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For many moms-to-be, the second trimester is the most enjoyable and comfortable phase of pregnancy. You’re now in that sweet spot where your morning sickness has most likely subsided, and your baby bump isn’t so big that it gets in the way or causes any aches. You may even experience a burst of energy! Read on to learn about fetal development in the second trimester, and what’s in store for you during the coming weeks.

How Long Is the Second Trimester?

The second trimester runs from 14 to 27 weeks of pregnancy, lasting 14 weeks or approximately 3 and a half months.

Your Baby’s Development in the Second Trimester

In the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby’s development continues upon the foundation set in the first trimester. Your little one goes from being about the size of a nectarine to that of a head of cauliflower, and this growth spurt will become more visible to the outside world as your belly becomes more prominent. Each week of pregnancy brings something new; here are some of the highlights of fetal development in the second trimester:

14 Weeks: Sucking and Swallowing

Around the time you’re 14 weeks pregnant, your little one may start practicing sucking and swallowing motions, possibly sucking that thumb in the coming weeks!

16 Weeks: Baby on the Go

Around the time you’re 16 to 18 weeks pregnant, or soon after, you may feel a tiny flutter in your belly as your little one rolls around or does flips in the amniotic sac. This feeling is called quickening. If this is your first pregnancy, it may take longer for you to detect the sensations of movement. Conversely, if this is your second pregnancy, you may recognize the signs of movement sooner. This is just one of the many ways a second pregnancy can be different from a first. You’ll probably notice your baby’s kicks and movements are getting stronger from around 19 weeks onward. Your baby is growing but still has plenty of room to move now, which is a good thing because it gets a little more cramped during the third trimester.

17 Weeks: Your Baby Gets a Waxy Coating

The glands in your baby’s skin may already be producing a greasy substance called vernix. This will cover your little one’s body and acts as a waterproof barrier protecting the skin.

22 Weeks: Your Baby Has Eyebrows

Those little brows are visible now: tiny tufts of fine hair, with no pigment yet. Though your baby's eyelids are still fused shut for a few more weeks, his eyes can move now behind the lids.

23 Weeks: Your Baby Responds to Sounds

With his ears fully developed, your baby may respond by moving if he hears the sound of your voice or a loud noise. This is an excellent time to start singing to your baby and playing music — and don't forget to talk to him and tell him what you’re up to.

27 Weeks: Your Baby May Smile

Your baby’s first smile could be happening any day now, as babies often start practicing inside the womb from around 27 weeks. Smiling typically occurs when your baby is asleep, often during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.

What’s in Store for You This Trimester

These are just some of the highlights and things to expect in the second trimester:

  • Meeting your baby bump. Although it’s different for every mom-to-be, and can even be different from one pregnancy to the next, you might start showing early in this trimester. Around this time you might like to read more on when you may start to show.

  • Announcing your pregnancy. Although some people may have guessed already, some of your friends, family, and colleagues will be none the wiser about the news that you're expecting. Check out these fun and creatives ways to announce your pregnancy and share your news when you feel ready.

  • Finding out your baby’s gender (if you want to). At approximately 18 to 20 weeks pregnant you'll likely have an ultrasound scan to check on the health of your baby. During this scan your healthcare provider will also be able to diagnose certain placental problems like placenta previa. Spoiler alert: if you want to, you can find out your baby’s gender during this scan.

  • Throwing a gender reveal party. If you’d like to reveal your baby’s gender to family and friends at a special party, check out our guide to organizing a great gender reveal. These parties are a great reason to get your loved ones together, and no one will ever forget that special gender reveal moment. If you’re stuck on how to actually make the big reveal, check out these 21 gender reveal ideas.

  • Having tests and checkups. During the second trimester you’ll continue with your regular prenatal care. At your checkups, your provider may check your fundal height, which is the distance between your pubic bone and the top of your uterus. This measurement helps your provider assess your baby’s size and growth rate. If you are at risk for certain conditions, such as gestational diabetes, your provider may recommend additional tests. In the case of gestational diabetes, a glucose test is performed to help your provider make a diagnosis.

  • Getting a maternity bra fitting. This trimester your belly and breasts will grow noticeably. You may need to shift to maternity wear or extra-comfortable pants and tops soon; don’t be surprised if you also need to go up a cup size. It could be a good idea to get professionally fitted to ensure you wear a supportive, comfortable bra. If your breasts are painful, read more on how to ease breast discomfort and consult your healthcare provider.

  • Experiencing an energy boost. During the second trimester, you may experience an extra burst of energy, which you can use in many ways! Begin or continue your exercise routine (though you'll want to check with your healthcare provider first) with some walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga. Start getting the nursery prepared and make a list of all the baby essentials you’ll need. Go on a babymoon! However you decide to use your extra energy, try not to overdo it and schedule time for rest as well.

  • Creating your registry. Although you still have plenty of time, now is a great time to start collating items for your baby shower registry. Thousands of Pampers Parents have voted on all the best baby gear to help you get started, but don’t finalize your registry without checking our list of registry must-haves first.

  • Upping your calories. Despite the famous saying, you don’t actually need to “eat for two.” Moms-to-be typically only need around 300 extra calories per day — that’s about a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich — as part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Read more about weight gain during pregnancy here and ask your provider for personalized advice. You can also use our Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator for general information based on your pre-pregnancy BMI (body mass index).

Second Trimester Symptoms

Here are just some of the symptoms you may experience during the second trimester:

  • Dizziness. Your body is experiencing changes in circulation, including less blood flow to your upper body and head. This can leave you feeling a little light-headed or dizzy. If you do feel light-headed, lie down on your side, if you can. Also, make sure you drink plenty of fluids. You might be able to help prevent dizziness by moving more slowly when you change positions or stand up. Above all, if you’re concerned about how you’re feeling, ask your healthcare provider for advice.

  • Round ligament pain. If you experience pain or cramping in your groin area, chances are it's due to round ligament pain. As the uterus grows, the ligaments that hold it in place in your abdomen stretch, and this can cause pain. Typically, round ligament pain is nothing to worry about, but if it becomes intense or doesn’t go away, contact your healthcare provider. Groin or abdominal pain during pregnancy can also be a sign of a possible complication, so your provider will need to rule out anything more serious. Other symptoms that could crop up are hip and pelvic pain.

  • Skin pigment changes. During pregnancy, your body produces more melanin — the pigment that gives skin its color — so your nipples may become darker, and brown patches may appear on your face (called chloasma or “mask of pregnancy”). You might also notice a dark line that runs from your pubic region to your belly button — this is called the linea nigra. These darker skin patches tend to slowly fade after your baby is born.

  • Itchy skin and stretch marks. As your baby grows and you gain pregnancy weight you may experience dry, itchy skin or develop stretch marks. There are no proven solutions for stretch marks, but a moisturizing lotion may help soothe itchy skin.

  • Sinus congestion. If your nose feels stuffed-up, making it difficult to breathe, it could be due to the hormone progesterone, which increases circulation to the mucous membranes of the nose, causing them to swell. This condition is called pregnancy rhinitis, and unfortunately there's not much you can do to make it go away. Staying hydrated can help you feel a bit better, and you can also try using a humidifier or dabbing a little petroleum jelly around each nostril to make your nose less dry. Saline drops or a saline rinse may also help.

  • Leg cramps. Some moms-to-be experience lower leg cramps that often strike at night. You can help keep these cramps at bay by stretching before bed and staying hydrated. If you do feel sharp pains in your calves, try massaging the muscle or taking a warm shower or bath.

  • Lower back pain. As you gain weight and your uterus expands, your center of gravity and posture can change, putting more pressure on your back. Exercise and stretching may help relieve some of the discomfort. Applying a heating pad or a cold compress may also offer some relief. If you can, try to avoid standing for long periods.

  • Constipation. Hormonal activity and your growing baby pushing against your intestines can lead to constipation. Although this condition can be uncomfortable, drinking more water and eating more fiber can help get things moving.

  • “Pregnancy brain.” Feeling a little spaced out lately? This could be due to hormonal changes, lack of sleep, or even stress. Experts don’t yet know whether pregnancy has a real impact on your memory and mental sharpness, but if you feel more scatterbrained than usual, just know that many other moms-to-be feel the same way. Try using your tablet or smartphone to stay organized with lists and reminders. Read more about whether pregnancy brain is fact or fiction and what you can do to keep yourself organized.

  • Thicker hair. During pregnancy, many moms-to-be find that their hair gets thicker and might grow faster than usual. It’s one of the physical changes you may really enjoy this trimester!

FAQs at a Glance

  • As long as you’re comfortable and supported, you don’t need to sit in a particular way. If you’re going to be sitting for long periods of time, such as at work, use an adjustable chair with lower back support, or place a small cushion or pillow behind your back. Help decrease any swelling in your legs by using a footstool or something else to elevate your feet.
  • As your bump gets bigger, you may struggle to find a comfortable position when you lie down and try to sleep. Lying face down can be uncomfortable and sleeping on your back puts the baby weight on your back muscles and spine. As a result, your best sleep position is likely on your side with your knees bent.

  • The second trimester runs from the time you’re 14 to 27 weeks pregnant.

  • Although some experts recommend lying on your left side to help improve your circulation, they also say that you shouldn’t worry about rolling onto your back or right side while asleep.

    If you do happen to roll over and your body senses discomfort you’ll likely wake up and you can return to your left side.

    If you’re struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position as your bump grows, consider buying a pregnancy pillow.

  • You can start reading to your baby at any time! It might even help you feel more connected to your little one. Experts say from around 23 weeks your little one may respond to familiar sounds such as your voice, so don’t be surprised if your little one moves in response to story time.

Checklist for the Second Trimester

  • Take a deep dive into the second trimester by reading our week-by-week pregnancy articles.

  • Download our FREE pregnancy announcement cards.

  • Consider getting some stretchy clothes to accommodate your growing bump.

  • Sign up for childbirth classes to ensure you get a spot. Read up on how to choose a childbirth class here.

  • Make an appointment for your second trimester ultrasound scan, which usually takes place between 18 and 20 weeks.

  • Ask your provider, what, if any, genetic testing may be recommend for you. Consider whether genetic tests like amniocentesis and maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) testing are right for you. Ask your provider if you will need an Rh immune globulin shot. (This may be recommended if an earlier blood test showed you are Rh negative.)

  • Make a list of any questions you have about your pregnancy and childbirth so that you can get answers at your next prenatal checkup.

  • Ask your healthcare provider what options you have for labor and childbirth, and think about where you would like to give birth.

  • Think about whether you would like to write a birth plan.

  • Start doing pelvic floor exercises. Consult our guide to learn more about Kegel exercises.

  • Think about whether a labor support person called a doula may be for you, and start researching your options if yes.

  • Talk to your employer about your maternity leave if you haven’t already.

  • Connect with other moms-to-be in your area or online so that you have a support network of others who are going through similar things as you.

  • Start researching your childcare options for after your baby is born.

  • Still looking for the perfect baby name? Play around with our Baby Name Generator for inspiration.

  • If you’ve decided not to find out your baby’s gender during an ultrasound, have some fun playing with our Chinese Gender Predictor.

  • If you are given a printout of the ultrasound image, start your baby’s first photo album with it.

  • For useful and interesting info and updates sent straight to your inbox, sign up to receive our emails:

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.