The span from week 13 to week 27 of pregnancy is called the "honeymoon period" for good reason: Typically, nausea subsides, emotions even out, and sex drive returns. It's also the time when you'll start to feel the baby's first movements. What other changes are in store? Read on.
The nausea subsides
By the second trimester, most women find that morning sickness tapers off or stops completely. If you're still feeling queasy, talk to your doctor about increasing your intake of vitamin B6, which has been shown to settle the stomach. Around this time you'll start to experience another discomfort in the tummy: abdominal aches, which are a result of your growing uterus and the stretch of the surrounding ligaments.
Signs of life
During most of your first trimester, your baby has been growing silently inside you. At around 12 weeks, your doctor will be able to detect the baby's heartbeat. But now, you'll have other physical signals that your baby is thriving, including:
- Between 16 and 20 weeks, you'll start to feel your baby move around inside you, known as "quickening."
- Toward the end of the trimester, you might also feel repeated "blips" in your abdomen -- not to worry, that's just your baby having completely harmless hiccups!
Even mundane activities like walking to the bathroom can make you feel winded now. It's perfectly normal. As the uterus grows, it'll begin to crowd the lungs, making it a little harder for air to flow in and out. Try to take it easy, and if you find that your shortness of breath becomes more severe, see your doctor.
Your changing shape
By week 16, you'll likely be in maternity clothes due to your expanding waistline and widening hips. By week 27, you should have gained 16 to 22 pounds, but your baby will only account for about two of those. You'll also probably start to see another pregnancy phenomenon: stretch marks. Most will fade to nearly invisible silvery or white streaks after you give birth.
Although your hormones are still in overdrive, your body's had three months to adjust to them, so you might actually make it through one of those tearjerker commercials without crying. On the flip side, as your shape changes you may worry more about the long-term effects that pregnancy may have on your body. To beat the body blues:
- Buy a cute outfit (there's great pregnancy clothing now).
- Treat yourself to a beauty boost, like a manicure for your newly strong-and-long nails.
- Revel in how great you feel.
As your baby becomes more of a reality, your dreams might become more startling. Giving birth to some kind of supernatural Rosemary's Baby is a common theme in expectant moms' dreams during the second trimester. So don't freak out if you wake up in a cold sweat -- it's normal to feel a little anxious.
Your sex drive
During your fourth or fifth month, you might suddenly feel much more sexual. By your second trimester, your body is manufacturing estrogen in overdrive: The ovaries produce as much in a single day as a nonpregnant woman's ovaries do in three years. And, since the first trimester's nausea and fatigue have tapered off, you might just feel more aroused -- some women even experience multiple orgasms for the first time.
Getting in exercise
If nausea and fatigue kept you from your fitness routine in your first trimester, now's the time to start some gentle exercise. Try:
Kegels, which will help you with pushing during labor and reduce the risk of incontinence after. Contract your muscles as though you're trying to stop the flow of urine in midstream. Hold and repeat.
Prenatal yoga. It's tailored especially for you and your changing body, and you'll get to meet other expecting moms in the process.
Hitting the pool. Swimming and water aerobics are low-impact, and the weightless feeling will give your tired legs and feet a break.
Walking. Even just around the neighborhood will get your blood pumping and make you feel more energetic.
- Avoid heavy lifting, or any exercise that requires you to exhale with great force -- this can raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels.
- After the fourth or fifth month, skip exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. This position could cause you to compress the vena cava, a major blood vessel that brings blood to the baby.
- Eat a small snack about an hour before your workout. The calorie boost will increase your energy.
- Sip water throughout your workout. It's especially important to stay hydrated while you're pregnant.
- Take extra care with exercises that require balance. Your body is changing rapidly, and while running or doing step-aerobics you can feel especially off-kilter.
The second trimester is when you'll likely feel at your best during your pregnancy, so take advantage of it! Exercise, go shopping for baby stuff, pamper yourself a bit -- and revel in the wonderful new stirrings and changes you're feeling in your body every day.