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6 Surprising (but Normal) Pregnancy Changes in Your Second Trimester

Welcome to the middle stretch of your pregnancy journey: the second trimester! You’ve conquered the initial hurdles of the first trimester and are now in a period often described as the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy. 

“During the second trimester – weeks 13 to 28 – you typically start to feel a little better and have more energy,” said Meghan MacCleary, DO, an OBGYN with Banner Health. “Often, the morning sickness of the first trimester has also passed, so your appetite has returned.” 

In addition, your baby now has functioning organs, nerves and muscles – and they will continue to grow and mature – meaning you may begin “showing” a pregnant belly.

But hold onto your baby bump! There are other exciting things to look forward to during the second trimester. Here are six surprising, but normal, things to expect during this phase of pregnancy.

1. A pregnancy glow…and other skin surprises

During this phase of pregnancy, your hair and skin may take center stage, looking healthier and more vibrant than ever. “Rising hormone levels like estrogen and progesterone can give your skin a ‘glow’ and often make your hair grow thicker,” Dr. MacCleary said. 

While hormones contribute to luscious locks, they can also lead to unexpected hair growth in places that may surprise you, like your chest, face and stomach. 

“You may also start to notice skin darkening or stretch marks, dark patches (melasma) on your face and a dark line down the middle of your belly (linea nigra),” Dr. MacCleary said.

You may consider safe hair removal methods if unwanted hair growth bothers you. For darkening skin and breakouts, maintain a gentle skincare routine, wear sunscreen outdoors and ask your health care provider for pregnancy-safe solutions, if needed.

2. A revved-up libido

Some pregnant people will have more energy for and interest in sex in the second trimester.
Thanks to hormonal fluctuations and increased blood flow to your pelvic area, many couples find themselves enjoying a boost in their intimate connection.

Dr. MacCleary said it is safe to have sex during pregnancy unless your provider has said otherwise. But she also noted that given all the changes your body is going through during this time, it is also OK if you have no interest in sex. 

“The key to enjoying sex and intimacy is lots of communication and making sure you and your partner are on the same page regarding your physical and emotional needs,” she said.

[Also read “Four Things to Know About Intimacy and Sex After Birth”]

3. Crazy dreams

In the second trimester, hormonal changes make dreams more vivid, wacky and intense. “You may experience recurring dreams and/or remember your dreams more than you have previously,” Dr. MacCleary said.

Another cause may be due to altered sleep patterns. Sleep during this time may be interrupted and irregular. You may wake up more to get comfortable or make more trips to the bathroom, which can affect your REM sleep pattern, a stage of sleep where most dreams happen.

It may help to keep a dream journal. If your dreams become worrisome, consider sharing them with your health care provider, counselor or therapist. 

[Also read “How to Beat Sleep Problems During Pregnancy”]

4. Feeling the flutters

Get ready for a magical moment — feeling your baby move for the first time! Many expectant parents experience these flutters or kicks during the second trimester, sometime between 18 to 20 weeks. Cherish these moments as they strengthen your connection with your growing baby. 

Your health care provider will discuss what to expect with fetal movements and when to start kick counts. “However, once you begin feeling movement, it is good to start noting the frequency and regularity,” Dr. MacCleary said.

5. Congestion woes

Are you feeling more stuffed up than usual? Your changing hormones may be to blame again.

“Estrogen and progesterone affect the blood flow to mucous membranes,” Dr. MacCleary said. “This can lead to swelling and cause more nose bleeds and nasal stuffiness called pregnancy rhinitis.”

Stay hydrated and consider using a humidifier. Your health care provider can also share safe remedies to alleviate your stuffy nose. Let them know if you start experiencing sinus pain and/or fever.

[Also read “How to Treat a Cold or Flu When You're Pregnant”]

6. Body changes

As your body adapts to your growing baby, you may notice changes such as backaches, round ligament pain and even swelling. Don’t be alarmed, as these are common during pregnancy. 

Consider exploring gentle exercises and stretches to help with discomfort and pamper yourself with well-deserved self-care like a prenatal massage. It may also be time to treat yourself to stretchy knits or maternity wear that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Call your provider

Amid the changes and excitement of the second trimester, it’s important to stay on top of your health. Trust your instincts and remember your provider is there to support you throughout this journey.

Contact your health care provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

Bottom line

The second trimester is a delightful mix of surprises, emotions and physical changes. Embrace this time, celebrate the milestones and remember that every pregnancy journey is unique. 

We wish you a wonderful second trimester and birth. Call your health care provider or a Banner Health specialist for any questions or concerns. 

For more pregnancy tips, check out:

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