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What to expect in the second trimester

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Find out more about how to do pelvic floor exercises here

Real mum's tip


"When I was pregnant, I loved to run a deep warm bath. Half an hour's soak and I felt ready to face the world again."

Mums' Choice member Amanda Hardie, mum to Emilia, 5 and Scarlett, 2

Welcome to the second stage of your pregnancy. Hopefully any morning sickness has begun to ease, you're not feeling so exhausted and you've got a neat little baby bump. Some women feel great at this stage, but many don't - so don't worry if you're not yet feeling in full bloom!

Month 4, weeks 13-16: showing signs of pregnancy

People may begin to notice and congratulate you on your pregnancy as your bump becomes more visible. Now may be the time to invest in some maternity clothes to see your body through the next six months. A dark line may have also begun to appear down the centre of your stomach called the linea nigra (this will fade after you've given birth). Your nipples may also appear darker due to hormonal changes, and your boobs may feel swollen and heavy.

However, if you were suffering from extreme tiredness in your first trimester, you should find that it eases off at this stage. That's not to say you'll suddenly feel like superwoman, but you should feel less like going to bed at 6pm! You should also soon start to feel more aware of the baby inside you as, in the coming weeks, you'll start to feel its first movements. These will be very subtle to begin with - a bit like a butterfly flutter in your tummy. From weeks 18 onwards, you should start to feel slightly stronger movements.

If you're over 35, have a family history of a genetic condition, a previous pregnancy with foetal problems or an earlier blood test or ultrasound has suggested there may be a problem, your GP or midwife may recommend further tests for you and your baby. Amniocentesis may be offered from 15 weeks and involves taking a sample of amniotic fluid from your womb for analysis. To find out more about what's involved in this test, see NHS Choices.

Your baby

At about 14 weeks your baby is 13cm long and about 113g. Your baby's fingers and toes are well defined and his eyelids, eyebrows, eyelashes, nails and hair are formed. Teeth and bones become more dense at this stage, and your baby can even suck his thumb, yawn, stretch and make faces! As the sex organs continue to develop, an ultrasound may be able to reveal whether you're expecting a boy or a girl. Your baby's heartbeat may now also be audible at your next ultrasound appointment - see below.

Month 5, weeks 17-20: the pregnancy glow

As your little one continues to grow, you may begin to feel heavier and more restricted in your movements. You may also begin to sweat more. It's not all bad though - by now you may well have developed that special pregnancy glow, when your skin looks fantastic (which could be down to hormones and increased blood flow), and you have a thick mane of hair, because you lose less during pregnancy.

You need to make sure that you're getting enough calcium in your diet at this stage to help build your baby's bones and teeth. You might notice a small amount of bleeding from your gums when you brush your teeth, as pregnancy hormones can cause your gums to become slightly inflamed and prone to infection – see Top tips for a healthy pregnancy to find out how to get free dental treatment during your pregnancy and until a year after your due date. Also, very faint red or brown stretch marks may begin to appear across your abdomen, hips and breasts at this stage. Keep on moisturising though as this will help to minimise them. Also, wearing a supportive bra may help to reduce their appearance on your breasts. After you give birth, the red or brown colour in the stretch marks will fade to a more silvery shade.

As your baby's movements get more pronounced, you'll probably be able to tell when he's sleeping and when he's awake. You might actually find that your baby moves more when you're resting because your movement tends to rock him to sleep.

Exercise is also important at this stage of your pregnancy. Walking and swimming are excellent ways to stay in shape without overdoing it, and could also help when you want to tone up after giving birth. Ask your local leisure centre if they run any classes in the pool or gym for mums-to-be - as well as keeping you fit, they're the perfect excuse to socialise with other mums!

What happens at your anomaly scan?

Between 18 weeks and 20 weeks and six days, you'll be offered the chance to have a detailed ultrasound scan to check for possible physical problems in your baby. However the anomaly scan can't pick up every problem – to find out more about ultrasound scans in pregnancy.

Your baby

He's about 15-18cm long and may have the occasional hiccup. His hearing is also well established and he can hear your voice, the beating of your heart and your stomach rumblings, so this is a great time to play music to your bump!

As well as his hearing developing, your baby's lungs are also growing, preparing for breathing. Other studies show that your baby may be able to distinguish taste in month five. By adding a sweetener to amniotic fluid, scientists found that babies swallowed twice as fast. So it seems that our "sweet tooth" is determined even earlier than we thought!

Month 6, weeks 21-26: understanding your changing body

You're probably feeling really pregnant now, as your body continues to grow steadily. You'll also be much more aware of your baby moving around. You may feel twinges as your ligaments stretch in order to make it easier for your baby to pass through your pelvis when you're giving birth. This can make your back more prone to injury. Antenatal yoga is a good form of exercise for you at this stage, and can also help you with breathing techniques that may be useful later on during labour. At around this point in their pregnancy, some mums-to-be start HypnoBirthing classes, which teach self hypnosis for labour and childbirth. To find your nearest class, visit HypnoBirthing UK.

It's also a good idea to practise pelvic floor exercises now. The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the underside of your bladder and rectum, and making these muscles stronger can help to prevent stress incontinence (leaking wee as a result of sudden extra pressure, like coughing) later on. Stress incontinence is extremely common after giving birth, but doing pelvic floor exercises before and afterwards can help.

Your baby

Measuring between 28-36cm and weighing about 453g, your baby now looks like a small but perfectly-formed little person. His skin at this stage is reddish in colour and slightly wrinkled, and veins are visible.

His toe and fingerprints are also visible and his eyelids part and his eyes begin to open. Your baby may also respond to particular sounds now, and when he hiccups, you'll probably notice. With more developed facial features, he will be trying out more and more expressions, like frowning and opening and closing his mouth.

Your baby can suck his thumb, yawn and stretch

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