Recapping the second trimester and providing recommendations for some of my favorite things during this trimester!
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Holy moly! I honestly can’t believe how fast this trimester flew by. My first trimester felt like it was going to last forever (because I felt so sick) and I remember in the beginning weeks thinking nine months sounded so, so long. But here we are, only 3 months to go, and I’m shocked that baby boy will be here before we know it!
During those trying first trimester months, everyone kept telling me that the second trimester was the most blissful and that I’d probably feel really good throughout. I have to say that they were (for the most part) spot on.
My morning (aka evening) sickness started to improve around week 13 (so I could eat Thanksgiving dinner and not want to vom – woohoo huge win!) and then week 14 was the last time I threw up (after trying to take my prenatals too late at night). After that, it was smooth sailing on the sickness front. I noticed my energy levels slowly starting to return and would say they were back to normal around week 16. But with the increased level of energy came an increased level of anxious energy (more on that later).
Second Trimester Physical Symptoms
Heartburn/Acid Reflux: As someone with IBS, I’ve dealt with heartburn on and off throughout my life so it wasn’t a huge surprise when this showed up in full force during the second trimester. I didn’t record exactly when this started and when it got pretty bad but I would guesstimate around 22 weeks.
It was pretty much all day long but worst in the evening. I started taking Tums and trying natural remedies like chewing almonds, taking apple cider vinegar, and Pregnancy Heartburn Tea. But none of these really seemed to work. I noticed my throat starting to become sore and I felt like I was constantly clearing my throat after I ate.
My midwife recommended Carafate (generic Sucralfate), which I had never heard of but it’s a medication that’s often prescribed to those trying to heal from an ulcer. It’s not a proton pump inhibitor or H2 blocker so it doesn’t actually block the acid from forming but it’s supposed to coat your esophagus and stomach to help it heal. My midwife suggested starting with this since she said it’s the most minimally absorbed and just stays within your GI tract.
After the first few days of taking it, I was like UGH this is not working and thought I would need something stronger. But luckily after about a week of taking it, I noticed small improvements. And now having taken it regularly for about a month I notice a difference when I forget a dose. So I’m happy that it’s working for me. I wouldn’t say it’s resolved my heartburn 100% but it’s significantly improved it!
Constipation: Yeah, I’m going there. If there’s one thing I don’t shy away from as a RD, it’s talking about poop. I was very regular (like daily) throughout the entire pregnancy but then things started to shift around week 24.
I wasn’t going as frequently and then I would have a bowel movement but I would be straining and a couple times have gotten fissures – these are not fun and are painful but apparently it’s practice for what I hear is likely to come postpartum :). I’ve been trying to increase my water and fiber intake and it’s gotten better on its own but am planning to take a stool softener if it persists or gets worse.
Round ligament pain: I only experience this when walking and the best way I can describe it is it feels like a painful stretch of my belly. When I notice it, I just start walking much slower or cut my walk short which helps. I also think the Spinning Babies poses have helped a little (see more on that below). We usually do stretches in prenatal yoga class, which help with this too, like cat/cow for instance.
Skin Rashes. Early on in the second trimester, I started developing red, scaly skin around my eyes, and around the same time, developed a red, itchy rash in my armpits. I started looking at my skincare products to see if I could pinpoint anything that would’ve brought this on but no luck.
A doctor at my PCP office recommended an antifungal cream for my armpits, which helped get rid of the itching, but not the rash itself. I started using Eucerin cream around my eyes, which helped but then the rashes would just come back.
I finally got in to see my dermatologist a few weeks ago and she recommended a low potency steroid cream, which I just started using in my armpits because the itching was getting old, and it seems to be helping already. I’ve never dealt with skin issues since having eczema in childhood so it’s weird to see this stuff popping up now but hormones, man, they do all sorts of whacky things.
Emotional Health During Second Trimester
If the first trimester was more physical in nature, the second trimester definitely has felt more emotional. The beginning was heightened levels of anxiety. All of the sudden with this newfound energy, I had all this anxious energy to deal with. I also started freaking out about everything “I had to do” that I’d been putting off during the first trimester because I didn’t feel well. And the first thing on my list was to interview and hire a doula since I read they tend to book up quickly.
Why a Doula?
I knew I wanted to work with a doula because I’m big on support. I’ve been a big advocate for mental health and have been in therapy regularly since 2015. I also love the idea of women supporting women during labor. And once I started educating myself on labor and delivery and the type of birth I would (ideally) like to have, I felt strongly that a doula could help me advocate for myself and keep me focused and empowered during L&D. Plus, I’m a research nerd and appreciated all the stats on better outcomes for births with doulas vs. without.
