Pregnancy week by week



Symptoms of second trimester

The second trimester of pregnancy lasts till week 27 of pregnancy. This is a relatively comfortable phase for you as the worst of nausea has usually passed and your baby is still not big enough to make you uncomfortable. You experience a renewed sense of well being as you begin to gain back your energy. As the baby grows and develops, your bump begins to show. All the organs of your baby have developed by now and it starts to gain in weight and size. You will also begin to feel the movements of your baby somewhere between 16-20 weeks. Women in second trimester usually feel beautiful, happy, and have that famous pregnancy glow. This is a good time to travel as you won’t be allowed to travel long distances during your third trimester.  Here are some common symptoms of the second trimester.


1) Backache

Backaches and aching near the pelvic bone are common in pregnant women. This is due to the increasing weight of the baby and the loosening of the joints. As the pregnancy progresses, the hormone progesterone starts to soften the ligaments in preparation for the stretching required during pregnancy. This softening puts extra strain on the back and hop joints. Also, as your uterus continues to get larger, your centre of gravity shifts resulting in posture changes. Consequently, all these factors may strain your back muscles and lead to backaches.

Though backaches are normal, it's a good idea to contact your doctor if you start to lose feeling in your legs, buttocks or genital area, or the pain is severe. 

Ways to alleviate back pain during pregnancy

  • Use a firm mattress
  • Take regular exercise- try walking, swimming, or yoga

  • Sit up straight and use a pillow to support your back while sitting. Avoid sitting cross-legged, as this can strain your lower back.

  • Wear flat shoes.

  • Try not to do any heavy lifting. If you do have to lift something, always keep your back straight and bend your hips and knees.

  • While resting you may want to lie down on your side- with a pillow between your knees- to take the pressure off your back.

  • Apply hot and cold packs.

  • Your doctor could prescribe you a support corset or refer you to a physiotherapist for more advice.

2) Varicosities

During pregnancy blood volume increases greatly. This can cause veins to enlarge. Additionally, pressure on the large veins behind the uterus slows down the venous return to the heart, leading to pooling of blood in the veins in the legs. Varicose veins look like swollen veins raised above the surface of the skin. They are found most often on the back of the calves or on the inside of the leg.Usually varicosities become more prominent as pregnancy advances, as weight increases, and as the length of time spent upright is prolonged.

The symptoms may vary from cosmetic blemishes on the lower extremities and mild discomfort at the end of the day to severe discomfort that requires prolonged rest with the feet elevated.

The treatment is generally limited to periodic rest with elevation of the legs, wearing elastic stockings, or both. Avoid standing for long periods; sit down or walk around if you can. Raise your legs while sitting as much as possible.

3) Haemorrhoids

Also referred to as piles, are swollen and bulging veins in the rectum.  They cause itching, pain, and bleeding.  Their development during pregnancy is related to obstruction of venous return by the growing uterus and the tendency toward constipation during pregnancy. Straining to get a hard bowel makes the haemorrhoids worse. Haemorrhoids usually improve after delivery.

 Try to avoid being constipated by eating high fibre foods, like fruits, leafy green vegetables, and whole grain cereals. Drink lots of fluids and take regular exercise. Try not to strain with bowel movements. Usually pain and swelling are relieved by topically applied anaesthetics, warm soaks, and laxatives that soften the stool. If there is bleeding always check with your doctor.


4) Heart burn

Many women get heartburn during pregnancy. Heart burn is a burning feeling in your stomach, sometimes rising up to your throat. This may be accompanied by nausea, bloating, burping and abdominal discomfort. Pregnancy hormones make the muscles at the top of the stomach lax so they don’t close properly. This allows the acids to come back up from the stomach. As your baby grows bigger, the uterus pushes on the stomach, making this symptom worse during late pregnancy.

Ways to cope with heart burn

  • Try to eat small, frequent meals (have 6 smaller meals rather than 3 large ones)
  • Avoid spicy and fried food.

  • Do not lie down after meals

  • Drink water or milk when you get the burning feeling.

  • Sleep propped up on pillows.

  • If heartburn keeps you awake at night, eat early rather than late in the evening.

  • Ask for a remedy from your doctor that is safe to take in pregnancy

5) Profuse salivation (ptyalism)

Women during pregnancy are occasionally distressed by profuse salivation. This is probably due to hormonal changes. Nausea can also make some women to swallow less, causing build up of saliva in the mouth.

6) Leukorrhea

A clear white discharge is normal during pregnancy. This is due to increased mucus formation by cervical glands in response to high levels of hormone estrogen. You may want to wear panty liners for comfort.

Occasionally, leukorrhea is the result of an infection caused by candida albicans or trichomonas vaginalis. If you have Trichomonas vaginalis, there will be foamy white discharge with pruritus and irritation. If the discharge is thicker and yellowish, it can be Candida infection. You may  feel sore and itchy. It is caused by the changing balance of hormones which makes the conditions right for candida to grow. The infection can be treated with anti-fungal creams and pessaries. Always check with your doctor before self medicating.

