It’s exciting to feel your baby move—a little person is growing inside you! Every mom and baby are different, so you may feel kicking sooner or later than your friends did.
When your baby is “kicking,” it means he or she is moving around in the womb. Some women describe the kicking sensation as flutters, tumbling movements or twitches. It may be easiest to feel your baby’s movements when you are seated or lying still.
Most moms start to feel their baby’s first movements between 16 and 22 weeks. These movements are known as “quickening.” If it’s your first pregnancy, you may not feel baby until the latter end of the spectrum, which is completely normal. If you’ve been pregnant before, you may feel flutters as soon as 13 weeks.
At first, you may not feel your baby kick very often, but by the third trimester, expect plenty of activity. Studies show third-trimester babies move nearly 30 times an hour!
Talk to your OB/GYN if you have any questions about baby’s movements.
Your 20-week ultrasound occurs halfway through your pregnancy and is a wonderful time to see a glimpse of baby before he or she is born!
The mid-pregnancy ultrasound is an anatomy examination that allows your OB/GYN to see if baby is healthy or if there are any health concerns. Your doctor will look at baby’s brain, heart, spinal cord and other organs, as well as measure overall growth.
If your doctor has any concerns, he or she may recommend further testing or talk to you about treatment options. Don’t worry, though—birth defects are rare and most babies are perfectly healthy. If something isn’t right, your doctor will help you address it.
During this exam, you usually will be able to determine your baby’s sex. If your doctor suspects twins or triplets, this ultrasound can show whether you are having multiples.
Your OB/GYN also can look at your amniotic fluid, placenta and uterus to help you plan for a healthy birth.
Get excited—the mid-pregnancy ultrasound is a fun sneak preview of your little one!
Whether you’ve started your baby registry or have just gotten a rundown from friends, you have probably noticed that there are a LOT of baby items out there. What is truly essential and what can you skip to save precious time, space and money? Here are some thoughts.
- Baby acetaminophen drops (per your doctor’s orders)
- Baby bathtub
- Baby carrier
- Baby monitor
- Baby shampoo, wash and lotion
- Breast pump (check to see if your insurance covers it)
- Burp cloths
- Diapers (try to keep at least two packs on hand at all times or enough cloth diapers for two days)
- Diaper rash cream
- Digital baby thermometer
- Hooded towels and washcloths for bath time
- Infant car seat
- Infant nail grooming kit
- Knit caps to keep baby’s head warm if you live in a cold climate
- Nasal aspirator for when baby has a stuffy nose
- Night light
- Onesies that snap closed at the bottom, making for easy diaper and outfit changes
- Picture and board books
- Portable changing pad
- Stretchy sleeper outfits that cover baby’s arms and legs
- Swaddling blankets
- Warm blankets
Okay to skip
- Baby shoes—your baby can’t walk yet and will likely kick them off anyway
- Bottle sterilizer—a pot of boiling water can sterilize bottle parts
- Bottle warmer—use warm water from the faucet instead
- Diaper bag—choose any bag that holds your essentials
- Laundry detergent especially for babies—a fragrance- and dye-free version will work just fine
- Nursing cover—if you’d like to cover up, use baby’s blanket instead
- Special food processor just for baby food—your regular blender or food processor does the same job
- Nursing pillow—any pillow you like will work
- Stocking up on anything—from lotion to soaps—since what works well for your older child or friend’s baby may not work well for your new little one
Here’s what you need to do to prep for a healthy, happy second trimester:
- Check out a book or two about caring for an infant
- Consider telling your family and friends you are pregnant—many women wait until the second trimester to make their big announcement
- Continue to eat healthy and drink plenty of water
- Decide if you want to find out your baby’s sex
- Get your finances in order—consider making a will, creating a college savings account, buying disability and life insurance, and determining how a child will change your tax status
- Join a prenatal exercise class to stay fit during pregnancy
- Keep doing Kegel exercises to prevent urine leaks and hemorrhoids
- Map out your maternity leave plan at work
- Narrow down your list of names for baby
- Plan your babymoon
- Prevent stretch marks and reduce itchiness on your growing belly by applying lotion daily
- Pre-register at and tour the hospital where you’ll deliver your baby
- Read about training your pet for baby’s arrival
- Remove your rings before they become too tight
- Research childcare options
- Sign up for childbirth classes
- Start sleeping on your side
- Shop for nursery items and create your baby registry
- Talk to your older children (if you have them) about what to expect when baby arrives
Exercise has huge health benefits when you are pregnant, offering relief from some pregnancy-related discomfort and preparing your body for an easier labor. The key is modifying your workouts to fit your needs right now. Your doctor is a wonderful resource in helping you determine which exercises are right for you.
Exercising during pregnancy benefits you by …
- Boosting your circulation
- Helping prevent gestational diabetes
- Improving your mood
- Improving your sleep
- Increasing your energy
- Increasing muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, which can make labor less difficult
- Reducing constipation, bloating, backaches and swelling
Ideally, you should exercise in some way for 30 minutes most days of the week.
If you regularly lifted weights or ran long distances before becoming pregnant, you may be able to keep up those activities throughout pregnancy. If you are new to exercise, it’s important to start slowly and be mindful that not all exercises are right for moms-to-be.