Steve is totally on board with having a doula and thought it would be a great idea for me since day one given my personality. Our doula is big on educating and empowering the partner so that she can help support Steve during the process too and help him essentially help me LOL.
Our doula is also a Spinning Babies Certified Instructor and I was familiar with this through my prenatal yoga classes because my yoga teacher is also a Spinning Babies Instructor and I appreciated the idea of learning different exercises and positions I could practice now that would help support baby into an optimal position for labor.
Steve and I took the Spinning Babies class at 24 weeks with our doula (even though she typically recommends them a little closer to your due date) because my yoga teacher told me it could be helpful for my round ligament pain. I think it does help…when I’m consistent with doing it…which TBH it’s hard for me to do these exercises daily. They’re not intensive or time consuming but I often remember at night when Steve and I are kind of checked out (I need his help for some of them).
Changing Providers in the Second Trimester
Once I started interviewing doulas, I started getting very similar negative opinions about the hospital I planned on delivering at. Some of the doulas I spoke with don’t even support births at this hospital anymore because they saw their clients having such negative experiences there. I chose this hospital because it’s one of the best in Boston and it’s one of the top hospitals in the country. Because they are “the best”, they see a lot of high-risk pregnancies and as a result I’ve heard are intervention happy. Not that there is anything wrong with interventions used during L&D but I’ve thankfully had a healthy pregnancy thus far and am not considered high-risk at this point.
At this point, I started researching some of the other hospitals in the area that are known for being more supportive of low-intervention and unmedicated births (I’m not planning on an unmedicated birth but I would like the option to try).
Then I started looking into midwife groups at these hospitals as the midwifery philosophy (viewing childbirth as a natural physiologic process) always resonated with me more. At first, Steve was opposed to midwifery care but I think this just came from a lack of education. Once we started watching Meet the Midwives webinars and he realized just how well educated and trained Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are, he started to come around and actually started to lean more in the direction of switching from OB to midwifery care.
All of this gave me SO much anxiety. Logically I knew there was no right or wrong decision but emotionally I felt like there was and I was terrified of making “the wrong” decision. Because of course this decision would not only affect me but also our baby.
After talking to different friends and connecting with other local Moms on Facebook, I ultimately decided to switch providers to a midwifery practice and to switch hospitals. I had one final appointment at my OBGYN practice after I made the decision and it was an awful appointment where I felt so rushed, not heard, and felt like the doctor was talking at me instead of hearing me and having a discussion.
I left that appointment feeling really empowered in the decision that I made and trusted in my gut that I made the best decision for our care. But man there was a lot of stress leading up to that. And for context, big decisions give me anxiety at baseline so throw pregnancy hormones and a baby in the mix and it was a lot.
If you’re considering switching providers during your pregnancy, I want you to know that it’s very common and yet folks don’t talk about it often enough. Once I started sharing that I was changing providers, I started to hear from other women who had done the same. The bottom line is you deserve quality prenatal care that is respectful and inclusive. You deserve to feel heard by your team. If you’re not feeling heard or respected, I hope you will feel empowered to find another provider/team. Remember, you’re not alone! I ended up officially switching around 24 weeks (when I saw my new provider) but made the decision around 20/21 weeks. I’ve heard of plenty of women who have switched later in their pregnancies too!
That was probably the biggest stressor during my second trimester but little things would give me anxiety too like working on the registry and researching different products and reading reviews (again decision making is not my forte), COVID and worrying about exposure, the anatomy scan (and finding out once we got there Steve couldn’t come with me despite being told before he could), worrying about gestational diabetes and my glucose tolerance test (which I just found out today was normal), baby’s movement and how my anxiety is impacting him….and so on.
I also noticed this trimester that I’m crying a lot more than normal. Definitely some mood swings happening where emotionally I’ll feel really great for a week or so and then hit a wall and be super depressed…maybe that’s more to do with the one year anniversary of the pandemic and Boston winter than anything else but I do think the pregnancy hormones are playing a role too.
Luckily, I have a lot of emotional support and am grateful to have access to therapy during this time. I also have been using the pregnancy meditation course on the Headspace app and connecting with other pregnant women virtually through my weekly prenatal yoga class. That community support has been really nice although of course I wish we were connecting in-person.
