The Second Trimester - What's Up with the Baby?

The second trimester encompasses weeks 13 through 28 of your pregnancy. This period is often referred to as the "honeymoon of pregnancy" because you finally get a reprieve from some of the initial, uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy - like nausea and vomiting. And, this is the period when you'll finally stop feeling fat and actually get to go out and buy some really cute maternity outfits. This trimester is also probably the most comfortable you'll be since baby isn't big enough to crowd your stomach and other abdominal organs.

A Time of Firsts

It is also during this span of the pregnancy that you'll get to have your standard ultrasound, which is usually performed at around 20 weeks. It is basically done to be sure everything is going well with the baby; checking to see s/he is growing and developing as s/he should. The doctor will also be checking the baby's heartbeat, looking for physical abnormalities and checking to see if there is more than one baby in your womb. The location of the placenta is observed and the levels of amniotic fluid are measured. If there is too much or too little fluid it could present a problem for your baby. Perhaps the best part of this ultrasound is that you'll get a first peek at your baby - complete with pictures to show off. If the baby is in the right place and properly exposed, you'll be able to find out if you're having a boy or a girl (if you want to know).

In the second trimester your baby's development moves to a whole new level. It is a time of firsts for you. You'll feel the baby move for the first time and you'll be able to hear the baby's heartbeat. While you are making adjustments for your changing shape, there are a lot of changes going on inside your womb as your baby, who was just a cluster of cells a couple of months ago, has organs, nerves, muscles and is looking more like a little person.

What's Going On?  Weeks 13 to 17

Around 13 weeks into your pregnancy your baby's intestines have relocated from the umbilical cord to his or her own abdomen. Baby is making urine and releasing it into the amniotic fluid. Bones are beginning to form, and the skull, arms and legs are taking firm shape. They'll reach the relative lengths they'll be at birth in just a week or so. Weeks 13 to 17 see definition coming to the baby's body and it is in this quarter of the trimester that your baby's sex is apparent. Bones are forming, the skeleton is developing and the hair pattern on the scalp is becoming evident. Your baby's eyes face forward and begin to move slowly as his or her ears are nearing their final placement. If you could see inside your womb, you'd notice that your baby is beginning to make sucking motions with his or her mouth. Movement is becoming coordinated and your upcoming ultrasound will let you see how much movement is actually taking place in there.

The Second Quarter

The second quarter of this trimester, weeks 17 through 20 will see baby plumping out as fat accumulates under the skin, preparing to keep baby warm after being born and providing energy to grow. During this time the baby's ears finish growing and he or she may be able to hear. Midway through this portion of the term your baby will be covered with a greasy, cheese-like coating called the vernix caseosa. This helps to protect the baby's skin from chapping and abrasions that can result from exposure to the amniotic fluid. If you're carrying a little girl, her vagina is developing now. By the 20th week, you're half-way through your pregnancy and you will likely be able to feel your baby move for the first time. It's called quickening and it's an incredible feeling.

Three-Quarters Through the Second Trimester

Moving into the second half of the second trimester, weeks 21 to 24, your baby develops a fine, down-like hair called lanugo. This hair holds the vernix caseosa on the skin. Baby has eyebrows and will begin to have rapid eye movements. Taste buds will soon form on the tongue, fingerprints and footprints are beginning to form. If your baby is a boy, his testes are descending from his abdomen, and if the baby is a girl, her uterus and ovaries are in place, complete with a lifetime supply of eggs! By the end of this quarter of the trimester, your baby is waking and sleeping at regular intervals and hair (the real stuff) is growing on his or her head. Babies born in this portion of the trimester can, with adequate intensive medical help, survive.

The Last Few Weeks of This Period

The last three weeks of the second trimester see your belly protruding more, your navel beginning to pop out and your baby's hands and startle reflexes are developing. You may even notice that your baby responds to the sound of your voice with movement. Midway in this quarter, around week 26, your baby now has fingernails; the lungs are developing surfactant which keeps them from collapsing and sticking together.

The end of the second trimester officially ends at week 27. The baby's lungs and nervous system continue to develop. Your baby has had a huge growth spurt, and by the look of it, so have you.

What Are You Experiencing?

Learn all about the many changes you will experience on the outside while your baby is growing on the inside.

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