Your Body This Month
In pregnancy, feeling is believing. Although hearing baby's heartbeat or seeing fetal movement on an ultrasound monitor are milestone moments, the first time you actually sense your child inside of you — proof positive that you are indeed nurturing an actual human being — is a humbling and life-affirming experience.
Your Body Changes
If you weren't showing last month, chances are you will have a definite pregnant profile by the end of this month. Your uterus is about the size of a head of cabbage, and its top tip lies just below your bellybutton.
What You Feel Like
Your appetite may start to pick up this month, especially if you've been too sick to enjoy a good meal until now. You'll need a healthy craving or two to fuel fetal growth — about 60 percent of your total pregnancy weight (about eleven to fifteen pounds) will be gained in this trimester. (For more on weight gain in pregnancy, turn back to Chapter 7.)
The thin line of fine hair that runs from your navel down to your pubic bone — the linea alba — may turn dark in pregnancy, again thanks to hormonal changes. If you do develop this little stripe, now called a
Heartburn may start to become a persistent problem as your uterus crowds your stomach and the smooth muscles of your digestive tract remain relaxed, due to the hormone progesterone. Some tips for putting out the fire:
Avoid greasy, fatty, and spicy foods.
Stay away from alcohol and caffeinated drinks (for example, cola, tea, coffee); these can relax the valve between the stomach and the esophagus and exacerbate heartburn.
Keep a food log to determine your heartburn triggers.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large ones.
Drink plenty of water
Don't eat just before you go to bed or lie down to rest.
Rest your head on a few extra pillows in bed to assist gravity in easing heartburn while you sleep.
If heartburn symptoms won't relent, there are several over-the-counter antacids and medications available that are considered safe to use in pregnancy. Speak with your doctor to find out which one may be right for you.
Calcium — it does a baby good. Your little one needs lots of calcium to build bone and blood cells and regulate heart rhythm. Milk is an excellent source; three and one-half cups each day provide you with the recommended 1000 milligrams. If you're under age nineteen, you should have an additional 300 mg daily. Yogurt, broccoli, kale, and salmon are rich in calcium as well.
As if heartburn weren't enough to deal with, pregnancy might start to become a real pain in the rear, literally. Many women develop hemorrhoids, which are caused by increased pressure on the rectal veins. Your growing uterus places pressure on the inferior vena cava, the vein that services the lower body, while pregnancy hormones cause veins to dilate, or widen, encouraging swelling. And by straining to have a bowel movement, you may put undue stress on the rectal veins, which can become blocked, trapping blood, turning itchy, painful, and perhaps even protruding from the anus. Exercise, a high-fiber diet, and plenty of water can help to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements that may aggravate the condition. Try easing the pain with an ice pack, a soak in a warm tub, wipes with witch hazel pads, or a topical prescription cream as recommended by your doctor.
Hemorrhoids do have the potential to become more than just a minor discomfort, so be sure to speak with your provider if they do occur. Although they typically resolve after pregnancy, in some cases clotting occurs and surgery is necessary.
Other symptoms of second-trimester pregnancy you may start or continue to experience this month include:
Tender and/or swollen breasts
Excess mucus and saliva
Increase in normal vaginal discharge
Mild shortness of breath
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Gas and/or constipation
Skin and hair changes
Feeling warm or easily overheated
Think that ultrasound was exciting? Just wait until you feel your little gymnast stretch and push inside of you for the first time. If this is your second or third child, you may already recognize the familiar sensation of her little body flexing in your slightly used womb. For moms in their debut pregnancy with somewhat less stretchy accommodations, the first movements (known as quickening) may not be felt quite as early. But by week 19, most women have felt that distinctive first flutter.
So what does it feel like? It's often described in terms of butterfly wings or bubbles or, less poetically, as gas or a block of jiggling Jell-O in the abdomen. Because pregnancy can cause so many gastrointestinal symptoms, you might not even notice the gentle nudges of baby until he's been persistent with his movements for a few days.
You'll quickly discover that your baby is already establishing behavioral patterns. When you're up and about, he can be rocked to sleep by your movements. Then when you lie down and try to take a rest, he wants to get up and groove. Is your partner having trouble getting a hand on your stomach in time to feel the fetal kung fu? Have him stand by during a lying-down time and see whether he catches a kick or two.
Once baby starts moving regularly, the sensation quickly becomes second nature. On average, you should feel five or more movements each hour from your passenger. Three or fewer movements or a sudden decrease in fetal activity could be a sign of fetal distress, so if you notice either, call your provider to follow up as soon as possible.
The Shape You're In
Carrying high or low? Looking large — or barely showing? It's practically inevitable that at some point in your pregnancy someone will try to guess the gender of your child based on how your belly is filled out. Although guessing is an entertaining way to pass the time, the theory that high means a girl and low means a boy has no basis in science. How you carry is dependent on your build, posture, and pregnancy history. Women who have had a previous pregnancy tend to have more pliable abdominal muscles and therefore often carry lower. The baby's position also influences your pregnant topography, which may change from one day to the next.