What to expect in the second trimester of pregnancy

This information on what to expect in the second trimester of pregnancy has been taken from the hse.ie website. There are aspects of it that may not apply or may be carried out differently because of current restrictions due to the Coronavirus but check with your local GP/antenatal clinic.

The second trimester is from 13 to 28 weeks. Often the second trimester brings renewed energy levels. Your nausea and fatigue may be easing.

Your baby is growing, and you will begin to feel them moving. This can be a special and exciting sensation.

You may need to begin wearing maternity clothes, trousers and jeans. Make sure you wear a well-fitted bra.

During this time you:

  • will continue to have antenatal appointments with your GP and midwife or obstetrician.
  • can get vaccinated after 16 weeks to protect your baby from whooping cough
  • may have a fetal anatomy scan at 18 to 22 weeks
  • can be screen for diabetes in pregnancy between 24-28 weeks
  • apply for maternity benefit form after 24 weeks

Physical changes

As your pregnancy progresses, you will notice more and more changes in your body.

Feeling your baby move

You should begin to notice your baby moving in the second trimester. This may feel like fluttering, bubbles popping or like the baby is poking you.

Get to know your baby by encouraging your partner to feel for movements. Think about what your baby may be doing. Is your baby moving his or her arms and legs, or sucking a thumb?

Talk to your GP or midwife immediately if you do not feel your baby moving or are feeling less movement than usual

Related topics

Your baby’s movements during pregnancy

More energy and less sickness

You should experience more energy in the second trimester. Resist the urge to overdo activity or tasks.

You may find your libido or sex drive returns around this time. Some pregnant women find their sex drive is higher than usual. This may be due to an increase in blood flow to the pelvic area or it may be due to hormones.

Related topic

Sex during pregnancy

Morning sickness should ease off by 20 weeks.

Back and pelvic girdle pain

Back pain is caused by your baby getting bigger. Also, during pregnancy your ligaments stretch and soften to prepare you for childbirth.

This stretching can put pressure on the joints of your lower back and pelvis which can cause pain.

To relieve back or pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy:

  • avoid standing to do tasks that you can do while sitting
  • sit tall, don’t slump, support your back with a small cushion
  • avoid lifting heavy objects
  • wear flat shoes as these allow your weight to be well distributed
  • work at a surface high enough to prevent you stooping
  • make sure you get enough rest, particularly later in pregnancy

Talk to your GP or midwife if the pain is severe.


Constipation means that your stools (poos) are harder to pass than normal. You may need to strain while having a bowel movement. You may have fewer bowel movements than usual.

Constipation is common in early pregnancy, and it can be quite uncomfortable.

Heavy, swollen legs and ankles

Your growing baby and womb puts pressure on your body. This can creates extra fluid and slow your blood circulation.

As the day goes on, the lower parts of your body will begin to hold or retain water especially your feet and ankles. This may be worse in hot weather or if you have been standing.

Try to:

  • walk every day and try not to cross your legs
  • do some foot exercises
  • rest with your feet up when you can
  • avoid long periods of standing
  • use support stockings
  • avoid tight clothing and wear comfortable shoes and socks
  • sleep on your left side not on your back
  • drink plenty of water – over 2 litres a day

Bleeding gums

Your teeth and gums will need a little extra care now that you are pregnant. Hormone changes can cause a build-up of plaque which leads to bleeding gums.

Make sure you:

  • brush your teeth twice daily and floss once a day
  • see a dentist at least once during the pregnancy and inform them that you are pregnant

Emotional changes

During this trimester your tummy shape will show the first signs that you are going to become a mother.

Seeing your baby for the first time on an ultrasound scan is often a memorable experience.

As the baby moves, you may begin to think about the baby as a separate being. This is often when you start to bond with your baby.

You may start imagining what your baby will be like. You may be thinking about yourself as a mother, and changing your behaviours to reflect this.

As your baby gets bigger, your body changes, and you may feel emotional or sensitive about this.

You may develop ‘pregnancy brain’ where many women notice they are more forgetful or disorganised than normal. Many women have vivid dreams about their baby.

Sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner and your family will help you to deal with any worries you may have.

Related topics

What to expect in the third trimester

33 to 36 weeks pregnant

For further information on pregnancy and labour see https://www2.hse.ie/pregnancy/

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