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Mothers' Physical Changes During the Second Trimester

August 11, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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During the second trimester - weeks 15 to 27 of pregnancy - your emotions may feel more stable.

You’ll also experience a range of new physical changes. 

Swelling of your feet and ankles is normal during pregnancy. Most of the swelling should be gone when you get up in the morning. If it does not decrease with rest, talk with your healthcare provider.For example, some women feel as though they have a constant cold with nasal congestion. This will go away after birth. Other women report that their nausea lessens, they have more energy and the pressure on their bladder decreases.  The chances of having a miscarriage are also very small, once you’re through your first trimester. 

Here are some other common physical changes – along with tips for keeping your discomfort to a minimum:

Red, inflamed gums 

  • This is caused by changes in your hormones and plaque build-up.
  • Floss and brush your teeth regularly.
  • See your dentist and be sure to tell her that you are pregnant.

Milk leaking from breasts

  • Wear breast pads in your bra. 

Nasal congestion and nose bleeds

  • Don't smoke and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Place warm, moist towels on your face.
  • Breathe steam from a hot shower, a pot of boiling water, or a vaporizer.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier. 
  • Massage your sinuses by rubbing on the bony ridge above and under your eyebrows, under your eyes, and down the sides of your nose.
  • Drink water.
  • Try saltwater nose drops made from 1/4 teaspoon of salt dissolved in one cup of warm water.
  • Don't use antihistamines unless recommended by your healthcare provider.

Quickening (baby’s movements)

  • Feelings of bubbling, fluttering or knocking may vary between women
  • Note the date of these feelings for your next visit with your healthcare provider

Increased sense that the pregnancy is real

  • Celebrate your pregnancy, connect with your baby, and include your partner.
  • Talk to your baby and gently massage your belly.
  • Keep a diary and pregnancy photo album.

Stretch marks

These purple, pink or red marks (striae) may appear on your abdomen, breasts, and thighs and there is very little that you can do to prevent them. Risk factors for developing stretch marks are:

  • family history of stretch marks (if your mother or sisters developed stretch marks you may follow suit), 
  • being Caucasian, 
  • gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy, and already having stretch marks on your breasts or thighs.

After birth, stretch marks will gradually change from red or purple to tan or white, and will become more difficult to see. However, some women never lose their stretch marks.

Lower back pain

  • Maintain good posture while sitting or standing.
  • Pull in stomach muscles, tighten buttocks, and tuck in your seat to flatten lower back. 
  • Sit in straight backed chairs and wear low heeled shoes. 
  • Sleep on your left side with a pillow under your upper leg for support. 
  • Avoid lifting or moving heavy items. 
  • Try heat or cold on your back or get a massage.

Pubic pain

  • Walk around objects instead of stepping over them.
  • Don't push objects with your feet. 
  • Avoid widely opening your knees.

Sore legs and varicose veins

  • Rest and sleep on either side with a pillow between your legs. Don’t lie flat on your back.
  • Walk or do other types of exercise.
  • Wear support hose if recommended.
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed.
  • When sitting, do ankle and foot exercises; avoid placing a pillow under your knees.
  • Use a footrest or another chair to lift your legs when sitting.


  • Raise your legs and feet whenever possible.
  • Lie on your left side when resting or at night to reduce pressure on major blood vessels.
  • Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes or accessories, including watches, rings and socks with elastic tops.
  • Be physically active.


  • Drink more water.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider - it could be caused by your iron supplement.
  • Eat high fibre foods.
  • Be physically active.
  • Have bowel movements when you feel the urge - don’t hold back or force. 
  • Don't use suppositories, mineral oil, laxatives, or enemas unless recommended by your healthcare provider.

Changes in pigmentation on face and stomach

  • These signs, such as a brownish tan on the face, will occur in some women and disappear after the baby is born
  • The dark line from the belly button to the pubic area may remain

If you have concerns about any of these physical changes, speak with your doctor or midwife.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Second Trimester Exams and Tests

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