Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Hooray! You’ve transitioned into the second trimester of pregnancy. So, now what? To help you understand what this new stage might bring, we’ve put together articles, videos and community forums to help you tackle your second trimester and beyond.
ByThe Bump Editors|Updated November 10, 2023
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pregnant woman's belly
Image: Evrymmnt | Getty Images

Key Highlights for the Second Trimester

The second trimester is a period of tremendous growth—for you and baby. Your bump will pop in the coming weeks, and you’ll soon start feeling baby move. You should hopefully experience a sudden boost in energy, but you might encounter a few new pregnancy symptoms too: heartburn, leg cramps, nasal congestion and stretch marks, to name a few. Meanwhile, baby will start to look more like, well, a baby! Keep up with your prenatal appointments; there are some important tests to schedule in the second trimester, including the 20-week ultrasound.


Second Trimester Symptoms

The second trimester is sometimes referred to as the honeymoon stage of pregnancy. It’s likely that many of the worst early symptoms, like morning sickness and extreme exhaustion, have started to fade, ushering in a phase of relative normalcy. Yes, you might actually start feeling like a human again soon! Of course, this isn’t always the case; some not-so-lucky pregnant people are dogged by pervasive unpleasantness that just won’t quit. Either way, you’ll probably also notice some additional or recurring symptoms in the second trimester, including:


Acid reflux and heartburn tend to kick into high gear some time in the second trimester, when the uterus comes out of the pelvis and becomes part of the abdomen. Hormones also relax the esophageal sphincter allowing acidity to creep back up, causing that signature burn. It doesn’t feel great, but there are over-the-counter medications and home remedies that can help. In the meantime, pace your eating and avoid trigger foods (we’re looking at you, spicy sauces and citrus fruits!).

Stretch marks

Your bump is burgeoning, and your body is rapidly changing. That means your skin is also getting pulled tight. Enter: stretch marks, the scars that form when the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers rupture. While they’re normal, common and totally harmless, you might not love the way they look. Keep in mind, though, that these battle scars are a visual reminder of the amazing things you can do. That said, you can try to take some proactive measures to prevent them before they appear—keeping your skin hydrated with stretch mark creams and oils may help.

Linea nigra and other skin changes

If you suddenly see a dark line appear down the center of your bump, don’t be alarmed. This is called the linea nigra. It’s one of many physical changes you may notice in the second or third trimester. It happens when pregnancy hormones stimulate melanocytes, causing hyperpigmentation of the skin. In fact, this is not the only place you may find some darkened patches on your body. Melasma (aka the mask of pregnancy) is another common affliction in the second trimester. Rest assured, your new belly line and any other darkened spots will likely fade soon after delivery.


Baby Development in the Second Trimester

Baby develops by leaps and bounds during the second trimester. Their bones are hardening; lungs are developing and toenails, fingerprints and footprints begin forming. Limb movements become more coordinated, and soon those little flutters you’re feeling will turn into hearty kicks and impressive elbow jabs! Baby can suck their thumb (you might even get to see this on screen during the 20-week anatomy scan). Better yet, they can hear sounds around 16 weeks, so speak up—your little one loves listening to your sweet voice.

What to Avoid During the Second Trimester

The things you avoided in the first trimester are more or less the same things you’ll avoid throughout the remainder of your journey. Smoking, recreational drug use and alcoholic beverages are all off the table. Additionally, you’ll want to continue to stay away from certain foods, including raw meats and seafood, unpasteurized cheeses and juices and deli meats. Good news: You don’t have to entirely give up your beloved morning java. Caffeine is okay in moderation; try to keep your intake to less than 200 milligrams per day (approximately one 12-ounce cup of regular coffee).

Coffee helps, but hopefully you’re feeling a little more energized now that you’re in the second trimester. If so, it’s a good time to start a healthy exercise routine, but avoid contact sports, heavy lifting, activities that put you at risk for falling (i.e., downhill skiing and horseback riding) and hot yoga (it raises your body temperature). Also skip any exercises where you lie flat on your back for extended lengths of time, as this position can limit baby’s oxygen supply.

Finally, while self-care is encouraged, a dip in the hot tub is not. Soaking in hot water will raise your core body temperature, which could potentially affect baby. Better safe than sorry. Here are other things you should avoid in the second trimester.

Frequently Asked Questions

Second Trimester
Just as one question gets answered in pregnancy, another one will pop up. The learning curve is endless, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor or midwife with any and all concerns and inquiries. Here are three common questions that might be on your mind in the second trimester.

When will I feel baby move?