Always get clearance from your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen. The following workouts are generally safe for most normal, low-risk pregnancies:
- Indoor cycling
- Low-impact aerobics
- Prenatal yoga
- Step or elliptical machine workouts
Avoid these activities:
- Contact sports or anything that increases your risk of falling
- Doing too much too soon—take it slow
- Holding your breath for a long time
- Extensive bouncing or jumping
- Inverted yoga poses
- Twisting at the waist
If you decide to reveal your baby’s sex, choosing a creative way to make the announcement can make for a memorable event. Here are a few fun ideas:
- Hand out scratch-off tickets that reveal the gender
- Order cupcakes or cake pops and have the baker use a blue or pink filling so the gender is revealed when you bite into the cake
- Fill a balloon with colored confetti, then pop it
- Share a photo with your older child or pet wearing or holding something blue or pink
- Pour pink or blue dust into your and your partner’s hands, then blow the dust away for the big reveal
- Buy a piñata with custom pink or blue confetti inside
- Stuff a box with pink or blue balloons, then open it and let the balloons float out
- Buy pink or blue silly string and cover up the label, then spray it out to make your announcement
- Customize your sonogram with a pink or blue bow or hat
No matter if or how you make the announcement, the most important part is celebrating in the way that feels right to you.
That dark line, or linea nigra, is another thing we can thank those wonderful pregnancy hormones for. The linea nigra usually appears around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. Other skin changes you may notice during pregnancy include the darkening or enlarging of existing moles and freckles.
You also may notice the skin around your nipples becoming darker. Some lucky women develop discoloration on the face as well, commonly known as pregnancy mask. In the vast majority of cases, these skin discolorations are temporary and will eventually resolve within a few months of delivery.
Last month, we talked about when you can expect to feel your baby moving. Most moms-to-be start to feel their baby move around 16 to 25 weeks, though it can take longer for people to feel baby’s kicks from the outside. Your partner, family and friends may be able to feel your little one’s movements at the 20- to 24-week mark.
If you are overweight or have an anterior (front-facing) placenta, it may take longer for others to feel the baby move.
Remember, every mom is different!
Pregnancy can be a wild ride. Here are some unusual changes you may experience:
- Your hips get wider. This occurs because the pelvic bone separates in the middle in preparation for childbirth.
- A dark line appears down your stomach. This is called linea nigra, which is caused by hormones that change the pigmentation in your skin.
- You develop the “pregnancy mask.” Known as melisma or chloasma, these dark patches on the forehead and cheeks and around the mouth are also caused by hormones. Wearing sunscreen can lessen or prevent pregnancy mask.
- Your blood volume increases. During pregnancy, your blood will nearly double in volume, which helps your baby grow.
- Your vagina changes color or shape. You may notice a blue or purple color, more discharge and/or swelling. And about 10 percent of women will experience varicose veins “down there.” Luckily, these changes usually go away after delivery.
- Your brain feels foggy. Memory impairment affects as many as 80 percent of expectant moms, according to the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.
- Bad breath may be an issue. Pregnancy can increase your likelihood of developing gingivitis, a form of gum disease that causes inflammation, bleeding and halitosis. See your dentist for twice-yearly cleanings to keep things in check.
- Your shoes no longer fit. Your feet can swell as your belly grows, meaning you may need to swap your shoes for a bigger size. A change in shoe size may or may not be permanent, but don’t sweat it—you can always buy new shoes! You also may notice the arch of your foot collapses because of hormones that loosen your ligaments and from extra pressure on your foot.
- You have more hair—everywhere. You may notice thicker hair on your head—and even some unusual body hair growth on places like your arms, face, chest or belly. Don’t worry—things should go back to normal a few months after baby arrives.
- You’re leaky. You may notice some urine leaking out when you cough, laugh or exercise. Your nipples also may have some discharge as your body prepares for baby’s arrival.
While these pregnancy side effects are generally normal, be sure to mention them to your OB/GYN so you’re on the same page about what your body is experiencing.
As you might have experienced, pregnancy hormones can cause rollercoaster emotions. This is completely normal! Your hormones are helping you grow a healthy baby, but they also can result in unexplained or unwarranted …
The best way to handle mood swings is to …
- Recognize that they are completely natural.
- Ask for help. Perhaps you partner can be more conscientious about putting away his dirty clothes or unloading the dishwasher. Or maybe you can delegate some tasks to someone else, such as housekeeping or grocery shopping.
- Be aware of any triggers that may make you irrationally angry or upset right now and avoid them.
- Enjoy me-time. Consider getting a mani-pedi or prenatal massage, or curling up with a good book and a cup of decaf tea.
If you’re feeling blue for more than two weeks or are crying often, talk to your OB/GYN.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience, but an uptick in hormones—particularly progesterone—and pressure from your growing uterus can cause some uncomfortable side effects. The following tips can help you ease bloating, gas and indigestion:
- Stay well-hydrated (aim for 8 to 10 8-ounce cups of water a day).
- Exercise and move regularly.
- Up your fiber intake to keep you regular or ask your doctor about fiber supplements and/or stool softeners.
- Pay attention to trigger foods that can increase gas, such as wheat, cruciferous veggies and potatoes.
- Take time to unwind, since stress, anxiety and eating too quickly can cause you to swallow more air, which increases bloating and gas.
Talk to your doctor ASAP if you have severe nausea or vomiting, or bloody stools.
The decision of when to stop working before delivering baby is different for every woman. Some women work right up until they go into labor, while others take a few weeks off to rest before giving birth.
The right choice for you depends on …
- If you have a high-risk or low-risk pregnancy
- The type of job you have (e.g., is it physically demanding?)
- How many vacation days you have stored up
- Your company’s maternity leave policy
- Your energy levels and symptoms
- Your own personal preference
Talk to your OB/GYN if you have any concerns about how your job affects your pregnancy.