Second trimester - weeks 13-28
13 & 14 weeks pregnant
Nothing massively remarkable happens in week 13 but in week 14 the nausea lifts. Hurrah! It’s amazing how you can go to bed having felt wretched for days on end and then just wake up and feel absolutely fine. Without feeling peaky I barely remember that I’m pregnant and simply forge ahead with work and Isla’s normal routine.
I have been taking folic acid since before I became pregnant and the pregnancy vitamins supplied by my midwives that also include Vitamin D throughout pregnancy. However, now that I’m into my second trimester I make a conscious effort to up my calcium intake, knowing that the baby is also needing to feed off my supply, by eating Greek yoghurt in the mornings with muesli and berries and having a glass of milk before bedtime. I am also drinking more water. Although you can still safely have some coffee and tea during pregnancy I’ve also decided to cut out caffeine where possible.
15 & 16 weeks pregnant
My trousers have started to dig in and certain dresses will no longer accommodate my expanding chest! I got away with wearing an elastic band on my jeans for quite some time during my first pregnancy to hide the fact that I couldn’t do up the button. I definitely look as though I’ve eaten rather a large lunch or two. I start moisturising my tummy with Weleda’s Stretch Mark Massage Oil after I have had a shower. It’s important to make sure that you let the oil soak into your skin as much as possible before you get dressed as it can otherwise cause oil marks on your clothing. I didn’t have any stretch marks during my first pregnancy. Someone told me that a lot of it unfortunately comes down to genetics but it’s definitely worth slathering it on as it smells and feels amazing. I also find that gently rubbing the oil into my tummy means that I am making time to connect with this little thing that’s quietly growing inside me.
I now need to pee in the middle of the night. This serves as gentle reminder that being able to sleep through the night again is a long way off and that sleep is precious. Although in general I have a lot more energy than during my first trimester I still need to prioritise getting an early night when I can.
Work calms down, finally, and the imagined reality of having two children under the age of 3 starts to kick in. My thoughts are filled with double buggies (do we or don’t we), potting training Isla before the new one arrives (will she be ready), how much time am I realistically going to need to take off work (four months sufficed with Isla but think will I need longer second time around) and how on earth is childcare going to work practically and financially without making going to work completely counter productive…all things that I’m sure will work themselves out eventually. But the shift from one to two seems huge. How my parents had five I just don’t know.
17 & 18 weeks pregnant
My husband Kyle, a teacher, now has the school holidays and we head up to Scotland to visit his parents and brother whom we speak to fairly often on the phone but only manage to see once or twice a year in person, given the sheer distance between the Outer Hebrides and London. It’s a really special time for Isla to connect with her grandparents and Uncle and they are so excited for us that in under 6 months time another Mcphail will be joining the clan.
My skin has started to clear up which is promising, I definitely have much more energy and on the whole I am feeling good. I only have two pregnancy niggles to report - I have started waking up on my back, it’s not the end of the world but ideally you should sleep on your side during pregnancy and even better sleep on your left hand side. I have also started snoring which is quite a common pregnancy side effect! This happens because high levels of oestrogen and progesterone cause the blood vessels in your nose to open wider and your nasal tissues to swell. Towards the end of my first pregnancy the snoring became so bad that Kyle resorted to earplugs! I try out Weleda’s Rhinodoron Nasal Spray. It has organic aloe vera in it and seems to be helping a little.
Towards the end of my 18th week a bump suddenly becomes apparent and I feel the baby kick for the first time. I thought that I had felt a small flurry of kicks when we were flying back from Stornoway, but the following evening I feel the first proper kick. Kyle and I are just about to eat supper and I almost leap off the sofa thinking that Kyle has prodded me in the tummy before realising that the kick was from within! How exciting.
19 & 20 weeks pregnant
I have a midwife appointment at 19 weeks, which is all very routine and no concerns are expressed, my next appointment is booked for 9 weeks time. Towards the end of the week I go and visit Isla’s godmother and her 5 month old. Isla is fascinated by the baby and I very much enjoy having some cuddles. I try to find out how my friend has been getting on, knowing that new mums are often very good at hiding the things that they seem to be struggling with and focussing only on how much they love being a mum. Only after about a year of motherhood, when sleep begins to become marginally more plentiful, are you are able to look back at those early months and acknowledge how difficult they were at times, speak honestly and hopefully laugh about them too. There’s no right way to do parenting, you just have to find it out for yourselves as you go, of course listening to other people’s advice but not taking anything as gospel. I feel lucky that when this baby does come along I will at least have been through it once before and have the confidence to conquer whatever comes my way. First time around those little cries are often impossible to translate and you worry about everything.
