Weeks 13 to 27 are a very exciting time as your bump grows noticeably and you will feel your baby’s first kicks. As your energy returns and any queasiness abates, this is a good time to focus on optimum nutrition, meditation, and mindful movement such as antenatal yoga or mindful walking.
Welcome to the second trimester of your pregnancy—a time of glowing and growing! Mindful breathing and short meditations throughout your day will help you feel calmer and more emotionally balanced as your baby’s growth accelerates.
Your bump is likely to be showing by now, your hair will probably feel thick and glossy, and it’s finally time to tell everyone good news. With the return of more energy, and hopefully the end of morning sickness, the second trimester is often referred to as the “sweet spot” of your pregnancy.
Most moms-to-be are feeling less tired now, so this is a great time to focus on regular, gentle exercise and continuing to eat healthy, nutritious foods. You may also feel sexier in this trimester—but don’t worry, you won’t hurt your baby.
Combining good food and light exercise will help you minimize pregnancy discomforts that are more common during this trimester, such as backache, constipation, heartburn, and low iron levels.
All About You
The second trimester is a good time to focus on both hypnobirthing exercises and meditation techniques. These complementary practices have a cumulative effect, so the more that you can practice them throughout your pregnancy, the more you and your baby get to enjoy the benefits of a calmer, more enjoyable pregnancy.
This trimester is also an ideal time to take a holiday as you’ll feel most comfortable traveling. The next trip you take will probably be with your baby, so enjoy some rest and relaxation with your partner, taking time to bond and connect, and making plans for your baby’s arrival.
All About Your Baby
In the second trimester, your baby’s reproductive organs are forming and you may be able to see on a scan if you’re expecting a boy or a girl. You might also be able to see your baby sucking his thumb.
Your baby’s sense of hearing is beginning to develop, and he can hear your heartbeat, which is reassuring for him before and after birth. If you sing lullabies to your baby throughout your pregnancy, he’ll recognize the tune and your voice after he’s born. Singing to your baby also releases oxytocin, which helps make you both feel good.
Although it may seem like your baby’s due date is far away, this is the perfect time to start considering birth options so don’t forget to book your antenatal class and think about hiring a doula. The test when choosing a doula is to ask yourself how you’d feel if you were stuck in a lift with this person for 24 hours. Trust your gut feeling and look for a connection with this important member of your birth team.
Your Pelvic Floor
It is very normal to worry about your pelvic floor and the sensitive perineum during labor, but there are ways to build strength and flexibility in your pelvic floor, which will support healing after birth. Your pelvic floor muscles act like a “hammock,” supporting your bladder, bowel, and uterus. Pregnancy hormones and the growing weight of your baby put a strain on your pelvic floor, and the pushing stage of labor can leave some new moms with temporary pelvic floor changes.
What you need for labor is a flexible, relaxed, supported pelvic floor and that begins with lengthening those muscles. It’s common to hear about kegels and pelvic floor “strengthening,” but if your buttock muscles (glutes) aren’t getting any exercise then that adds to pelvic floor problems. Ideally combine the pelvic floor exercise with squatting every day—the benefits will pay off long after the birth.
As you enter the second trimester, your appetite should return. Around 25 or 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fats—mindfully choose the right kind of healthy, natural fats and oils for the most benefits.
Fats and oils provide energy and also contains vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for your baby’s brain and nervous system. Foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils are good sources of unsaturated fat. Wild-caught salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, and egg yolks are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids; while soy, corn, and vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Boost your omega-3 intake by cooking with avocado oil or use it to drizzle over salads. Add a nutty flavor to a lunchtime salad or yoghurt by including walnuts. Sardines are an easy way to boost your omega-3 intake (just not more than twice a week). If you don’t like fish, then consider taking a fish oil supplement to ensure you get enough omega-3.
Crucial for the development of your baby’s cells and organs, iron is also needed by the placenta. During pregnancy your blood volume increases, so you (and your baby) need more iron to make red blood cells.
For an iron-rich start to the day, add a couple of prunes or some raisins to your breakfast cereal and enjoy with a glass of unsweetened orange juice. Red meat is a great source of iron, so ideally combine good plant and meat sources—why not have a steak with leafy greens or baby spinach? For non-meat eaters, consider adding even more plant-based iron sources to your diet, such as dried beans and peas. For an iron-boosting snack, try pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, or a few dried apricots or figs.
If you are lacking iron, combine it with vitamin C to improve absorption—have it with orange juice or include tomatoes in an iron-rich meal. Avoid caffeinated drinks at mealtimes as they inhibit iron absorption. If you decide to take an iron supplement, note it can sometimes cause digestive discomforts, with constipation being the most common side effect. If this is the case, talk to your health-care provider.
Coconut Oil for Massage
Daily massage with coconut oil will nourish the skin, may help to reduce stretch marks, and will ease any itchiness. Start this mindful practice in the second trimester and continue it throughout your pregnancy.
Massage is a calming, nurturing way to connect with your body in pregnancy and promotes the release of oxytocin, a powerful feel-good hormone that you and your baby both experience during a massage. As your bump begins to bloom, gentle abdominal massage is a simple way to bond with your baby—indeed, many moms report feeling their baby kick when they massage their bumps in the later trimesters. This is a nurturing practice you and your partner can do together. Play some music and talk to your baby during the massage—she will learn to recognize your voices.
For the massage, sit between your partner’s legs or sit upright on your bed with many pillows for support. Apply coconut oil or sweet almond oil to your hands, then using the flats of your hands, slowly move up from your pubic bone and around your bump gently massaging in circles with slow, focused breathing.
The action of your gut slows down when you are pregnant. It’s important you eat enough fibre to prevent it from slowing down too much, causing constipation, a common digestive challenge this trimester.
You can minimize the risk of becoming constipated with some simple dietary changes as well as regular exercise and adequate hydration. Start by adding bran, nuts, wholegrain breads, crackers, and low-sugar wholegrain breakfast cereals to your diet. Slowly increase the amount of fibre, though, so your body adapts gently. Fruits and berries are great options, too. Figs and pears are high in fibre and other essential nutrients and are often overlooked. Start your day with a fibre-packed breakfast of oatmeal with added pear slices and raspberries, which will also help to keep your blood sugar in check.
Feeling peckish? Try freeze-dried edamame, a small packet of unsweetened trail mix, or some guilt-free air-popped popcorn and a couple of pieces of dark chocolate. You’ll enjoy these “treats” even more if you savor each bite. It can be tempting to use a laxative if suffering from constipation, but check with your health-care provider before you do so.
Essential Oils for Insomnia
Disrupted sleep is very common during pregnancy, so work out which essential oils are best for you, and use them as part of your bedtime wind-down to ensure you have a good night’s sleep.
Finding the right essential oil is crucial as some have a stimulating effect, making it even harder to sleep. The most popular and safest oils for pregnancy that have a relaxing effect include German and Roman chamomile, lavender (but be careful if you have low blood pressure), and ylang-ylang.
Adopt a bedtime routine that helps your mind and body to settle down, such as a warm bath with a few drops of essential oil in it; and/or a gentle foot rub or back massage, perhaps from your partner, using essential oils in the massage lotion. You can also put a drop of lavender on a tissue next to your pillow to help you to sleep. Talk to a qualified aromatherapist to find the most effective and safest insomnia blend for you.