7) Flatulence

Flatulence is a normal pregnancy symptom that might strike at 14 weeks of pregnancy. The main cause of flatulence is the increase in the hormones relaxin and progesterone, which relaxes the muscles in your body including the digestive tract and slows down your digestion. To prevent bloating and gas, it's important that you avoid food triggers, such as spicy, fried foods, and carbonated sodas. You'll also want to eat smaller meals, rather than big meals, since this might it easier to digest food.

8) Swollen ankles and feet

Many women develop mild swelling in the face, hands, or ankles at some point in their pregnancies. This is caused by changes in your blood chemistry - you have 50% more fluids and blood running through your body. Swelling can be made worse by certain lifestyle habits, such as eating very salty or fattening foods, or from standing for an extended period of time. Rest and elevate your feet whenever you can. Avoid drinking caffeine or eating salty food. Drink 8-10 glasses of fluids daily. Mild swelling isn't anything to worry about, but severe or sudden swelling may indicate a problem. Talk to your doctor if you're worried.

9) Stomach itchiness

 It's not unusual for your breasts or growing stomach to itch as your skin stretches to accommodate your growth. Hormonal changes can also contribute to itchiness in pregnancy. Usually the itchy feeling goes away after delivery.To get relief from your itchiness, use gentle soaps and moisturizing creams, avoid hot showers and baths

10) Gum bleeds

Increased blood circulation can soften your gums, which might cause minor bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. Switching to a softer tooth brush can help decrease irritation. It can also make your teeth and gums susceptible to plaque and bacterial infection. Therefore, maintaining good oral hygiene is must during pregnancy.

11) Nasal stuffiness and congestion

This symptom is due to swelling in the mucous membranes of the nose, brought on by the pregnancy hormone progesterone. Some women may also experience nose bleeds due to increased blood flow and expansion of blood vessels in nose. Eat foods rich in vitamin C, as this can help strengthen the blood vessels. You could also try dabbing some petroleum jelly around each nostril, to stop the skin drying out so easily.


12) Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)

You may find it hard to fall asleep or sleep through the night. This can be due to leg cramps, baby‘s movements, heart burn, or frequent urination. As your belly grows, you may also find it difficult to get a comfortable position. To help you sleep better, try investing in a body pregnancy pillow that will offer support in all the right areas.

Ways to cope with insomnia

  • Try to go to bed earlier than normal
  • Lie on your left side as sleeping on your back can put pressure on the blood supply to your baby

  • Use pillows for support, such as behind your back, between your knees, and under your tummy.

  • Make time for naps if you do not get enough sleep during the night

  • Drink fluids earlier in the day so you are less likely to get disturbed during the night.


13) Fainting and dizziness

If you feel light-headed, it’s because your body is working overtime. The hormones relax              your body’s blood vessels, causing a drop in blood pressure, and this can make you feel faint. If you skip a meal, you feel light-headed, too. Avoid standing up for long periods if you can, and eat regularly. Don’t skip meals. Stand slowly from lying down or sitting position. When you feel dizzy, lie on your left side to restore your blood pressure.

14) Round ligament pain

This is a common complaint in pregnancy often starting in the second trimester. These ligaments provide support to the uterus. As your uterus stretches, these ligaments stretch with it. This stretching can cause shooting pain in your abdomen or groin area especially if you suddenly change position. Sit down and try to relax when the pain strikes. Use heating pad or warm compresses. Avoid sudden movements, shifting positions slowly. You should check with your doctor to be sure this is indeed round ligament pain. The pain shouldn’t last longer than a few seconds in which you are changing position or getting up. If the pain doesn’t subside within a minute or two, speak to your doctor as this could be something more serious like preterm labour, abruption placenta, or some other medical problem unrelated to pregnancy like appendicitis.


15) Sciatica

As your uterus continues to grow it places some pressure on your back and pelvis. Because of this, some women will experience a condition called sciatica. You may find that you are not able to walk or move your legs without experiencing pain. This often happens when the baby's head presses against the pelvic bones causing the nerves in your lower back and legs to be compressed. Severe pain often results and can occur in the lower back, leg or legs and even buttocks. Some women will also experience numbness or tingling in the legs. In many cases the pain subsides within 1-2 weeks, though it may not disappear completely until after delivery.

Some suggestions to help ease pain and discomfort caused by sciatica:

  • Apply a hot or ice pack for 10 minutes to the area that is most painful.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time.

  • Avoid frequent bending at the waist.

  • Don't engage in movements that make the pain worse.

  • Use support cushions and a full body pillow in bed.

  • Don't lift anything heavy and when you do lift be sure to bend from the knees.

  • Physiotherapy may help


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