I have been trying to eat as healthily as possible, however, on the way home, having only had pea soup for lunch, hunger strikes and I find myself demolishing a four pack of yum yums from the supermarket. Definitely not something to be repeated on a regular basis!
The following day I have my 20 week scan. Kyle has requested special leave for the final hour of the school day so that he can be there. We found out Isla’s sex in my last pregnancy at the same point and we have decided that we’d like to know with this one too. Just managing to fall pregnant with Isla so quickly (within 4 months) was surprise enough, so we wanted to know her sex so that we could choose a name in advance and really feel as though we were building a relationship with our daughter whilst she was still in my tummy. We want to do the same with this one, not only will it also mean that Isla can understand whether she’s becoming a big sister to a baby boy or girl but it also means that we can get organised in advance either retrieving all of the clothes that are currently stored in my parents attic or buying/borrowing the odd new thing for a little boy. We are the last scan of the day and our appointment is about 45/50 minutes overdue, Isla gets massively hungry and not knowing when we are going to be seen we risk dashing to the hospital cafe to buy croissant - not the most nutritional of suppers for her but it does the trick.
Finally we are seen and the sonographer checks whether we are happy to know the sex if the baby is in the right position to tell us, we say yes please and after a little inspection she tells us that we are to have another girl! I had a hunch it may have been a girl as my pregnancy so far has been very similar to my first. Kyle is over the moon, and loves the idea of being a daddy to lots of little girls. The rest of the scan goes well as the sonographer checks through all of the vital organs and at the end of the appointment we head home with photos of the baby - it’s amazing how fully formed she already looks. That evening Kyle and I share the news with family and friends and share our pregnancy news on Facebook.
21 & 22 weeks pregnant
My mum comes to stay for the week and in true mummy style she drags us off to buy paint and other DIY materials. She has come to help us make some improvements to the flat before the baby arrives. She is such a trooper and between the three of us we transform our sitting room - it looks brilliant. Inspired by her enthusiasm, Kyle takes on the task of fitting new doors for the bedrooms and whilst on a return trip to a DIY store the longed-for dream of having a new kitchen becomes a possibility. If we don’t do it now we never will. Even though we may not stay in London forever, we want to make this flat fit for purpose and, most importantly, feel like a family home.
The baby’s kicks are a lot more regular now. It’s a rather wonderful feeling and most detectable at night-time when I’m not distracted by doing other things. Kyle enjoys talking to my bump and we encourage Isla put her hands on my tummy, give the baby kisses and play music to her and see if she responds. It’s hilarious as Isla thinks that she also has a baby and at random moments in the day rubs her tummy, looks at me and says “Mummy ow, baby kicks”. We have also decided on a name. We are going to try if we can to keep it a secret from family/friends, if Isla doesn’t let it out of the bag!
At the end of the week have a mother worrying about me as we went on a weekend away and her son has developed chickenpox. Fortunately I had chickenpox as a child so both myself and the baby should be absolutely fine. I check with my aunt who is a GP, and she reassures me/and the concerned mother not to worry.
23 & 24 weeks pregnant
I read a while ago that it’s quite common for an expectant mother’s hair to become darker in pregnancy but I’m convinced that mine has become a lighter shade of brown. Perhaps what I’ve noticed is simply that my hair has now started to become thicker and more lustrous. My skin still has a little way to go, I’m still using the trusty Weleda Aknedoron Cleansing Lotion but I think that the “glow” may hopefully set in before too long. My breasts seem to have grown again and I head to the shops to get a couple of new bras.
I have also noticed that my appetite has started to increase. I haven’t really had any pregnancy cravings, although have become partial to the occasional croissant. I need to try and eat healthily rather than resort to snacking. I am thrilled that runny egg yolks have now been declared as safe to eat, provided they are lion marked eggs, as a poached egg on toast with avocado feels like the most incredible treat at the moment.
We spend a few days with my aunt and uncle in Sheffield and they have a cat, which I am allergic to. Weirdly my usual hayfever hasn’t been an issue in either my last or current pregnancy but I can definitely feel the effects of the cat causing me to have a very itchy nose and I use the Rhinodoron Nasal Spray again to take the edge off it.
