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Trimester 2

Week 13 - your second trimester

Amazingly you are now a third of the way through your pregnancy! You're hopefully through the worst of your symptoms and the risk of having a miscarriage has plummeted. This is the glorious second trimester… enjoy it!

What's happening in my body?

Well? Can you see it yet? A small baby bump may now be visible as your womb grows upwards and outwards. If you've been feeling the urge to pee a lot, then that should stop as the womb shifts away from your bladder. By the way, it shouldn't hurt when you pee. If it does, then see your doctor, as you could have a urine infection. Meanwhile, there's a lot more blood pumping around your pelvic area and some women find that it sends their sex drive through the roof. It could also make you feel more thirsty. So drink more water or have more sex – that's up to you! Sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe, unless your midwife or doctor has advised you otherwise.

Infection alert

Unless you live in a bubble, it's impossible to avoid contact with all infections – but there are ways you can protect yourself and the baby from many harmful viruses and bacteria:

  • Try to avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or rubella – talk to your doctor or midwife ASAP if you think you could be infected.
  • Delegate emptying the cat litter tray, as the faeces could contain a bug called toxoplasma gondii. This can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis that could damage your unborn baby.
  • You can also get toxoplasmosis from certain foods. Foods to avoid during pregnancy include undercooked meats, cured meats like salami, and unpasteurised goats' milk and cheese.
  • Seek advice before travelling to any area affected by the Zika virus, as the virus can cause birth defects.

Teething troubles

Have you got swollen, painful and bleeding gums? That's common during pregnancy. Your teeth are more likely to get covered in sticky plaque, and if it's not removed then that can lead to gum disease. This is due to your pregnancy hormones – you can pretty much blame your hormones for everything over the next six months!

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 13 weeks)

Thankfully we've waved goodbye to the tricky first trimester. With any luck, you can now enjoy your pregnancy, without being sick or rushing off to the loo every five minutes! Of course, there will be niggles but you shouldn't be in pain, and if you are, see your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. Your signs of pregnancy could include:

  • swollen and bleeding gums (see box 'Brushing up')
  • pains on the side of your belly caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

Week 14 – your second trimester

Welcome to week 14! You're probably feeling more like yourself again now, after the tricky first trimester. As your energy soars, you may find that your appetite does too… but take it easy. Your baby doesn't need any extra calories now, and too much weight gain in pregnancy isn't good for you or the baby. If you get hungry between meals then ditch the crisps and top yourself up with super snacks that will give you a healthy boost.

What's happening in my body?

It's 'all systems go' inside your pregnant belly. There's still a lot more growing to do, but everything's in place. You have an extra organ in your body that wasn't there 14 weeks ago, and that's the placenta. The placenta is pancake shaped – the word placenta means 'flat cake' in Latin. It's full of blood and pumps out nutrients, oxygen and hormones, while removing waste products such as carbon dioxide. The placenta is firmly attached to your womb and links up with your baby through the umbilical cord. Your blood and the baby's blood come into close contact in the placenta – but they won't ever mix. That's because you might be different blood groups, and mixing them up could be dangerous. Your body's thought of everything!

Busting out

Many women love it when their breasts get bigger. However others hate the extra weight, as it gives them backache, and swollen breasts can be painful. You could also get stretch marks and big blue veins. As usual, your hormones are to blame, along with the extra blood that's now circulating around your body. Keep an eye out for any yellow stains in your bra. This is probably colostrum, which is the first milk produced by mums-to-be. It's telling you that your breasts are raring to go, so go with the flow. If it's a problem, then start using breast pads. Ask the doctor or midwife to have a look if you're worried about any changes. Don't be embarrassed – they've seen breasts before!

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 14 weeks)

Hopefully you're looking and feeling much better now. That first trimester really was a slog, wasn't it? However you may still be getting a smorgasbord of symptoms. Your signs of pregnancy could include:

  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

Week 15 – your second trimester

You might see people looking curiously at your stomach now – is she or isn't she? Although you may think that you look obviously pregnant, others might not want to ask, in case you've just been at the biscuit barrel. If you regularly travel on public transport, then you might want to order a badge to prompt other commuters into giving up their seat for you. It's amazing how many people 'fall asleep' on the train and fail to notice even very heavily pregnant women. You might feel fine now, but as you get bigger, you will be more unstable on your feet, and falling over could be stressful and even dangerous.

