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Second Trimester Of Pregnancy: Here’s What To Do And What Not To Do

By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 15 February 2023, Updated on - 02 March 2023

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While the first trimester brings along a sudden spike in hormones and various physical changes, the second trimester is much more comfortable for the pregnant woman. The second trimester of pregnancy is often called the golden period as during this period women are less likely to experience nausea and are high on energy. The second trimester starts from the 13th week till the 28th week of pregnancy. Read to know more about the expectations and precautions a woman should take care of during this trimester.

What to expect in the second trimester of pregnancy?

With a decrease in the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, morning sickness, persistent tiredness and breast tenderness ease up. During the second trimester, the foetus develops all its organs and systems and starts growing in length and weight. 

As per Dr Suvarna P, a gynaecologist and obstetrician associated with Apollo 24|7, “in the second trimester, pregnant women would experience improvement in the nausea & vomiting. The doctor would recommend an NT scan at 12 to 14 weeks, and an anomaly scan & perception of baby movements at 20 weeks. The patient would be prescribed iron and calcium tablet supplements along with TT injections. The patient would be educated about monthly check ups, travelling related precautions, intercourse, and antenatal exercises.

However, pregnant women should be cautious about the use of harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco and other hazards as they can pass through the umbilical cord and can affect the baby’s growth negatively. The changes that can be experienced by a pregnant woman during the second trimester include:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Growth of the uterus makes the pregnancy visible
  • Itching on the skin of the belly 
  • Pain in the lower stomach as the ligaments stretch to support the growing uterus
  • Less pressure on the bladder as the uterus grows out of the pelvic cavity, thus there is less need to urinate   
  • Nasal congestion and nosebleeds (sometimes) due to hormonal surges and increased blood flow in the body
  • Bleeding of gums due to increased hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in the body
  • Backache and cramps in the legs due to continuously increasing weight
  • Pigmentation over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip, often called the mask of pregnancy
  • Presence of varicose veins (enlarged, swollen veins) and haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • White-coloured vaginal discharge (leukorrhea) 
  • Indigestion, heartburn and constipation
  • Feeling the movement or kicks of the foetus for the first time at around 20 weeks

Do's during the second trimester of pregnancy 

Things that should be followed during the second trimester of pregnancy include:

  • Consume a well-balanced diet filled with enough proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are necessary for the growth and development of the baby. 
  • Add on a few calorie-rich foods such as pork, chicken, oily fishes (salmon), beans, milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, whole grain pasta and bread, nuts and nut butter, olive oil and avocados to your diet as the foetus would be requiring additional 340 calories for the growth.
  • Continue prenatal supplements (given before the baby is born) of folic acid, vitamin D and iron to reduce the risk of birth defects in the spinal cord and brain. 
  • Practise moderate-intensity aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, yoga and pilates daily for at least 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week.  
  • Brush and floss regularly and consume vitamin C-rich foods (amla, lemon, oranges) or supplements to keep the gums healthy and to prevent pregnancy gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). 
  • Women can travel after the first trimester (if they do not have complications) as morning sickness is relieved by this time.  
  • Take frequent naps to deal with the exhaustion that occurs due to physical and hormonal changes in the body. 

The baby develops skin, hair and other vital organs throughout the second trimester. The baby would start moving during this phase and can grow up to 14 inches by the end of the trimester. 

Don'ts during the second trimester of pregnancy 

Things that should be avoided during the second trimester of pregnancy include: 

  • Saunas, hot tubs, hot long baths and hot showers can overheat the body of the mother which can result in neural tube defects (birth defects in the baby) and even miscarriages in some cases, thus must be avoided by pregnant women.
  • High-intensity exercises such as weight training, heavy lifting and sit-ups must be avoided as they can induce premature labour and bleeding. 
  • Any exercise that involves lying on the back for too long must be avoided.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption as it has been associated with birth defects such as neural tube defects in the baby. 
  • Nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other chemicals present in the cigarette can pass through the placenta and result in miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), thus smoking must be avoided completely. 
  • Some vaccinations such as tuberculosis (BCG vaccine), MMR (vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella), polio and typhoid must be avoided as they increase the risk of infections and birth defects.
  • Household chemicals such as paint thinners, cleaners and air fresheners must be avoided as they can be toxic for the pregnant woman, 
  • Lead-based products (paint or dust), insecticides, pesticides and repellents must be avoided as their exposure can result in miscarriage, premature delivery and several birth defects.
  • Until necessary, exposure to x-rays and other radiations must be avoided.
  • Limiting caffeine consumption is necessary as it can affect the foetus negatively. 
  • Raw or undercooked meat, liver and seafood must not be consumed as it can cause various infections such as Listeria and toxoplasmosis. These infections can result in miscarriages and other pregnancy-related complications. 
  • Fishes such as king mackerel, tuna, shark, sea bass and tilefish must be avoided as they have high mercury content. 
  • Unpasteurised milk or milk products (such as cheese, and yoghurt) may contain infectious bacteria such as Campylobacter, Brucella and Listeria, which can result in miscarriage, preterm delivery and death of the foetus.
  • Over-the-counter medicines or any herbal supplements must not be consumed without consulting the doctor.

The second trimester is mostly a pleasant phase for pregnant women as the exhausting morning sickness of the first trimester disappears. The sleeping pattern and energy levels improve during the second trimester. Between the 16th and 20th week, the mother would also experience the baby fluttering, moving and kicking. The pregnant woman may experience back pain, leg cramps and abdominal pain in this trimester due to the growing foetus in the womb. For more information,

Consult Dr Suvarna P


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.


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