The Preggie Diaries: Second Trimester bliss (14-20 weeks)
After the much anticipated first trimester scan was over, things began changing. I slowly noticed that I had more energy, and I was feeling sick less often, and I also felt more emotionally stable. I was so grateful for this, as I know so many women who never ‘outgrow’ these symptoms or only feel some sort of relief well into their second trimester. I would still have my sick or tired days, but less frequently now. This is primarily because the placenta has now taken over hormone production. Yay!
But then come other symptoms
Soon after I started feeling better, I noticed that I was having serious trouble remembering certain things that happened recently. Cue the pregnancy brain, the brain of mush. I am no longer reliable, and I may be a hazard to myself and others. If I don’t write a list or add an event onto my calendar, I will forget. At one stage, I went to collect our weekly delivery of fruit, veggies and milk from my husband’s office. I remember putting the milk into the box with all the other things, and I remember walking to the car with the box. The next thing I remember is arriving home and not having milk to put in the fridge. The milk had disappeared, never to be found again. I hope some person found it and got to enjoy a whole bottle of fresh milk.
I no longer have that much nausea, but the digestive issues remain. I am constantly constipated, and rely heavily on caffeine, fruit and fiber to assist in any way possible. Since there is now less space inside my belly, my stomach has risen just below my rib cage and when I eat, I get a serious food baby, which is way higher than normal. I have begun getting full quite quickly, and suffer from that lovely bloated feeling every evening. I have found the wonders of prune juice to be quite effective. I have a glass most evenings.
I have also been having a lot more discomfort and pain, apparently called round ligament pain. Which is basically pain in the abdomen caused by a growing baby. This is made worse by any bloating, which I experience in the evenings, so trying to fall asleep has been difficult. I guess in a way, this is training for the main event, when we have a newborn on our hands.
I also have weird symptoms, things I never expected. Like a chronically stuffy nose which then causes snoring at night, sorry dear husband! I also get very dry eyes and I have noticed my vision has worsened, I am now relying more on my glasses than before.
But there are good things too, I promise. Apparently I am glowing, and my skin feels smoother and softer than usual.
Telling the world
Our family was hassling us to make a wider announcement, because they were struggling to keep the news to themselves. I was feeling too happy and excited to not keep the news to myself and a few friends any longer. It was something to celebrate!
Unfortunately, Steve and aren’t so great at admin, and it took us a while to decide how and when to do it. Steve wanted to share the news with his work before we shared it more widely. He can only do this on Tuesdays when everyone is at the office, and once he finally remembered to share the news on a particular Tuesday, we could announce it.
I wanted to upload a photo on Facebook, but I wanted to be different and not too obvious. So I took a photo of a bun in the oven. I have never been shopping for buns looking for the most photographic one. But it worked so well. It was so great being able to release the happy and exciting news. For the most part, we were showered with love, congratulations and excitement.
Meeting others who are pregnant too
It’s a special thing to be pregnant and know others that are too. You have something special in common as you prepare to be parents, and it creates a community of sorts. Having some kind of community is vital, it is a support network and creates a space where you can share knowledge and ask questions. Sometimes, talking to women who are already moms can be challenging because they may already have a set way of doing things and you may end up feeling like you’re being judged for wanting to do things differently. Not always, most of the time, other parents can give the best kind of advice. But chatting to a first time mom-to-be is great, as you both don’t really know what’s going on, you’re both in the same boat, feeling excited and scared at the same time.
When I was around 14-15 weeks, my bump changed quite a lot. Apparently babies can double their weight in that period, which is amazing! I went from looking large around the edges to someone who might be looking pregnant. My husband was away during this period, and when he came back and saw my bump, he couldn’t believe how much it had changed. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. You might look the same for ages, and then suddenly, pop, boom, wow.
It’s been so special to record my progression with photos, so that I can always look back and remember it.
Dressing the bump has been an interesting activity. Depending on what clothes I have one, I can either look like I’m just starting to show, cute early pregnant woman, or I look like I ate all the pies and cake and I’m just getting really fat! It’s an awkward stage, and I often take ages to decide what to wear. For a wedding a went to, I tried on all the possible options a few times, before deciding what made me look the least fat and the most pregnant.
Putting on those kilo’s
This is the first time I have ever needed to seriously put on weight. I was also the first time I had so many health professionals ask me my weight. It is weird. I have the body that struggles to put on weight, which is nice but not so great when you’re pregnant. A healthy weight is essential to your body and the growth and health of your baby, otherwise you put yourself at risk of having an underweight baby or going into preterm labour.
In my first trimester, I managed to put on 2.5 kgs, which is okay, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to put on enough. I changed my diet a little, snacking more and making sure to eat things with healthy fats like nuts, as well as eating more carbs as I felt my body needed it. The carbs I started eating was simply starting to eat wholegrain bread. A simple addition, but one that really helped. I have come to realise that your body finds a way to put on the weight you need, you only need to listen to what it’s trying to say to you. It’s so good to be in tune with what your body needs.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Okay so most women only start feeling these weird things around 20 weeks, many first timers don’t feel anything throughout pregnancy. But I was the special one to start feeling contractions at around the 15 week mark. They are non-labour contractions by your uterus, that can help to increase blood flow, and help the uterus prepare for the real thing.