25 & 26 weeks pregnant
My skin has definitely improved and I am no longer getting any nasty spots, thank goodness. I have however recently noticed a couple of other changes to my skin. Firstly I have noticed that I have a small dark patch on my neck, the pigmentation is caused by the production of extra melanocyte-stimulating hormone and should disappear after pregnancy. And secondly, I have noticed that I have developed a few small and thin spidery looking veins on my cheeks, they are incredibly faint and I hope that these are not a permanent fixture. I’m still slapping on the moisturiser/oil and as of yet there are no stretch marks to be seen so fingers crossed. I haven’t yet got a linea nigra, a dark vertical line that appeared on my bump from very early on with Isla, but I expect it won’t be long until one appears.
We have made a decision, provided that I continue to be considered low risk, to have a homebirth if possible. My labour with Isla was fairly straightforward. After doing the first stretch of labour at home I spent the most powerful section of contractions at the birthing centre, with a little gas and air, before a relatively short period of time actually pushing her out on the main hospital maternity ward. The change of location was due to there being meconium (the baby’s first poo - the dark brownish green one) present when my waters broke which could have been a potential risk to the baby had she ingested it. Having a mother who has successfully laboured five children naturally, I wasn’t scared of labour and very much allowed my body to just get on with what it needed to do, allowing cow like moans to erupt during my contractions and using some of the breathing techniques and gentle movements that I had learnt in pregnancy yoga classes to help me to relax and conserve energy. With my first pregnancy I didn’t consider a home birth as wanted to be in the hospital just in case. However, I feel more confident having already had one natural delivery without any complications and no tears/stitches and can only see benefits of having our baby at home. I feel that I will labour better at home being in a familiar surrounding without the worry of having to suddenly organise for myself and Kyle to leave for the hospital at the right time and pack off Isla to friends. A friend of ours happens to have a birthing pool that they are happy to lend to us and I love the idea of being able to birth in the pool. It also means that we will have one dedicated midwife present rather than different midwives with split responsibilities. Should the labour be a long one Kyle will also be able to conserve his energy by having the creature comforts of home and fingers crossed we’ll be able wake up in our own bed rather than on a shared maternity ward with up to 5 other exhausted couples (fathers sleeping upright on chairs next to the beds). Our flat is also located only 3 minutes drive from the hospital, so were anything to suddenly become complicated and require medical intervention we really are not far away at all.
27 & 28 weeks pregnant
At the start of the week I have an appointment at the obstetric anaesthetic clinic - this is because I had chronic back pain in my early twenties requiring a few minor ops. However my back pain curiously improved vastly following my pregnancy/labour with Isla. Perhaps my pregnancy helped to realign my spine. I haven’t, bar the odd day, had any real problems with it. The anaesthetist is happy with my veins and the spaces in my lumbar spine were I to want/need an epidural, however I tell her that I’m in fact planning on a homebirth and an epidural would only be possible were I to end up in labour in the hospital’s main delivery suite.
Now that I’m nearing the end of my second trimester I have started to feel a lot more pregnant and lot less comfortable than I did at the start of the trimester. I’m much more aware that I am carrying a baby on my front now when I walk around, the sheer weight of my bump feeling like hard work after a while. I have started having Braxton hicks too. These are a tightening of the uterine muscles for one to two minutes, which cause my tummy to suddenly become hard and bunched up in appearance. Not all expectant mothers feel these contractions that are thought to aid the body in its preparation for birth. I had them when I was pregnant with Isla and in one respect it’s a comforting/familiar sensation although when they happen frequently it’s rather exhausting.
I’m more aware of my back and neck muscles having to work harder to accommodate the extra weight on my chest and tummy. I have recently switched to wearing a nursing bra and am greatly looking forward to receiving a Weleda pregnancy massage in 3 weeks time! Getting to sleep is harder as it’s not so easy to get into a comfortable position, despite placing a pillow between my knees and allowing it to support my tummy. Twice this week I have also been woken up very early in the morning by my left calf muscle which has cramped up and I have needed to suddenly wake Kyle and get him to flex my foot for me and help see it off. Leg cramps are really common in the second and third trimester.
Work is about to get incredibly busy for me and we spend a long weekend with my parents before leaving Isla with them for a few days and returning to London with a car full of newborn baby clothes, the first stage car seat, breast pump and steriliser from my parents’ attic and attempt to find storage space for them in Isla’s room until I have time to sort through everything properly. Not long to go now!Read about my third trimester »