Movement During Second Trimester
I think I mentioned that I didn’t do much movement (besides occasional walks/hikes and PT) during my first trimester because I wasn’t feeling well. Once I started to feel better and got my energy back, I added in prenatal yoga and prenatal pilates. These have both felt really good in my body and I feel like I’m supporting my here-and-now body without pushing it. I still go on walks regularly too because fresh air is good for my soul and mental health.
I also signed up for a 3 week ecstatic dance series a month ago because I love dancing and felt like my body just needed to move freely to move through some pandemic wall stuckness. It was awesome and a cool experience to dance with this other being inside me.
My biggest piece of advice is to try a few different forms of movement and just see what feels best in your body.
Not that you can avoid aches and pains in pregnancy and of course every body is different but I do feel that the yoga and pilates and walking have probably helped me to feel overall physically good so far during my pregnancy.
Eating During Second Trimester
Goodbye food aversions, HELLO ICE CREAM! LOL that is how I would sum up my eating during the last few months. Also, this was a proud moment when the pint could rest on my belly.
But seriously, with the decrease in evening sickness, my food aversions also improved drastically. I’ve been able to pretty much eat anything now but will say that I still don’t love chicken and fish in the evening for dinner as much as I used to.
In terms of “cravings” I haven’t had anything so intense or strange probably because I honor my cravings when I’m not pregnant and so there isn’t this newfound freedom to eat whatever I want during pregnancy. That being said, I have noticed some shifts. For instance, I would never crave ice cream or smoothies in the winter time because my body would not want cold things but I’ve LOVED ice cream and smoothies this winter LOL. Like nothing makes me happier these days than pulling a pint of ice cream out of the freezer :).
I was really into juice during the first half of the second trimester but I feel like that’s died down a bit now. I still eat a yogurt pretty much every single day, which is still hilarious to me because I hadn’t eaten yogurt in years (historically it has given me digestive problems).
I remember at the beginning of the second trimester feeling a sense of worry because as a dietitian of course I know how many more calories you’re supposed to have a day during this trimester and I remember thinking at some points maybe I should track just to make sure I’m getting enough. And I worried that maybe listening to my body wouldn’t be enough.
Well, I’m happy to say that I know myself well enough to not go down that slippery slope and I just listened to my body in terms of hunger and when to eat / how much to eat, and assumed that if there were any issues with baby’s growth / my weight gain that we would find out at an appointment and then I could make changes as needed. But of course, that hasn’t happened and my body is doing its thing without me micromanaging it, which is awesome to see. Pregnancy has definitely opened me up to a whole new practice of body trust that I never anticipated.
Favorite Maternity Clothes
I started showing earlier than I think most (like around week 13) probably because I’m short and have a pretty short torso, so this meant I also started shopping for maternity clothes early on. I bought some items from Target early on – tops, sweaters, a pair of leggings – some I’ve gotten use out of, others not so much.
Target Maternity Leggings. I’m OBSESSED with these leggings. They are super stretchy and comfy and I love that they go up over your belly and actually stay up. Highly recommend!
Lululemon Align Leggings. I had a pair I wore before I got pregnant and loved them. I heard so many pregnant friends talk about these leggings that I knew they would serve me well during pregnancy too so I ended up ordering another pair. My only gripe with these is they often fall down below my belly, especially if I’m walking or moving so I do frequently have to pull them up over my belly. But so far at 28 weeks my pre-pregnancy size still fits and they do stretch really well.
Girlfriend Collective Maternity Leggings and Nursing Bra. I was psyched when I learned this company launched a maternity line. I love how inclusive their brand is and how their clothing is eco-friendly (made from recycled bottles!). I got a pair of their maternity leggings and nursing sports bra for Christmas and I like having a matching set and the fact that their leggings come up over my belly AND stay up!
Target Maternity Jogger Pants Another obsession from Target! I bought two pairs of these after I saw my friend Alexis recommend them on her page. They are SO comfy and I love wearing them around the house…or let’s be real outside the house…because who gets dressed up anymore?!
Nursing Bras from Target. I bought these very early on (in my first trimester) because my boobs were so sore that my regular bras (with underwire) felt painful. These are so comfy and know they will come in handy postpartum too.
This photo shows the Target nursing bra and jogger pants!
Aerie for new underwear/bras. I needed to size up in my underwear and regular bra and I love Aerie for comfortable and reasonably priced panties/bras!
Maternity Coat. I was hoping I could get away with not spending the money on a new coat but I was squeezing into my regular winter coat for far too long. And with Boston’s long and unpredictable winter that can sometimes stick around into the beginning of spring, I figured I would just spend the money and be comfortable. Plus, I felt better spending the money knowing that I could wear this coat with baby if needed because it comes with a zip-off kangaroo panel for wearing with a baby carrier or sling. And, I feel like I could wear it even when I’m not pregnant.
Things I haven’t worn:
Bulky maternity sweaters – I run warm these days so if I put one on I usually end up taking it off an hour later.
Maternity jeans from Madewell – my Mom got me a pair of these jeans for Christmas and I wore them once…at Christmas…I’m sure if I was doing more social stuff and going into an office, I would have gotten more use out of these but since I’m just WFH and staying at home these days, I have no use for jeans lol. Sorry, Ma.
Other Second Trimester Favorites
Bringing Up Bébé Book. I’m just about through with this book and I’ve really enjoyed it. It highlights the differences between French parenting and American parenting so it’s educational but is written more like a memoir of an American woman who brings up her children while living in France so it’s also pretty entertaining.
It’s definitely opened up my eyes to some of the ways I hope to parent (and how the French government does a whole lot more for women in terms of quality and affordable childcare). Funny enough, Steve picked up the book one day (after having said he doesn’t need to read parenting books) and he’s also really enjoying reading it now :). The one caveat is there is some diet culture/fat phobic language in the book so if that’s triggering for you, perhaps pass on this one or skip over those parts.
PharmMeDoc Pregnancy Pillow. I figured I’d need a pregnancy pillow down the line to help with a good night’s sleep and reduce some aches and pains (and help keep me in a supportive sleeping position – aka off my stomach). I ordered this one earlier on in my second trimester from a friend’s rec but I wasn’t having it when I tried sleeping with it early on. It was making my sleep actually worse. So I put it away and hoped that I would have a need for it later on.
And of course, eventually I did. I noticed I wasn’t sleeping as well and it was harder for me to get in a comfortable position so I thought maybe the pillow would help and I’d give it another shot. And now I won’t sleep without it! It makes sleeping so much more comfortable. The only downside is it takes up a lot of space in bed lol – sorry Steve! Steve is also v jealous of said pregnancy pillow and wants one for himself now.
Bump Box Subscription. My Mom got me a subscription after we shared the news with them. It’s basically a subscription box for expectant mamas. It’s certainly not something I think you need to have during your pregnancy but it’s a nice surprise every month opening up the box and seeing what’s inside. I’ve gotten everything from skin care/bath products to a photo album to a coffee mug. It’s a cute idea if you’re looking to pamper someone with gifts during their pregnancy!
Belly Balms. I love a well moisturized belly bump! This must be a go-to gift for pregnant folks because I currently have three different ones at home. I bought myself Mustella Cream and then was gifted Summer Fridays Babymoon Belly Balm and duross & langel’s belly balm. They are all wonderful – the Mustella is more of a cream consistency whereas Summer Fridays feels like butter going on (in a luscious, non greasy way), and I like duross & langel because it comes in a deodorant applicator so you don’t have to get your hands greasy. I don’t use them religiously but do always apply it after I take a shower when my skin tends to be most dry.
Nesting. It’s funny how I naturally have been inclined to want to suddenly organize everything in my house. We just reorganized my home office a couple weekends ago. We’ve gone through our spare bedroom (which will become the nursery), the bathroom, and we’re slowly going through our kitchen. I also decided one weekend to clean out my nightstand and throw out/store all the papers and cards and stuff that was starting to (literally) overflow the drawers.
Babylist Baby Registry. I loved just having one registry and Babylist lets you pull items from any website you want. If you’re interested in a separate post about what to register for, let me know in the comments!
Choline supplement. I mentioned in my first trimester post which prenatals I’ve been taking. When I started to feel better in my second trimester and could stomach the idea of another vitamin to take, I ordered choline. My prenatal contains some choline but only about 20% DV which is pretty typical of prenatals with choline.
Why choline? There has been a lot of new research that’s come out in the last few years on choline and how it’s important for fetal brain development and memory and cognition. Most people and especially pregnant women don’t meet the recommended daily amount for choline, probably because there are few foods that contain a decent amount of choline.
Well 6 months down, 3 more to go! Let me know if you have any questions – I’d love to support you on your pregnancy journey! And stay tuned in a few months for a third trimester recap!