What's happening in my body?

Things are tightening up in your tummy. There's a lot to pack in there – your baby's growing quickly and comes with a lot of packaging (the amniotic sac and fluid) and their own food supply (placenta). You could start getting the odd jabbing pain on the sides of your bump. It's known as 'round ligament pain', and putting your feet up and resting can help. Your skin could also feel a bit itchy. Try rubbing an unperfumed moisturiser over your stomach, wear loose cotton clothing and have a cool bath. If the itching starts to drive you crazy, and particularly if it strikes at night, then see your doctor or midwife, as it could be the sign of a liver condition called 'obstetric cholestasis'. However, it's much more likely to be caused by your hormones.

That's pants!

Have you noticed a lot of discharge in your knickers? Many women get this. There's more blood flowing around your pelvic area and that can cause your body to produce more of the milky fluid called leucorrhoea that keeps your vagina clean and free from infection. See your doctor or midwife if:

  • it changes colour – it should be clear, white or creamy.
  • it starts smelling badly – it should smell slightly musky, not strongly of fish or anything else.
  • it changes texture – for example, it starts going frothy or looks like cottage cheese.
  • you get pain when peeing.
  • you feel itchy or sore. Any of these signs could mean that you've got a vaginal infection, so get checked out as this could be easily treated.

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 15 weeks)

This could be your pregnancy sweet spot – hopefully by now you're feeling good, the baby's growing nicely, and any symptoms are manageable. However not every woman is that lucky. Your signs of pregnancy could include:

  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

Week 16 – your second trimester

Big things are happening. Your baby is growing quickly and about to undergo another massive growth spurt. You will probably have put on some weight over the past few weeks (2 to 4kg) but that's just a guide, as every pregnancy is different.

What's happening in my body?

You'll soon find out, in great detail. You'll probably see a midwife around now, who'll weigh you and talk to you about how you're getting on. You might get to hear your baby's heartbeat for the first time. You will also get the results of any blood tests that you had at your booking appointment, which could reveal everything from your blood type to whether your iron levels are low. You will probably have been offered a test for three infectious diseases: HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis. If an infection has been picked up, then your midwife or doctor will talk to you about the best ways to protect your health and reduce the risk of passing on the infection to your baby. Your blood pressure will be checked and you'll pee into a tiny cup to give a urine sample. This will be checked for signs of protein that could show if you're at risk of developing a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia.

Hang loose – easing constipation

You know that horrible, blocked-up feeling when you just. Can't. Get. It. Out? Yes, that's right. Constipation. This painful condition is common early in pregnancy, the hormonal changes in your body, but it can strike at any time. It's when you really want to poo, but your body has other ideas. This could make you feel bloated, sick and give you tummy ache. To fight back:

  • eat foods that are high in fibre, such as wholemeal bread, fruit and veg, beans and lentils.
  • exercise regularly.
  • drink lots of water.
  • avoid iron supplements (but talk to your doctor or midwife before ditching any medication).

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 16 weeks)

You know you're supposed to feel better now – everyone tells you that – but what if you don't? First of all, everyone's pregnancy is different. If you have it tough now, then maybe you'll breeze through your third trimester. If you feel unwell and it's getting you down, then speak to your doctor or midwife. There's lots of support available and pregnancy isn't about soldiering on alone. You're at the centre of a big team now who will want to support you.

Your signs of pregnancy could include:
  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding

Week 17 – your second trimester

It could just be wind – but those funny feelings in your belly might be your baby moving. This is a major milestone and a highlight of many pregnancies. Right now, you won't be able to tell exactly what your baby's up to. But soon you could be feeling every kick, punch, hiccup and somersault. There's lots more happening this week too…

What's happening in my body?

Week by week, your baby's getting bigger, and so is your placenta, which is feeding your baby and also removing waste. By the end of your pregnancy the placenta will weigh around 500g, which is as heavy as a packet of pasta. Your waist will start to vanish as your womb moves up and out of your pelvis. This will make you look more obviously 'pregnant' and, with any luck, you'll start to 'bloom' too. Many women look and feel amazing when they're pregnant. They have glossy, full hair (as hair loss is slowed down) and radiant skin (caused by a boost in blood volume and hormones). However, everyone's different, and some women feel unattractive and overwhelmed by their changing body, the responsibility of having a baby and the strain it can put on relationships. Around 1 in 10 women feel stressed or anxious during their pregnancy, and your hormones can make even small problems feel so much worse than they really are. If you feel sad or worried, then talk to your doctor or midwife – there's a big support network out there for you.