Eager to experience those early flutters in your belly? It’s called quickening, and if this is your first pregnancy, it might take you a little while to recognize this sweet and subtle sensation. First-time pregnant people will likely notice movement between 18 and 20 weeks. If this is a subsequent pregnancy, you might feel it even earlier. Either way, baby’s activity will get stronger as the weeks go by, and you’ll start feeling less fluttering, more kicking and jabbing.


Is sex safe during pregnancy?


Do I need any vaccines during pregnancy?

When to Reach Out to Your Doctor in the Second Trimester

While the second trimester is generally a little more comfortable, you can still expect plenty of aches, pains and pangs. Mild discomfort is normal, but acute pain is not. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider if you’re concerned about any symptoms. Moreover, be sure to seek out help if you experience intense cramping, bleeding or leakage of fluid from the vagina, as these can be signs of serious complications.

It’s important to be aware of potential red flags in pregnancy, but try not to fixate on them. Instead, focus your energy on taking care of your body and keeping up with your prenatal appointments. Your doctor or midwife will continue to screen you for potential complications, including preeclampsia, a condition that can appear in the second trimester and is marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

Second Trimester Checklist

Suddenly have more energy? Now is the time to start a healthy, moderate exercise routine if you haven’t yet

Begin sleeping on your side; it’s the safest position for baby

Invest in maternity clothes—if you don’t need them yet, you will soon

Tell your work about your pregnancy

Draft an updated will

Start researching childcare options

Create a baby registry

Interview doulas if you’re planning on hiring one

Attend all prenatal appointments, including the mid-pregnancy ultrasound at 20 weeks and the glucose challenge screening, between 24 and 26 weeks


Cleveland Clinic, Quickening in Pregnancy, April 2022

American Pregnancy Association, Lack of Energy During Pregnancy

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, Pregnancy and Heartburn

Mayo Clinic, What Causes Leg Cramps During Pregnancy, and Can They Be Prevented?, April 2023

Nationwide Children’s, Pregnancy Rhinitis: Relief for Ongoing Nasal Congestion Is Possible, April 2016

American Pregnancy Association, Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Mayo Clinic, Fetal Development: The 2nd Trimester, June 2022

Cleveland Clinic, 20-Week Ultrasound (Anatomy Scan), April 2022

Cleveland Clinic, Pregnancy: Second Trimester, November 2021

American Pregnancy Association, Linea Nigra: Pregnancy Line

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, Melasma

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Use During Pregnancy, May 2022

National Institutes of Health, Substance Use While Pregnant and Breastfeeding, April 2020

American Pregnancy Association, Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Moderate Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy, August 2010

March of Dimes, Exercise During Pregnancy, September 2020

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Exercise During Pregnancy, March 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Physical Job Demands - Reproductive Health, May 2023

American Pregnancy Association, Hot Tubs During Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic, Sex During Pregnancy: What’s OK, What’s Not, July 2022

The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Satisfaction and the Importance of Sexual Health to Quality of Life Throughout the Life Course of U.S. Adults, November 2016

March of Dimes, Sex During Pregnancy, February 2023

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women, July 2022

Cleveland Clinic, Preeclampsia, October 2021

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Can I Sleep on My Back When I’m Pregnant?, January 2021

Family Doctor (American Academy of Family Physicians), Birthing Classes, February 2021

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth, February 2019

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Prenatal Care, February 2021

Mayo Clinic, Glucose Challenge Test, September 2021


More About the Second Trimester

Our second trimester is the perfect time to start building your baby registry—which can be fun, of course, but also a bit overwhelming. Not sure where to create a registry or what to put on it? Check out our comprehensive guides.


Babies may be little, but they need a lot of gear. Check out our guides to make sure you have everything you need before baby arrives.


During your second trimester of pregnancy, you’ll want to start thinking about baby’s nursery. Click below to find inspiration, advice and roundups of all the cutest (and safest) nursery decor and furniture out there.


By your second trimester, you’re likely in the market for looser, stretchier clothing. Our maternity style guides will help transform you into the most fashionable (and comfortable!) mama on the block.


Capturing your beautiful bump is all part of the pregnancy experience. Nine months go by so quickly and you don’t want to miss the chance to record this special time before your family gains a member.


A babymoon is a perfect way to spend time with your partner before baby arrives, so we're here to help you make the most of your vacation.


Second Trimester Videos

Press play on the videos below to explore what’s known as the “honeymoon period” of pregnancy: the second trimester. Find out what to expect and how to prepare for baby’s big arrival.

Second Trimester Tools

We have a tool for nearly everything. Sorting out the cost of life with baby? Use our Baby Budgeter. From our Baby Registry, Chinese Gender Chart to our Baby Name Finder, we have it all.


Community Forums

When it comes to navigating pregnancy and parenthood, you’re not alone. Join our second trimester forums and birth month clubs to join discussions with parents-to-be like you.

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