Welcome to the second instalment of my first time pregnancy advice series! If you missed it, I tackled advice for the first trimester in this post, and today I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about surviving the second trimester of pregnancy.
At the time of writing this this, I’m around 31 weeks pregnant, and have had a few weeks to look back at the second trimester. Here’s my best advice.
#1. You may not be feeling great, and that’s OK.
When I was in my first trimester, I kept hearing how much things eased up in the second. Thankfully, I only had a bit of morning sickness and some fatigue, so it wasn’t terrible. But everyone kept telling me the second trimester would be much easier. Whether it be family and friends, online articles, or comments in my pregnancy tracker app, I heard the second trimester was the easiest. I would have more energy, less nausea. And unlike the third trimester, I wouldn’t yet feel huge, uncomfortable, and swollen everywhere.
But for me, the second trimester wasn’t all it was supposed to be. My nausea and fatigue still stuck around for several more weeks, and I started to get new symptoms like heartburn and mood swings. In fact, I felt down quite a bit during my second trimester, and had a hard time clawing my way out of it.
Every person and pregnancy is unique. And no matter where you are in your pregnancy, you may have unpleasant symptoms or just feel “blah”. This is your permission to feel however you need to feel. It will get better.
#2. People may start commenting on your body. Learn to let it go.
In your second trimester, you’ll probably start to show. This can be super exciting! Instead of feeling heavy and bloated with no real bump to show for it, you’ll probably start to look more pregnant.
At the same time, you may start to get comments on you body. Whether it be “you don’t even look pregnant!” to “you’re so big!”, comments can seem innocent enough, but the delivery is everything and there are times you may not feel great about peoples comments, or the fact they are commenting at all.
My advice is to try to not let these comments get to you. Most of the time, people mean well – they are either trying to offer a compliment or share in your excitement. “You don’t even look pregnant!” may sound like it’s diminishing your pregnancy or implying your baby is too small, but the person probably meant that you look good or haven’t gained much weight. And “You’re so big!” is probably someone sharing excitement that your pregnancy is progressing and your bump is getting bigger.
If someone says something mean or nasty, then by all means, stand up for yourself! You could also say something like “the baby’s growth is on track according to my doctor, so I’m happy!” to politely defuse the conversation.
But if it’s a matter of just getting sick of well-meaning people commenting on your size, you may be better to let it go. Sometimes pregnancy hormones can make us extra sensitive.
PSA: If in doubt about what to say to a pregnant woman: telling her she looks great or is glowing or is carrying beautifully are all safe bets!
#3. Don’t be afraid to keep some information to yourself.
Chances are, you’ll have an anatomical scan in your second trimester and have the opportunity to find out the sex of your baby. If you do find out, and then share this with people, you’ll probably get a lot of questions about baby names. Just because people ask, doesn’t mean you need to tell them! It can be tempting to feel like you have to share your top names, but you’re not at all obligated to. Well-meaning family and friends just want to share in your excitement.
Early on, we shared some of our favourite names with people who asked and also heard some of their favourites. But when it came time to narrowing it down to a few, we kept those to ourselves. We’ll probably wait until our daughter is born before sharing her name.
#4. Gender disappointment is a real thing: don’t feel guilty if it happens to you.
From the start of my pregnancy, I was convinced we were having a boy. All of the old wive’s tales indicated a boy, and I had this gut feeling I was carrying a boy. I felt like I was connecting with the thought of having a son, and just assumed my “mother’s intuition” was guiding me in the right direction. I would have been equally happy with a boy or girl, I had just started imagining life with a little boy.
We had our first anatomical scan and the tech couldn’t see the baby’s sex, but it was leaning more towards us having a girl. At first, to be honest, I was confused. I had been so sure it was a boy and felt a bit disconnected from the baby. Then I started feeling so guilty for having any disappointment because our baby was healthy and developing right on track. “What was wrong with me?” I asked myself. “How could I be so ungrateful?”
This is completely normal and nothing you should feel guilty about.
We can’t always help how we feel, and if you get attached to one idea, it’s natural to be confused or disconnected when things change.
We ended up going for a second anatomical scan so they could get the measurements they needed, and the tech was able to confirm we were having a girl. I can’t even describe how happy and excited I felt. The uncertainty had caused me unneeded stress and disconnection; but somehow knowing for sure she was a girl and seeing her on the ultrasound screen, I fell even more in love. It was like learning more about her created a higher connection. In that ultrasound, she gave what looked like a little wave, and all my worries and guilt slipped away.
So if you feel any confusion or disappointment about your baby’s sex, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s completely natural to have an image in your mind about the future, and be surprised if things turn out differently. But if my experience is any indication, you may be pleasantly surprised at how exciting it is to just learn more about your baby, regardless the sex.
#5. Consider signing up for prenatal classes.
As I mentioned in my post How to Involve Your Partner in Your Pregnancy, prenatal classes have been a great bonding experience for me and my husband, and a great way to learn about the birth process. It was much more fun and interactive than reading a book, and was something we could go through together.
The way our class schedule worked, the sessions straddled my second and third trimester, and the timing was wonderful. It was early enough that we were pretty sure we’d get them done before I delivered, but late enough that the information would be top of mind when creating our birth plan and gearing up for labour.
Because of that, I’d suggest signing up for classes in your second trimester so that you can get them done before you’re too far into your third trimester.
If you’re unsure about prenatal classes because of the cost, look to see if your insurance provider covers them, or if any are offered for free.
#6. Start on the nursery!
It’s easy for pregnancy to fly by and to feel like you’re running out of time!
To prevent too much stress, I’d suggest starting on your nursery in your second trimester. This is a good time because you should hopefully be feeling a bit better. And you’ve passed the first trimester where there’s greater risk of your pregnancy not remaining viable.
Depending on your plans, you may need to move furniture out, paint the room, install lighting and/or window coverings, buy and build nursery furniture, and decorate. This can all take time, especially if you’re not doing the painting or furniture building yourself and have to rely on others.
By starting early and doing a little bit at a time, you can make the process much more manageable and prevent yourself from getting too overwhelmed.
#7. Don’t suffer in silence.
Whether it be mood swings, trouble sleeping, or heartburn, there’s no need to suffer in silence.
First, my post My Top 8 Pregnancy Essentials for the Second Trimester highlights some amazing products to make the second trimester more bearable. The pregnancy pillow alone is a game changer!
Second, if you’re feeling down, moody, or apprehensive about becoming a mom, talk to someone! Whether it be your partner, a friend or family member, or a professional, the key is to communicate your feelings and have an outlet. You may also get some helpful advice and guidance on how to move forward.
And last, lean on your partner. Let them know how you’re doing and how they can help. In most cases, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help make your pregnancy more comfortable, whether that be getting you a glass of water, running out to buy you Tums (my saviour!), or just lending a listening ear.
Those are my best tips for managing the second trimester of pregnancy. Do you have any additional thoughts or advice to share? I’d love to hear them – sound off in the Comments section below!