A moving experience

Have you felt your baby move yet? Many women spot the first signs of movement at 18 to 20 weeks, but it could be earlier than this. Inside your baby belly, you might feel:

  • bubbling
  • fluttering
  • rolling

This is known as 'quickening' and it's a reassuring sign that your baby is thriving. In a few weeks, the signs will be much more obvious. You might even be able to tell the difference between punching and kicking. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt, it just takes you by surprise, and it's very strange to see your belly move as a little foot kicks out! Share the experience with your partner and let them place their hand on your bump when the baby's moving. You might find that your baby moves more…

  • after meals
  • when you listen to loud music
  • when you rub your tummy and talk to your baby
  • when you really, really want to go to sleep!

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 17 weeks)

You may be getting a few pains and niggles as your bump gets bigger. Your symptoms should be manageable, and if they're not, talk to your doctor or midwife.

Your signs of pregnancy could include:
  • tiredness and sleeping problems
  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

Week 18 – your second trimester

What a week! It's all happening now. You could feel your baby move for the first time. Plus you could see your baby in close-up if you choose to have an anomaly scan. Week by week, you're ticking off new milestones in your pregnancy. You may feel happy, sad, excited or nervous – sometimes all at once! It's an emotional roller-coaster, so hold on tight…

What's happening in my body?

You might be starting to feel a bit clumsier as your belly gets bigger. Your breasts may have gone up a size, too, particularly if it's your first pregnancy. Your blood pressure is probably a bit lower than it was, so don't leap up from the sofa, or it could make you feel dizzy. Your baby has been moving around for the past couple of months, but you wouldn't have noticed because they were so small. Now, you might start to feel some movement – it's like a bubbling or fluttering inside your belly. You may also notice a line down your stomach, called the linea nigra (Latin for 'black line'). This is normal skin pigmentation and nothing to worry about. It will probably vanish a few months after your baby's born.

Your anomaly scan

You'll be offered an anomaly scan at around 18 to 20 weeks. This is a scan that looks at your baby in detail to see if there is anything unusual about their development and appearance. It can pick up a range of conditions, but not all of them. You don't have to have this scan – it's up to you. The scan won't hurt you or your baby but it could feel a bit uncomfortable as the sonographer may have to apply a bit of pressure on your stomach to get the best possible view. Usually, the scan will show that the baby is healthy. However, sometimes the scan could pick up something you're not expecting. If this is the case, then you may be offered further tests. You can decide whether to have them or not.

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 18 weeks)

With any luck you're getting into the groove and can manage your symptoms as your body expands. You should never feel in agony, or unable to cope, so talk to your midwife or doctor if you find yourself struggling with your day-to-day life.

Your signs of pregnancy could include:

  • stretch marks
  • tiredness and sleeping problems
  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains') headaches nosebleeds bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

Week 19 – your second trimester

You're nearly at the halfway point so why not crack open a bottle of sparkling water to celebrate this achievement? You're probably starting to feel less agile now and may be getting tired from lack of sleep or lugging around the extra weight. Tempting though it is to stay on the sofa, get out there and do some exercise, but try not to overdo it, as you're carrying precious cargo…

What's happening in my body?

Week by week, as your bump gets bigger, some of the things that you used to take for granted will become more challenging. By week 40, you'll be cheering if you can put on your socks! It's great for you and baby to stay active, but some exercises, such as running, could become uncomfortable. That's because the hormone, relaxin, loosens up your ligaments, leaving your back, knees and ankles without their usual support. You should be able to talk when you exercise (it's called the 'talk test'), so make sure that you can chat away when you do your Couch to 5k. Meanwhile, your baby's practising kung fu… at least that's how it will feel in a few weeks' time! You might think that bubbling is wind, but it could be your baby moving. You'll soon be able to pinpoint every kick, punch and somersault.

