During the second trimester of pregnancy, fetal development progresses by leaps and bounds. Pregnancy symptoms for the mother also undergo some changes. Many mothers report that the second trimester is the easiest part of a pregnancy, although individual experiences can vary. The risk of miscarriage is also radically decreased, and expectant parents often start telling friends and family as they enter this stage of the pregnancy.
Covering the fourth, fifth, and six months of pregnancy, the second trimester of pregnancy usually marks the disappearance of fatigue, nausea, morning sickness, and breast tenderness. The mother will notice physical changes including darkening skin, swelling breasts, and the appearance of weak contractions, known as Braxton Hicks contractions. Some vaginal discharge is normal during this stage of pregnancy. Women may also experience pain and soreness in the hips and pelvis as the body adjusts to make room for the growing fetus.
During the second trimester, women can be more prone to urinary tract infections and bladder infections. Some women develop constipation and hemorrhoids. Some dietary adjustments can make women feel more comfortable and reduce these pregnancy symptoms. Women also usually start to show during this stage of pregnancy and they may notice signs of weight gain in areas like the thighs and upper arms.
Inside the uterus, the fetus develops a sleep-wake cycle and becomes much more active and inquisitive. Between 14 and 18 weeks, the fetus will start to move. Some landmarks in fetal development that happen during the second trimester of pregnancy include the development of reproductive organs, appearance of the swallowing reflex, hair growth, appearance of fingerprints, development of skeletal bones, and the development of hearing. In addition, the fetus is able to make facial expressions.
Towards the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, the fetus begins to reach the state of extrauterine viability. If the fetus has to be delivered in an emergency situation, intensive medical care could allow it to survive outside of its mother's body. Premature delivery carries a number of risks for the baby, of course, and will be avoided if at all possible.
During the second trimester, women should attend regular prenatal appointments to allow a doctor, midwife, or nurse to monitor the progress of the pregnancy. Prenatal testing may also be made available during this period. Women can discuss the tests available, along with their risks and benefits. Some tests are important, as they may identify issues that could be a problem during labor and delivery.