A woman in her first trimester of pregnancy often hears that the second trimester is a mystical period of pure bliss. Besides lower energy levels, my first trimester luckily went pretty smoothly, but I was still anxiously awaiting this promised glory of the second trimester with much eagerness.
During my first trimester, whenever I had a little less “pep in my step” than usual, I would confidently assure my husband that he need not worry. As of the 14th week of pregnancy I would enter the second trimester, and then… I would be “cured”..
I (so very foolishly) awoke on the first day of my 14th week a little let down though. “What’s so great about this?” I thought. I didn’t really feel any different than I had the previous 13 weeks. As silly as it seems now, I was sort of expecting to feel this marked difference right away… but obviously it isn’t like that.
The first weekend after I entered my second trimester, my husband found me on the couch having a Saturday afternoon nap, something I never did pre-pregnancy. As soon as my eyes opened he said, “I thought you were supposed to have your energy back by now.” Um, yeah, me too…. thanks.
I would now describe transitioning into a new trimester more like the changing of seasons. You don’t go to bed on the last day of summer and wake up in the midst of fall. The leaves slowly change; the weather slowly becomes more crisp. Subtle shifts that are hardly even discernible, until one day you awaken to realize that summer is indeed long gone.
I actually didn’t feel much different until my 20th week. It was around then that I started to genuinely enjoying pregnancy, rather than feeling afflicted by it.
Exercising in My Second Trimester
I was able to pretty much resume the same level of fitness that I had pre-pregnancy. I was back to doing something physical about 6x’s a week: pilates, weight training, spinning, Tight Life classes. I was really enjoying my routine again and stopped having to drag myself to be active. I was actually able to start comfortably running my usual 10km’s as well. A little more slowly then I normally would, but I always finished feeling energized without needing to nap for the rest of the day. With pregnancy brought the new sensation of bladder pressure though, and I often had to take lots of bathroom breaks. The most was 6 times in 10km’s and I started wondering if I’d be in diapers before the baby was. This pressure seemed to ease near the end of my second trimester, as the baby and uterus shifted up and out.
The most important thing about exercise during pregnancy is to listen to your body and only do what you’re comfortable with. This definitely changes day-to-day and month-to-month. I was gentler with myself and always listened to my inner voice that seems to speak to you more clearly when pregnant. Any activity that you’re able to do (within your comfort zone) will greatly benefit you and your babe though! Exercise strengthens you for the physical task of labour. It also improves mood, digestion, and circulation which helps your baby to receive nutrients and oxygen more effectively.
Food Aversions & Cravings
Any food aversions I had in the first trimester slowly started to disappear. So did the desire for the denser/starchier foods that usually accompany the first trimester, and I started enjoying lighter/greener foods more.
I thought that I’d experience an appetite increase, but it stayed quite the same. I did have to be especially careful to maintain balanced blood sugar levels though which I found could become low more easily. This was done by making sure my meals were balanced and by not going hungry for too long.
I was also waiting for the infamous “pregnancy cravings” but hadn’t been experiencing any. Ok, I was really, reeeally into mandarin oranges at Christmas time, but that’s not so unusual is it? I’ll admit that this may have gone from regular enjoyment of the festive fruit into weirdo pregnancy territory when I made a curry and thought that mandarin oranges were the perfect topper for the dish. My husband wasn’t as convinced.
Nutrients I Focused On
Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of your body and to your baby. Iron becomes the key nutrient of focus in the second trimester when blood volume increases by 40-50%. I was anemic in my younger years and am familiar with the sign and symptoms associated with low iron levels. Lower energy and tingling in my hands/feet would always warn me to increase my consumption of foods high in iron.
Iron supplementation generally isn’t recommended for all pregnant women, only in certain cases on an individual basis. Some natural food sources of iron are:
- Heme/Animal Sources: clams, oysters (both very high sources, but must be thoroughly cooked), egg yolk, salmon, beef, lamb, chicken,
- Non-heme/Vegetarian Sources: lentils, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas
*Vitamin C is also very important for iron absorption.
General Health and Wellbeing
I’m 6 feet tall with a long torso. This meant that I really didn't look pregnant until the very, very end of my second trimester- and then only slightly and in certain clothing. People told me that I was fortunate not to be showing too much, but I couldn’t really agree. I definitely thought that by 6+ months I deserved a proper bump, but I just looked bloated. No one was holding doors for me, no one was giving up their seats.
I’d heard pregnancy could be an emotional rollercoaster, but my moods had actually never felt more even keeled. I can honestly say that PMS brought more emotional instability than pregnancy has.
THE BABY'S PROGRESS
I felt the baby’s first movements at 19 week, a few days after Christmas. It was the fluttery, little butterfly/goldfish type of sensations that I’d heard about. My husband was able to feel them shortly after I first did. We have decided not to get ultrasounds during this pregnancy, so we sort of missed the “holy moley there is a baby in there” reality check that most couples get at their first ultrasound around 12 weeks. Being able to feel our baby’s movement made this pregnancy much more real for us. I expected the movements to be quite sporadic, like a kick here and there, but as things progressed it was often like a full on rock tumbler of consistent churning. It’s such a wild and exhilarating sensation to experience.
We also got to hear the heartbeat at 25 weeks. A baby’s heartbeat can be detected between 10-12 weeks with a Doppler, which is a handheld ultrasound device. We waited until the heartbeat could be heard with a fetoscope, which is a form of stethoscope. It was a strong beat with a good pace, and another step in making this all feel much more real.
As excited as I am about my pregnancy progressing, I’m entering the third trimester with slight trepidation. I’ve been warned of the backaches, poor sleep and acid reflux. We’re getting pretty curious to meet this little creature that we’ve created though, so I’m ready for whatever the third trimester brings.