The big sleep

If you admit to problems sleeping, then you'll probably get lots of jokey comments such as: 'Just wait 'til the baby's born'. However, lack of sleep is no laughing matter. It can be a sign of depression or anxiety. You may also find yourself up all night with aches and pains, toilet trips, leg cramps, indigestion, heartburn and nightmares. Not getting enough sleep in pregnancy can be very upsetting, and worrying about it only makes things worse. Try these four tips:

  • 1. Practise 'beditation' – a mixture of meditation and gentle stretches designed to help you drift off.
  • 2. See if Sleepio could help you – it's an app that looks at your lifestyle and gives you weekly access to a sleep expert called 'the Prof'. It's available on the NHS in some areas.
  • 3. Take a free online sleep test for personalised advice.
  • 4. Sleep on your side, and use pillows to support your bump and any aching muscles. Also try sleeping with a pillow between your knees.

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 19 weeks)

Are you worried about anything? Trust your instincts and share any concerns with your health professional. The baby charity Tommy's has created a video to help you speak up with confidence. Your signs of pregnancy this week could include:

  • tiredness and sleeping problems
  • stretch marks
  • swollen and bleeding gums
  • pains on the side of your pregnant belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating and constipation
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • sore breasts
  • leg cramps
  • feeling hot
  • dizziness
  • swollen hands and feet
  • urine infections
  • vaginal infections
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)
  • Week 20 – your second trimester

    You're halfway through your pregnancy now! Just 20 weeks ago, you were carrying on with your life as usual… and now you've got another human being growing inside you. You've come a long way. Enjoy the rest of the journey!

    What's happening in my body?

    You may have your anomaly scan this week, where you can meet and greet your baby. The sonographer will be checking on your baby's development and will also examine your placenta (that's the pancake-shaped organ in your body that feeds your baby and removes waste). You might find yourself being woken up at night by sudden sharp pains in your calves. That's probably cramp, which is common in pregnancy. It's caused by muscular spasms, and it can feel like you're being stabbed in the leg for up to 10 minutes. Rub the muscle hard, or pull your toes up towards your ankle. Exercising more in the day could help you to avoid this. When you're sitting on the bus, or daydreaming at your desk.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 20 weeks)

    Hopefully you're glowing with happiness and bursting with energy. Seeing your baby at the anomaly scan gives many women a real boost. However not everyone's the same, and you could be starting to get tired and even a bit grumpy as your body changes and life as you knew it starts to slip away. Your signs of pregnancy this week could include:

    • tiredness and sleeping problems
    • stretch marks
    • swollen and bleeding gums
    • pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
    • headaches
    • nosebleeds
    • bloating and constipation
    • indigestion and heartburn
    • sore breasts
    • leg cramps
    • feeling hot
    • dizziness
    • swollen hands and feet
    • urine infections
    • vaginal infections
    • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • greasier, spotty skin
    • thicker and shinier hair
    • symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

    Week 21 – your second trimester

    As you cruise into the second half of your pregnancy, you'll be entering a period of rapid growth. If you think you're big now, then just wait… Meanwhile your baby is getting ready for life outside the womb and developing essential skills including sucking and breathing.

    What's happening in my body?

    You could start feeling rather wobbly as your bump gets bigger. It's hardly surprising if you're clumsier than usual, as your centre of gravity has changed and your joints are looser. If you fall over, don't panic, as there's lots of cushioning in your belly to protect your baby. That's what the amniotic sac is for. However, for peace of mind, you should get checked out by your midwife or doctor if you do take a tumble. If you travel on public transport, think about getting a 'baby on board' badge to prompt other commuters to give up their precious seats. Your baby is moving around a lot now, and establishing waking and sleeping patterns. The only trouble is, your baby may be raring to go just when you want to nod off. Have power naps when you can to make up for lost sleep at night.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 21 weeks)

    Hopefully you're feeling good now. Don't ignore any painful symptoms and assume they'll go away. If you have a severe headache that lasts for more than two or three hours, and isn't helped by paracetamol, then call your midwife, GP surgery or NHS 111. It's very unlikely, but it could be a sign of a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia. This affects some women in the second half of their pregnancy. However it's much more likely that you're not drinking enough water, so make sure that you stay hydrated and drink at least eight medium glasses of fluid a day (for example, fruit juice, water, fruit teas and milk). This week, your signs of pregnancy could include:

    • tiredness and sleeping problems
    • stretch marks
    • swollen and bleeding gums
    • pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • piles
    • headaches
    • backache
    • nosebleeds
    • indigestion and heartburn
    • bloating and constipation
    • leg cramps
    • feeling hot
    • dizziness
    • swollen hands and feet
    • urine infections
    • vaginal infections
    • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • greasier, spotty skin
    • thicker and shinier hair
    • symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

    Week 22 – your second trimester

    Welcome to week 22 of your pregnancy. This is a good week to love your bump. Talk to it. Sing to it. Caress it with moisturiser and you might even feel a little flutter in response. It's all part of bonding with your unborn baby who, as you can probably tell, is getting bigger and bigger by the day…

    What's happening in my body?

    Many women are excited to see their bump grow – but less happy when they notice that it's covered in red and purple streaks. These are stretch marks, caused by your pregnancy hormones and the rapid stretching of your skin. They might look scary, but they're harmless to you and the baby. There's not a lot that you can do to either prevent them or make them vanish, but you could try gently massaging your bump with a non-perfumed moisturiser. After the birth, the marks will probably fade to silver. If you can see them at all, they'll be your pregnancy badge of honour. You might also notice that your breasts are becoming a bit leaky. This is their way of prepping for the birth. Use breast pads to stop your clothes getting stained – you might as well stock up, as you'll probably need a stack after the birth.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 22 weeks)

    Aches and pains are very common in pregnancy, but sometimes it's hard to know what's serious and what's not. Your best bet is to talk to your midwife or doctor, or call NHS 111. If you're in severe pain, or start bleeding from your vagina, then get immediate help. This week, your signs of pregnancy could include:

    • tiredness and sleeping problems
    • stretch marks swollen and bleeding gums
    • pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • piles
    • headaches
    • backache
    • nosebleeds
    • indigestion and heartburn
    • bloating and constipation
    • leg cramps
    • feeling hot
    • dizziness
    • swollen hands and feet
    • urine infections
    • vaginal infections
    • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • greasier, spotty skin
    • thicker and shinier hair
    • symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding).

    Week 23 – your second trimester

    Week by week, you're hitting new milestones in your pregnancy as your baby prepares for life outside the womb. Around this time, your baby is practising breathing, and getting into patterns of sleeping and waking. Unfortunately, they won't always coincide with when you want to sleep – but that's babies for you!

    What's happening in my body?

    Have a good look at your breasts. Big, aren't they? They may be starting to leak colostrum, which is an early type of milk. Do you think you'll want to breastfeed? This gives your baby a flying start by boosting their immunity so they can fight off infections. It's good for you too, as it lowers your risk of breast cancer and burns around 300 calories a day. That's equivalent to a breakfast burrito followed by a choc cherry popcorn cake. Find out more about breastfeeding. It might help to involve your partner too. This week, you may start to get rib pain as your rib cage expands to accommodate your bump. You could be feeling a bit more breathless than usual as the growing baby puts pressure on your lungs. The best remedy is to put your feet up and relax. If you're worried about any symptoms of pregnancy, talk to your midwife or doctor. They will want to help you have a healthy and happy pregnancy!

    Beyond the pale: staying sun safe

    Did you know that even on a cloudy day, your skin could burn? Unfortunately, this is more likely to happen when you're pregnant, as your skin is more sensitive. The bad news for sun-worshippers is that sunburn increases your chances of skin cancer – and that's even if you just go pink, you don't have to peel or look like a lobster. Cover up and head for the shade if you're going outdoors when the sun is at its strongest. That's between 11am and 3pm, from March to October. So even if you're just popping to the shops… Choose a high-factor suncream (15+) with at least fourstar UVA protection Apply a nice thick layer to all exposed skin There's no such thing as a safe tan – and fake tans can be risky too – so don't bother with either, and stay safe this summer.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 23 weeks)

    No matter how excited you are about having a baby, anxiety might be creeping in as your bump gets bigger. Try taking the NHS mood self assessment quiz, which helps you work out how you're feeling. If you're getting mood swings or feeling stressed, talk to your midwife or doctor. Take along a printout of your mood quiz results. This week, your signs of pregnancy could also include:

