Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 14-27 Weeks

For many, the second trimester is the most enjoyable and comfortable phase of pregnancy. You’re now in that sweet spot where your morning sickness may have subsided, but your baby bump isn’t so big yet 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 happens during this exciting period.

Highlights From the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Second Trimester Weeks: When Does the Second Trimester Start and When Does It End?

So, when is the second trimester, when does it start and end, and how many weeks long is it? The second trimester runs from 14 to 27 weeks of pregnancy, lasting 14 weeks orapproximately three and a half months.


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Your Baby’s Development in the Second Trimester

In the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby’s development continues and builds on 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. Read on for some of the highlights of your little one's development in the weeks during the second trimester.

14 Weeks: Senses Developing

Around the time you’re 14 weeks pregnant, your little one is developing their senses of smell and taste, and their skin is becoming thicker.

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. 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's Skin 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 act 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, their eyes can now move behind the lids.

23 Weeks: Your Baby Can Recognize Sounds

Your baby's recent ear development means that they can now recognize familiar sounds, such as your voice. This is an excellent time to start singing to your baby and playing music—and don't forget to talk to them and tell them 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 the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase.

Illustration of Fetal Development Week by Week

Take a look at the illustrations below for a visual representation of how your little one develops week to week during the second trimester:

What’s in Store for You in the Second 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 pregnant person and can even be different from one pregnancy to the next, you might start showing early in this trimester.

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

  • Finding out your baby’s sex (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 sex during this scan if you haven't found out already.

  • Throwing a gender reveal party. If you’d like to reveal your baby’s sex to family and friends at a special party, check out our guide to organizing a festive gender reveal. When done correctly and with safety in mind, these parties are a wonderful reason to get your loved ones together, and no one will ever forget that special gender reveal moment.

  • 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. In the second 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 for advice.

  • 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, why not start listing items for your baby shower registry now? Check our list of baby registry must-haves.

  • Upping your calories. Despite the famous saying, you don’t actually need to “eat for two.” Pregnant people typically need only around 300 extra calories per day—that’s about equal to a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich—as part of a healthy pregnancy diet. If you’re wondering how much weight you should gain in the second trimester, the recommended amount will vary from person to person. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you’re on track and give you personalized advice. You can also use our Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator below for general information based on your pre-pregnancy BMI (body mass index).

What Weeks and Months Are in the Second Trimester?

If you’re curious about what weeks and months make up the second trimester, check out our visual below to see what’s included and to get an idea of how your belly may be growing:

Second Trimester Symptoms

As you enter your second trimester of pregnancy, you may notice that symptoms such as morning sickness have subsided and that you’ve regained some of your energy. Old symptoms may make way for a few new ones, which we’ll explore in more detail below. Remember, every pregnancy is different, and you may or may not experience some of these common symptoms during the second trimester:

  • Dizziness. Your body is experiencing changes in circulation, including reduced blood flow to your upper body and head. This can leave you feeling a little light-headed or dizzy. If you are feeling weak and shaky during the second trimester of pregnancy, lie down on your side if you can. Also, make sure you drink plenty of fluids. You might be able to help prevent dizziness in the second trimester and throughout pregnancy 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 the abdomen, groin, or on one side of the stomach during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, this could be 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 during the second trimester of pregnancy 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 sure-fire prevention strategies 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. If you experience this symptom in the second trimester of pregnancy, or you’re getting nosebleeds, staying hydrated can help you feel 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 people experience cramping in their lower legs during the second trimester and throughout pregnancy, with the cramps often striking at night. You can help keep cramping at bay by stretching before bed and staying hydrated. If you do feel sharp pains in your calves, try massaging the muscles 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 others 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 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!

Precautions to Take in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

During the second trimester of pregnancy, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and watch out for any unusual symptoms. Here are some good things to do and precautions to take:

  1. Have regular prenatal checkups. Consistent medical appointments allow your healthcare provider to monitor your health and the baby's development. These checkups often include routine tests and screenings.

  2. Eat good food. Opt for a nutritious, balanced diet rich in protein, calcium, iron, and folic acid. Avoid uncooked or undercooked seafood, raw eggs, and unpasteurized milk products.

  3. Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is key. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

  4. Stay active. Continue your regular exercise routine or begin moderate exercise, such as walking or prenatal yoga, unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider. Staying active helps to reduce your risk of pregnancy complications, and it also helps relieve aches and pains, boosts your energy and mood levels, helps you sleep better, and increases your strength, muscle tone, and endurance. Remember to listen to your body and stay hydrated during physical activity.

  5. Avoid harmful substances. Steer clear of alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Limit your intake of caffeine.

  6. Rest and relax. Ample rest is essential. Nap and take breaks when needed.

  7. Pay attention to baby movements. In the second trimester, you might start to feel your baby moving. Once you start feeling those movements, take note of your little one’s pattern of movement over time. Your provider may ask you to start counting kicks and other movements at some point, typically in the third trimester. This can help you to notice any decrease or change in your baby’s movements and allow you to contact your healthcare provider promptly for more advice.

As for signs your pregnancy is going well in the second trimester, your provider can fill you in on these, which may include consistent weight gain, the absence of severe pain, regular baby movements, the absence of vaginal bleeding, and generally feeling well. Always contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider

It's important to maintain open lines of communication with your healthcare provider during pregnancy. Furthermore, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms during the second trimester or at any point in your pregnancy:

  • Severe or persistent headaches, dizziness, fainting, or changes in vision.

  • Persistent or severe vomiting or nausea during the second trimester, which could be a sign of hyperemesis gravidarum.

  • Sudden or severe swelling in the hands, face, or legs could be a symptom of preeclampsia.

  • Consistent or severe abdominal pain or cramping.

  • Unusual vaginal discharge, itching, sores, or foul odor, which could indicate an infection. A clear or white discharge during the second trimester of pregnancy is usually considered normal.

  • Any vaginal bleeding, spotting, or passing of clots.

  • Leakage or gushing of fluid could indicate premature rupture of membranes.

Remember, when in doubt, it's always wise to contact your healthcare provider, who can provide reassurance, conduct necessary tests, and offer appropriate treatment based on your specific situation. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, don't hesitate to seek help.

Checklist for the Second Trimester

Here’s a handy checklist to help you stay organized during your second trimester of pregnancy:

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

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

  • Sign up for childbirth classes to ensure you get a spot.

  • 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 recommended for you. Consider whether genetic tests like amniocentesis and maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) testing are right for you.

  • Ask your provider if you'll need an Rh immune globulin shot. (This may be recommended if an earlier blood test showed you're 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 about 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 you'd like to hire a labor support person called a doula. If yes, start researching your options.

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

  • Connect with other seasoned and soon-to-be parents in your area or online so that you have a support network of others who are going through similar experiences.

  • Start researching your childcare options.

  • 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 sex during an ultrasound, have some fun with our Chinese Gender Predictor.

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

The Bottom Line

The second trimester of pregnancy is a time of remarkable development and change. During this phase, you could experience a burst of energy and may feel your little one wriggle around for the first time. As your baby grows and your body adjusts, staying informed and maintaining an open line of communication with your healthcare provider is important. Make sure to pay attention to your body, and don't hesitate to seek advice if you notice any unusual symptoms. Remember, every pregnancy journey is unique, and your healthcare provider will always be a top source of advice and support.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on 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.