When a woman gets pregnant, there are numerous physical changes that occur in her body. These changes are essential to support fetal development and prepare the body for labor.
Most women consider the second trimester as the easiest months during pregnancy. This is their favorite time of their pregnancy. The changes you experienced during the first trimester have began to subside that’s why you feel a lot better at this stage of pregnancy. In addition, during the second trimester, the baby becomes stronger and larger thus, the baby bump is more visible.
So what happens during the second trimester to a woman’s body?
When the uterus and breasts are enlarged, the center of gravity shifts upward and forward. The center of gravity is important to maintain balance and stability thus, postural compensations occur.
The muscles located below the head respond in an effort to keep appropriate eye level and to restrain forward head posture as well as the changes in shoulder alignment. The upper back becomes rounded because of breast enlargement. It will persist until breast feeding as a result of positioning following childbirth. Tightness of the chest muscles may also be observed.
The cervical and lumbar lordoses (the normal shape of the spine in the neck and lower back) increase to compensate for the shift in the center of gravity. This change also causes the knee to forcefully extend beyond its normal range. The weight shifts toward the heels to bring the center of gravity further back. This contributes to the pattern of how a pregnant woman walks called ‘waddling gait’.
Changes in posture will not automatically return or correct after childbirth and the posture during pregnancy may become habitual.
The urge to frequently urinate is lessened because the uterus grows out of the pelvic cavity. As a result, pressure on the bladder is relieved. On the other hand, heartburn and constipation may continue during the second trimester.
The mother’s appetite is back to normal or may increase. At this stage, it is expected that the mother will start to gain weight. Consequently, increasing weight could lead to lower back pain. Varicose veins and hemorrhoids may start to appear.
During the second trimester, the estrogen and progesterone levels are increased. Skin pigmentation may start to appear on the face and abdomen due to these hormones. Fortunately, these skin changes will disappear after the baby is born. Stretch marks emerge as the skin expands to accommodate the protruding abdomen.
The skin on the belly may itch as it grows bigger. Pain may occur at the lower abdomen and sides of the body due to the increasing size of the uterus. Pregnant women may also have a white vaginal discharge called leukorrhea. A colored or bloody discharge is an indication of a possible complication thus, immediate medical attention is needed.
The mucous membranes in the nose are also affected by the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone. This leads to nosebleed and congestion. Other effects of increased estrogen and progesterone levels are a spongy gum which may easily bleed and hair growth.
Most importantly, at this stage, the mother is able to feel fetal movement for the first time. This phenomenon is called quickening which is experienced during week 20. However, some women don’t experience quickening early on; some experience it until their sixth month of pregnancy.
The second trimester may be the most comfortable stage of pregnancy. However, the risk for complications is not lessened. If you feel something is wrong, don’t wait for your scheduled prenatal visit. Call your doctor right