    • tiredness and sleeping problems
    • stretch marks
    • swollen and bleeding gums
    • pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • piles
    • headaches
    • backache
    • nosebleeds
    • indigestion and heartburn
    • bloating and constipation
    • leg cramps
    • feeling hot
    • dizziness
    • swollen hands and feet
    • urine infections
    • vaginal infections
    • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • greasier, spotty skin
    • thicker and shinier hair
    • symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

    Week 24 – your second trimester

    Here's some incredible, stop-the-press news – your baby is now considered 'viable' which means they could survive if they were born right now and given the right support. Obviously an early arrival is not what anybody wants, but it's good to know that your baby would be in with a fighting chance.

    What's happening in my body?

    You may start to feel really hungry, but you don't actually need to eat any more until the third trimester of your pregnancy – that's from week 28 onwards. You're likely to be putting on weight, but don't worry if you can barely see your bump, as every pregnancy is different. Your midwife or doctor will tell you if everything's coming along nicely. Don't listen to friends, family, and people on the bus telling you that you look too big or too small. Chances are, you're just right for you!

    Booze news

    Many women find it hard to give up alcohol. As you start to feel yourself again, it's tempting to slide back into your prepregnancy ways and turn to your favourite tipples. Just remember that:

    • The alcohol goes to your baby too.
    • There are no 'safe' limits – so it's best to drink no alcohol at all.
    • The risks for your baby include miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 24 weeks)

    Week by week, as your pregnancy progresses, you could be developing strange new symptoms. Around now, you could be getting pains around your ribs, back, breasts, bottom, stomach… basically anywhere and everywhere! This is partly due to your pregnancy hormones loosing up your ligaments and muscles, and also due to that growing baby of yours pushing onto various parts of your body.

    This week, your signs of pregnancy could include:

    • Tiredness and sleeping problems
    • Stretch marks
    • Swollen and bleeding gums
    • Pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • Piles
    • Headaches
    • Backache
    • Nosebleeds
    • Indigestion and heartburn
    • Bloating and constipation
    • Leg cramps
    • Feeling hot
    • Dizziness
    • Swollen hands and feet
    • Urine infections
    • Vaginal infections
    • Darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • Greasier, spotty skin
    • Thicker and shinier hair
    • Symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

    Week 25 – your second trimester

    Welcome to week 25! You'll need to tell your employers now, if you haven't already, so that you can get maternity pay and benefits. It's very likely that they will have guessed anyway, but let them know in writing. If your partner plans to take paternity leave, they will need to tell their employer too – did you know that female partners are also entitled to paternity leave?

    What's happening in my body?

    You could be starting to get a bit puffy and swollen in your face, hands and feet. This is probably completely harmless and caused by water retention – but do mention it to your midwife or doctor. They will want to check your blood pressure, just in case it's a sign of a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia. This tends to strike in the second half of pregnancy or after the baby is born. If you get any other signs, such as splitting headaches, vision problems, or pain just below the ribs, then call your doctor, midwife or NHS 111.

    Pardon me!

    Are you burping a lot? It's very common around now. You may also be struggling to eat your usual sized portions. After eating or drinking you could get:

    • Burning in your chest
    • Bloating
    • Nausea

    This is probably indigestion and heartburn. Your digestive problems are caused by your growing baby taking over some of the space where your stomach used to be. Your hormones and loosening muscles are also to blame. It can help to:

    • Eat small meals, so you don't feel stuffed afterwards.
    • Eat healthily and avoid rich, spicy and fatty foods.
    • Cut back on drinks with caffeine (eg tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks).
    • Sit up straight when you eat.
    • Give up alcohol and cigarettes. Ask your doctor or midwife to help you quit.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 25 weeks)

    Your energy levels could be flagging now, and you might be struggling to digest large meals, as your baby takes over your belly.

