As your morning sickness and fatigue fade, you may begin to feel more like yourself again. For this reason, the second trimester is often considered the easiest pregnancy period.

Mid-pregnancy, you’ll feel confident in planning for baby’s arrival at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). You will soon get to know your baby’s gender, if you choose, which can be revealed around week 20 through ultrasound.

Plan to register for LVHN prenatal and parenting classes, too, which will help you prepare for childbirth, breastfeeding and baby care.

Second trimester prenatal care

During your routine prenatal checkups in the second trimester, your LVHN obstetrics provider will:

  • Check your weight and blood pressure
  • Estimate your baby’s growth: By measuring the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus (fundal height), your provider can estimate your baby’s growth.
  • Listen to your baby’s heartbeat
  • Discuss the importance of good nutrition in pregnancy

Order additional testing or perform ultrasounds if indicated

Your LVHN provider may also use a urine test to detect a protein that could indicate preeclampsia or sugar that could point to hyperglycemia. Other tests during the second trimester may include:

  • Blood tests that check for gestational diabetes or identify your baby’s risk for Down syndrome
  • Amniocentesis, which is a test to diagnose chromosomal, genetic or physical abnormalities and is performed by maternal fetal medicine specialists

What to expect in the second trimester

You may experience:

  • Backache: Extra weight gain may cause back pain or soreness.
  • Bleeding gums: Hormone changes cause more blood to flow to the gums, which may make them more sensitive and cause bleeding.
  • Hemorrhoids: Swollen veins form around the anus as a result of extra blood being produced in the body and more pressure from a growing fetus.
  • Baby movement: Known as quickening, you will feel the first movements of your growing baby.
  • Congestion: Your nose may be congested, which might cause nosebleeds. Hormone changes can cause a swelling of mucous membranes.

The umbilical cord continues to thicken in the second trimester, carrying nourishment to the fetus. Even though your baby is mostly formed, harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco will continue to pass through the umbilical cord to the fetus. It is just as important during this period to follow healthy habits that will keep you and your growing baby safe.

Second trimester growth and development

Like children, every fetus grows at a different rate. These are general milestones for mid-pregnancy:

By the end of week 16

  • The lower limbs are developed.
  • Your baby begins to make urine.
  • Your baby’s eyes move.
  • Ears are close to their final position.

By the end of week 20

  • You have reached the halfway point of your pregnancy.
  • Your baby’s sex can be seen on ultrasound.
  • Toenails are formed.
  • Your baby’s digestive system is working.
  • Your baby has periods of sleeping and being awake.
  • Your baby can hear your voice.

By the end of week 24

  • Your baby’s sucking reflex develops. You may even see him or her sucking their thumb on ultrasound.
  • Hair is growing on their head and face.
  • Your baby may begin to hiccup.
  • Your baby kicks, moves and turns side to side.
  • Rapid brain growth is occurring.
  • Fingerprints and footprints are forming.

By the end of week 27

  • Your baby could survive outside the womb in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
  • Your baby may move in response to your voice.
  • Lungs are preparing to inflate and deflate.
  • The nervous system is maturing.

High-risk pregnancy care

LVHN offers leading-edge maternal fetal medicine services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for high-risk pregnancies.

Learn more

Choose a provider for your newborn

Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital offers specialty care for your baby starting at delivery and throughout childhood.

Find a doctor for your child