedies to stay comfortable during increases in vaginal discharge:

  • Keep your underwear clean and dry
  • Wear a panty liner, if needed
  • Wear cotton underwear, or at least underwear with a cotton crotch, as it’s better than underpants made of man-made fiber
  • Bath or shower, but don’t douche

When to call a doctor: Call your provider if you have any vaginal discharge that looks yellow, greenish, thick and cheesy or has a bad smell, and you have pain, itching or burning.


Most women can work while pregnant. If you work, take your breaks, if you can. Try not to stand or sit for a long time. If possible, try to lay down for an hour when you get home. Leave your household chores until after you’ve rested. If someone is available to help you, such as a partner, parent, friend or neighbor, this is a good time to ask for assistance.

Some job duties can be harmful to baby:

  • Working with lead or mercury
  • Making paint, glass, batteries or ceramics; pottery glazing, printing
  • Working with radiation in an industrial, health care or dental setting

Talk to your employer if you believe there’s a health risk to you and baby during your pregnancy.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

How much weight you should gain during your pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI). Gaining between 25-35 pounds when pregnant is often considered a healthy range, unless your provider advises otherwise. You may feel hungry more often and experience food cravings when you’re pregnant, but if you’re eating nutritious food, your gain is not fat. Your provider will check your weight at each visit, and let you know if any adjustments should be made for your and baby’s health.

Here's a look at some of what the average weight gain for a pregnant woman consists of:

  • Baby: 7.5 pounds
  • Womb: 2.5 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2.0 pounds
  • Placenta: 1.5 pounds
  • Breast tissue: 1.0 pounds
  • Other fluids: 2.75 pounds
  • Other: 3.25 pounds

Most of this weight gain can be lost within three to six months after you give birth. Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day.

Signs of Early Labor

Pregnancy should last about 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. Babies born early may have more health problems and require a longer hospital stay. The earlier your baby is born, the more health problems he or she may have. If preterm labor is recognized in time, it may be possible to stop the labor or give you medicines that help baby’s lungs work better if he or she is born early.

Early warning signs of preterm labor include:

  • Cramps, like during your period, (constant or comes and goes)
  • Low, dull backache that comes and goes
  • Pelvic pressure (feels like the baby is pushing down)
  • Increased or different vaginal discharge (mucus-y, watery or blood-tinged)
  • Painful uterine contractions, four to five times in one hour; feels like the baby is “balling up” inside, your uterus feels hard, then soft
  • Leaking fluid
  • Diarrhea, nausea or indigestion

What to do if you experience signs of preterm labor:

  • Lie down on your side for an hour and drink 2-3 glasses of water or juice
  • Take two extra strength Tylenol
  • Soak in warm water in the bathtub for 30 minutes
  • If the symptoms go away, you can go back to light activity but not what you were doing before symptoms started

If you’re leaking fluid, symptoms get worse or stop and come back after an hour, call your provider immediately. If preterm labor is discovered early enough, it may be stopped, or there may be time for medication to help your baby breathe better before he or she is born.

Difference Between True and False (Braxton-Hicks) Contractions

Braxton-Hicks contractions:

  • An overall tightness or slight cramping in your abdomen
  • May be felt very high up, or you may feel them across the middle
  • Often brought on by lots of motion or being active
  • May start out of nowhere, last a short time and go away
  • No gradual increase or peak in intensity
  • No pain, just tightness
  • Go away if you drink water or sit down for a while

True contractions:

  • Feel very low, either in front or back, and sometimes wraps around the abdomen
  • A strong tightness that grows in strength, peaks, and drops off again
  • Doesn’t go away or change if you move around, sit down or drink water

When to Call Your Doctor in the Second Trimester

If you experience any of the following, it’s best to call your provider to ensure you and baby are safe and healthy.

  • Heartburn that won’t go away
  • Vaginal bleeding, even a small amount
  • Leg pain with numbness in your feet or leg weakness
  • Pain or tenderness in one or both calves that doesn’t go away
  • Pain getting up from a chair, walking up stairs or getting out of a car
  • Feel deeply depressed, anxious or stressed
  • Have signs of preeclampsia, such as swelling of the face or hands, a headache that won’t go away and trouble breathing
  • Signs of preterm labor, including a change in vaginal discharge, constant low backache and frequent contractions
  • Stopping or slowing down of the baby’s movements after 26 weeks

As you navigate your second trimester, rest assured that our compassionate and knowledgeable care team is here to support you every step of the way. If you’re ever concerned about changes occurring in your body or have questions about your growing baby, always contact your care team.

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Up Next: Third Trimester (week 27 - end of pregnancy)

Learn what happens during the third trimester of your pregnancy, including swelling, travel limits and labor warning signs.
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