    This week, your signs of pregnancy could include:

    • Tiredness and sleeping problems
    • Stretch marks
    • Swollen and bleeding gums
    • Pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • Piles
    • Headaches
    • Backache
    • Nosebleeds
    • Indigestion and heartburn
    • Bloating and constipation
    • Leg cramps
    • Feeling hot
    • Dizziness
    • Swollen hands and feet
    • Urine infections
    • Vaginal infections
    • Darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • Greasier, spotty skin
    • Thicker and shinier hair
    • Symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

    Week 26 – your second trimester

    For a few weeks, pregnancy seemed so easy didn't it? You felt great and had loads of energy… remember? However as we approach the third trimester, you might be feeling more tired, and a bit more clumsy and uncoordinated. That's understandable. It's hard carrying around all that extra weight and also your centre of gravity will have changed with your growing bump, and that affects your sense of balance. You may need to allow yourself more time to do your usual activities, like your daily walk to the bus stop. It's important to stay active but your body's changing all the time, so cut yourself a bit more slack!

    What's happening in my body?

    There's a lot of activity going on inside your bump – kicking, punching, somersaults, hiccupping… Get to know your baby's patterns, and if you're worried that the movements have slowed down or stopped, then contact your midwife or maternity unit straight away. Tommy's the baby charity has produced a helpful leaflet on baby movements. You may be getting more leg cramps now, particularly during the night when you really want to sleep. Try doing foot and ankle exercises. Just pulling your toes upwards could help, or rubbing the muscle where it hurts.

    Do you have 'baby brain'?

    Are you getting a bit more… what's the word… forgetful? If you keep losing your keys, and then finding them in the fridge, then you could have what some people refer to as 'baby brain' or 'mumnesia'. This isn't a medical condition, or scientifically proven, it's just something that some pregnant women report. It's probably caused by tiredness and having lots of things on your mind. Make life easy for yourself – write lists, set reminders, and keep keys in the same place. Also just accept that if you're juggling loads of things at once, then occasionally you'll drop the odd ball.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 26 weeks)

    You might feel like hibernating now. We know that it's tempting to slump on the sofa with a packet of biscuits, but fight the urge – you'll feel so much better if you go for a walk and eat healthily instead.

    This week, your signs of pregnancy could include:

    • Tiredness and sleeping problems
    • Stretch marks
    • Swollen and bleeding gums
    • Pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • Piles
    • Headaches
    • Backache
    • Nosebleeds
    • Bloating and constipation
    • Indigestion and heartburn
    • Leg cramps
    • Feeling hot
    • Dizziness
    • Swollen hands and feet
    • Urine infections
    • Vaginal infections
    • Darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • Greasier, spotty skin
    • Thicker and shinier hair
    • Symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings,a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)

    Week 27 – your second trimester

    Pregnancy is divided into three chunks, called trimesters. Next week, when you enter the third trimester, you'll be into the final furlong. There are still a few more fences to jump over, but the finish line is in sight…

    What's happening in my body?

    You're probably putting on a few pounds now, and your waist is a distant memory. You could be feeling bloated and constipated, and having problems keeping down food. This is partly because your stomach is being squeezed by your growing baby, and also due to the pregnancy hormone, progesterone. It might help if you drink lots of water, choose high fibre options (such as brown bread, rather than white) and eat lots of fresh fruit and veg.

    Bit on the side: the best sleeping positions

    Should you sleep on your back or side? The American Pregnancy Association recommends sleeping on your left side, as this will "increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta". The NHS guidance is that sleeping on either side is better than sleeping on your back. That's because after week 28, research suggests that sleeping on your back can double the risk of stillbirth. It's also more likely to give you backache, constipation and piles.

    Here are some tips for a safe and sound night's sleep:

    • Support your baby bump with a pillow.
    • Keep your knees and legs bent.
    • Put another pillow between your legs.
    • If you roll onto your back, don't worry, just roll back onto your side again.

    Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 27 weeks)

    You could be feeling tired now, so nap when you can in the day. Your partner might mention that you're snoring more. Snoring is very common in pregnancy as your nasal passages are more likely to become swollen and blocked. Keep the peace and buy your partner earplugs!

    Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

    • Sleeping problems
    • Stretch marks
    • Swollen and bleeding gums
    • Pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
    • Piles
    • Headaches
    • Backache
    • Nosebleeds
    • Indigestion and heartburn
    • Bloating and constipation
    • Leg cramps
    • Feeling hot
    • Dizziness
    • Swollen hands and feet
    • Urine infections
    • Vaginal infections
    • Darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
    • Greasier, spotty skin
    • Thicker and shinier hair
    • Symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding).