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Timeline Of The Second Trimester

Timeline Of The Second Trimester
(Photo : Timeline Of The Second Trimester)

A normal pregnancy lasts for nine months and falls into three separate trimesters. The second trimester occurs between months four and six or weeks 13 through 27. During this time, your fetus grows in-size and you begin experiencing outward signs, including a larger belly and breasts, skin changes, and Braxton-Hicks contractions. 

It's important to know what to expect during each trimester. That way, you can be better equipped to spot any unusual signs or symptoms that may require medical attention.

What Can I Expect During The Second Trimester Of Pregnancy?

At the beginning of the second trimester, you're less likely to experience common symptoms associated with the first trimester such as morning sickness and fatigue. However, your body continues to undergo changes

During the second trimester, it's perfectly normal to experience:

  • Increased appetite

  • Body aches

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness 

  • Itching

  • Swelling of the ankles and hands

  • An expanding uterus

Many women also develop stretch marks on the stomach, thighs, and buttocks. This is the time that you will begin to feel your baby moving around.

How Many Prenatal Visits Occur During The Second Trimester Of Pregnancy?

During the second trimester, you'll visit your general practitioner or OB/GYN every two to four weeks. Your doctor will tailor each appointment based on your unique health history and needs. During this time it is normal to undergo:  

  • Blood pressure checks

  • Ultrasounds

  • Diabetes screening and other blood tests

  • Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT)

You also have the option to learn your baby's sex during the second trimester. If you're concerned about your baby's risk of genetic abnormalities or birth defects, you might also want to undergo second-trimester prenatal screening.

What Is Second Trimester Prenatal Screening?

Second-trimester prenatal screening includes several procedures used to determine your baby's risk of birth defects and genetic abnormalities. The two most common types of second-trimester prenatal screening are amniocentesis and alpha-fetoprotein screening  (AFP).

Amniocentesis

During amniocentesis, your general practitioner or OB/GYN uses a thin, hollow-point needle to extract a sample of amniotic fluid from your uterus. Your provider tests the sample for genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, or spina bifida.

Alpha-fetoprotein screening

During AFP screening, your OB/GYN or general practitioner draws a sample of your blood. They screen your sample for the presence of AFP, a protein released by your growing baby's liver. Abnormal levels of AFP may indicate chromosomal abnormalities such as spina bifida or Down syndrome. It can also indicate defects in the abdominal wall of the fetus.

After you receive the results of your tests, your general practitioner or OB/GYN can refer you to a genetic counselor who can explain them in greater depth. This process can help you better plan for your baby's arrival and future.

What Aspects Of Fetal Development Occur During The Second Trimester Of Pregnancy?

Your baby experiences many changes during the second trimester of pregnancy. Over the course of these three months, your child develops the ability to hear and swallow; their organs fully develop; and they develop a natural sleep and wake cycle. 

Additionally, your baby begins developing body hair and grows in size. At the end of the second trimester, most healthy babies weigh just over two pounds.

Planning for a baby is a fun and exciting process. The second trimester is the perfect time to work with your doctor to understand what's in store so that you can be sure that you are fully prepared for your little one. 

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