When it first happened, I could feel that my uterus had gone rock hard, and it would remain that way for 30 seconds up to a minute. They weren’t regular, they just happened randomly, sometimes with many hours in between, starting off strong and easing off slowly. It wasn’t painful, just really weird and slightly uncomfortable. Initially I was worried, it was such a new feeling, I wasn’t sure what it was. I did some reading up, which helped eased my mind as this happens to some women. These were not classical ‘real’ contractions.
Luckily I didn’t have long to wait until my 16 week check up with my doctor, and I told her all about them. She was surprised that I would feel them this early, but not concerned. When she did an ultrasound, she showed me a contraction in my uterus, which was fascinating. She confirmed they were definitely Braxon Hicks contractions.
There are certain things that cause it, it might be different for each woman. But generally, dehydration, tiredness, certain positions and a few other things are the culprits. I have found that if I am quite busy and tired, I will feel them more often. I just need to slow down, drink some water and relax.
Anticipating the first flutterings of movement
I think this is a wonderful and exciting time for mothers. The first time you feel a tiny human moving around inside you is a magical one, and I think it makes the pregnancy seem that much more real. When you are able to confirm there is a real living baby in there, you’re not just getting fat for no reason.
It is common to feel movement anytime from 16 – 22 weeks. It’s a waiting game. There are many factors that will affect when this feeling first happens… How skinny or large you are, whether or not this is your first pregnancy or not, the position of your placenta and how busy you are. For most women, they feel it when they are relaxed and quiet because the initial movements are so subtle.
I have an anterior placenta (in the front of my uterus), so the early movement will be cushioned by my placenta, and I’ll only feel it when my baby is a little stronger and kicking more vigorously, which will probably around week 20 or even longer. I cannot wait!!
And then it happened! EEK!
I was one day away from 18 weeks, recovering from a very hot and sweaty venture outside. I had a bit of discomfort in my belly, and I had my hand over the area, which just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I soon felt 3 little nudges under my hand, one after the other, and they were so distinct, they couldn’t have been anything else other than a moving baby!
I honestly wasn’t expecting to feel anything until at least 20 weeks because of my anterior placenta, but I guess it might be high up so therefor I could possibly feel movement lower down it seems. So it came as a complete surprise, and I was so over the moon. It finally sinked in that there was a living tiny human in my belly. It was such a special moment, and I look forward to bonding with my baby this way as I feel I have’t been able to bond through the scans. AND, I can’t wait for my baby daddy to feel movement for the first time, he is also very excited for such things!
Thoughts and feelings
I’ve been realising the importance of my mental well-being more and more. If my mind feels healthy, my body feels healthy. I found the build up to 20 weeks difficult. As I was nearing 20 weeks, this wave of anxiety hit me like a strong wave. I was suddenly half way, I wasn’t ready for that milestone. These were some of the thoughts running through my mind at the time:
- I became worried about how the rest of my pregnancy was going to go, I worried I would get preclampsia and have a preterm baby. I stressed that I wasn’t doing enough to help my baby grow big and strong. And I had some anxiety of just being publicly pregnant, it felt like it wasn’t long ago that I was little and I didn’t feel like I was ready to be pregnant just yet.
- I worried about my labour. I have no idea what to expect and I don’t know how my body is going to respond to labour and whether or not I’ll be able to deliver my baby naturally or not. I think I lack confidence in my body’s ability to do this. I think after our antenatal classes, I will have more information and that will ease my mind quite a lot.
- I also worried about being a mom, and what life will be like with a newborn. I worried the decisions I was making were not the right ones for us, and I didn’t feel like I would be as good a mom as the moms I look up to. I realise that everyone is different, and you will have a baby that’s an individual and has different needs to other children and only you know what works best for your baby. Also, being a mom means being the best mom that you are able to be, and not comparing yourself to other people.
I read that it’s completely normal to have these thoughts and feelings, especially during the second trimester. It is a normal process that you go through in preparing your heart, mind and home to becoming a parent and you shouldn’t just push those thoughts away and pretend they aren’t there. You need to embrace your thoughts, and think about each thing you’re worried about, it often helps to write them down. Go through your list and think about the things you can change or affect, and the things you can’t. You have no control over whether or not you get preclampsia so there is no point in worrying about it as you’ll only make it worse. But you can make changes to your diet and activity to feel healthier and stronger. I find it most helpful to first pray, and connect with God and allow Him to take your worries away. And then to talk to someone you trust about these things, for me that’s my husband. Someone who will actually listen and not just tell you to stop worrying.
That’s it! (for now)
That was a long post! I hope you enjoyed reading it, and please ask if you have any questions for me about anything related to this post. I especially love hearing about your experiences.