A Bump in the Road - The Second Trimester

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So here I am, over the initial shock of the first three months of pregnancy and starting to settle in. My body has been changing rapidly but I’ve started to accept, even enjoy it now (Hello second helpings of dessert guilt free) and my little bump started to make an appearance making me proud and protective of my new form.

Moving into the second trimester definitely has it’s perks. I stopped looking like I could just be carrying a little extra weight and started sporting a cute baby bump; reaching for that second helping of dinner became totally acceptable (even encouraged. Thanks Hubby!) and I finally moved past that seedy, sick and tired feeling of the first trimester…. Yuck!

It wasn’t without it’s challenges though.

For me the second trimester was definitely the easiest of the three however it also sparked some major changes to my life. As my body changed (and stretched) it did take it’s toll and I soon started to realise that changes needed to be made to my lifestyle to accomodate.


THE STRUGGLES

Round Ligament Pain

It’s very common for women to experience round ligament pain during pregnancy. As the uterus grows the ligaments that connect the uterus to the groin and pubic region stretch and cause discomfort. Generally this presents as a deep, sharp, stabbing or stretching sensation that begins or worsens with movement.

I started to get mild ligament pain from around the 18 week mark however when I reached the 20 week mark it began to worsen, especially after a workout. On one occasion when I was around 20-21 weeks it was so bad that I was hospitalised for severe abdominal pain. For me, on this occasion the pain was so severe I was unable to walk or stand up straight, I was nauseous and sweating from the the pain. They gave me morphine in hospital to assist with the pain which did little to help, it was quite intense.

When I was admitted Drs tested me for infections in the bladder, bowl obstruction and also diverticulosis which all came back clear so eventually put it down to ligament pain. Baby was totally fine through all of this which was a relief but I was pretty sceptical of the diagnosis… Was this just one of those things Drs say when they don’t really know what the cause is? It seemed absurd to me that ligament pain could be that extreme but after a little bit of googling I discovered chat groups with other cases where women had experienced the same thing and had the same diagnosis.

All this unfortunately forced me to cut my regular exercise right back. I had to stop my regular F45 workouts and reduce to walking with light weights with floor work which I was really only able to do a few times a week.

This might sound like a dream to some people… a get out of jail free card on exercise but for me it was a bit of a blow. I love being active and working out makes me feel good about myself. I’m also one of those people who likes to be dripping with sweat after a workout or I just feel like it wasn’t worth it.

It was hard for me to cut back especially since I would see so many other mums on social media who seemed to be able to continue with regular exercise through their pregnancies. I know it’s dangerous to compare yourself to others, especially since social media rarely shows the “whole truth” but this really made me feel like I was lacking in some way. It was hard for me to wrap my head around placing importance on the needs of my body (and in turn my unborn child) and focus on my individual journey.

The Downstairs

Get ready for the “over share” section ladies. I’ll apologise in advance for “TMI” but in the interest of being real and covering things that no one ever told me before I got pregnant, I’m going to be brutally honest about some of the more embarrassing things I found during pregnancy.

You’ve probably already guessed that after birth your downstairs will never be the same again (especially if you’re having a vaginal birth) but I was surprised at the changes that occurred before the baby was even born.

  • Bowels

Constipation was a chronic problem for me throughout my first and second trimesters. Hormones that relax parts of your body during pregnancy effect the intestinal muscles, slowing them down and pressure from the growing uterus also contributes to slow bowel movements. It’s very common for women to get constipated during pregnancy and it can be quite uncomfortable and painful due to cramps and splitting of the anus due to hard stools (Told you I was gonna over share lol).

This was a constant struggle for me and even though I drank a lot of water and had a fairly healthy diet full of fibre nothing seemed to help. I also found that my so called “ligament pains” seemed to be worse when I was badly constipated, if or how the two are related I have no idea (they may not be) but it was something I noticed.

The worse part of course is you can’t take laxatives during pregnancy and taking iron supplements can make the condition worse (also common for women during pregnancy). Eventually my Dr was able to recommend Senna tablets and once I was able to take those the condition became manageable. I also found that drinking a glass of prune juice every day helped.

  • Bladder

Liners became my new best friend in the second trimester because pretty much every time I sneezed, laughed or strained to sit up… a little bit of pee would come out (insert hand slapping forehead emoji here). Even just getting up out of bed in the morning (after lying all night) some would escape… but there’s no escaping the leakage I’m afraid. I’m sorry to say this only got worse as the pregnancy progressed so if you’re in the early stages of pregnancy and reading this I’d recommend adding liners to your regular shopping list and buy yourself some cheap maternity underwear (You’ll likely be ditching them post pregnancy).

You can try Kegel Exercises to tighten the area but honestly, unless I’ve been doing them wrong, it didn't seem to help me much.

  • Vagina

I thought my poor vagina would have a bit of time to relax before she had to endure any aches and pains from pregnancy and birth but turns out she was pretty much screwed from the beginning.

My little man found a spot head down in my pelvis (in the birthing position) from around 20 weeks and there he stayed. Looking back now I’m sure this is what contributed to the pelvic pain and pressure I experienced quite early on in my pregnancy. My vagina felt permanently bruised, like someone had kicked my in the crotch and unfortunately it only got more intense as the baby grew and I was carrying more weight. I suddenly understood why pregnant women waddle…. it’s not from the belly getting in the way, it’s from their poor aching vaginas. Ouch!

Towards the end of my second trimester this also meant that walking long distances, taking the stairs or constantly getting up and down came with painful consequences. No avoiding this one either I’m afraid, I just had to try and take it easy where I could.

Sitting & Standing

I’m not sure why I was so worried about not getting enough exercise during my second trimester because the constant battle with sitting vs standing was enough to get me moving regularly.

You’d think that being in a nice relaxed sitting position would be great for a pregnant woman but for me it started to get uncomfortable after a few hours. Carrying extra weight and a growing bump meant that I had pressure on my butt when sitting, this is turn would cause pins and needles in my legs and muscle pain in my buttocks and hamstrings.

On the flip side of this standing for too long would cause sore feet and swelling so the only solution was to make sure I was regularly getting up and moving around. Adding cushions to my chair and elevating my feet under my desk also helped but I’d still find I was sore at the end of the day.

Sleeping

Get ready for another way your body starts to prepare you for sleepless nights with a newborn. Sleeping started to become difficult for me around this time and for a couple of reasons.

Firstly the comfort factor. They say you should start sleeping on your side, preferably the left during the second trimester to ensure sufficient blood flow to your organs and baby. That’s all very well and good but let’s be honest… totally impractical. I don’t know many people who sleep in one position for the entire night and I certainly don't. I’m a tosser and turner and frankly when my belly started to pop I was actually most comfortable on my back (apparently a big no, no). It took a little while to get the right mix but eventually I found the right combination of pillows to support my belly and my back that was comfortable. The only problem was I had to re-arrange these every time I rolled over.

I did discuss back sleeping with my midwife who said it was ok provided I slightly propped myself up on one side. That took some of the pressure off feeling like I could only sleep one way without potentially harming my baby. Obviously everyone is different so best to discuss anything like this with your Dr or midwife first, this was just my experience and I never felt out of breathe or compressed from being on my back. I was also still moving around in the night so I wasn’t in the same position the entire night.

The second sleep hurdle was the increasing need to pee! Towards the end of this trimester my night time peeing schedule was like clockwork… every two hours at 10pm, 12am, 2am and 4am. Even more annoying, I would wake up feeling like I was busting but when I sat down to relive myself I wouldn't get too much out…. “I mean, SERIOUSLY. I got up for this!”

I even started trying to go to bed at 12am so I could pee before bed and get up less in the night. Something easier said than done when you’re pregnant and start getting sleepy at 9pm lol.

Fluid Retention & Muscle Cramps

The dreaded fluid retention and calf muscle cramping hit my legs around this time and while the fluid retention wasn’t painful it did make me feel like I had tree trunks for legs! This settled down a bit after I stopped work and wasn’t confined to a desk all day but my legs have maintained a spongy feel throughout my pregnancy. I would also get regular cramping in the middle of the night which would wake me up.

Unfortunately the regular remedies such as drinking lots of water, avoiding too much salt and taking magnesium didn't seem to do much to help.

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THE PERKS & HIGHLIGHTS

I feel it’s important to note that the second trimester wasn’t all bad (Geez…. Whinge much, right!). There were also some pretty magical things that happened during this time and I really started to discover a new found respect for my body and what it’s capable of. It was also when I began to build a real connection with the little life growing inside me.

Thumps & Bumps

One of the most exciting things to happen in the second trimester was the start of those little kicks. For me it started bang on 20 weeks, the half way point. I had my 20 week scan and during the scan I could see the baby moving and for the first time felt it as well. It was a pretty magical experience and really started to make things feel “real” for me.

Before I felt them for myself people gave me lots of different explanations of how they would feel; some said butterflies or popping bubbles but for me they felt like little muscle spasms, or fluttering under the skin. These of course grew into full blown kicks and Mexican wave like displays under my skin but those first moments were very exciting and cute.

Food & Cravings

For me, I found I went through phases with food, there wasn’t one particular thing I craved throughout my entire pregnancy. In the first trimester it was all about hot chips and carbs to curb my nausea but in the second trimester this changed. Watermelon, plain toast with butter and cheese and litres of choc milk (not together obviously lol) became my staple diet for a little while. Overall though fruit was a major player in my diet during this time and generally is through the warmer months of the year so it wasn’t that different to my pre-pregnancy habits.

Coffee also made a return for me in the second trimester. I have always been a big coffee drinker but at the start of my pregnancy I couldn't even stand the smell of it (My local coffee shop thought I died! Lol). That aversion subsided around the 18-20 week mark and I was back on the go go juice.

I didn’t feel like my appetite was particularly overactive during this time, in fact I personally felt hungrier in the first trimester however I did have days where I would snack a lot. As my belly grew I also found that I was consuming smaller meals because I felt like I had little room in my stomach and would get full quickly… not a bad habit to get into and something I feel helped me maintain a healthy weight.

Bump Pride

For someone who was previously whinging about bloat and body changes making me feel fat in my first trimester I became quite proud of my bump as it grew in the second trimester. At a certain point I did settle in to most of the changes to my body and in the second trimester my weight hadn’t increased too dramatically (or maybe as dramatically as I had expected it to) so I was comfortable with my progress.

My wardrobe quickly changed to form fitting tops and skirts to show off my bump. I was previously a jeans and tee girl so I don’t think I have ever worn more skirts and dresses in my life that I did during pregnancy. I also found it slightly comical that it took me putting on 10kgs and growing a belly to make me feel comfortable in tight fitting clothes.

Wardrobe Update

It was around this point that squeezing into my regular clothes became impractical so I was “forced” to actually buy maternity clothes (Shopping! How terrible I know lol).

In this area I made a lot of initial mistakes, crazy since my whole life is about fashion but I quickly discovered maternity shopping is completely different. I started out on the cheaper end of the scale, shopping from ASOS, H&M and even just looking at stretchy dresses and tops from Cotton On and Valley girl etc. Some items were good but honestly didn't last, or didn’t fit me when I reached my third trimester. I also ended up returning most of the maternity items I bought from ASOS because the quality and styles weren’t great. Not to bag out ASOS because I normally love them but the maternity items I ordered just weren’t suitable for pregnancy and beyond.

Eventually I did find a few Maternity labels and stores I loved and while they were on the higher end of the price scale all have pieces that can be worn during breast feeding and post pregnancy. Their clothes were also a good quality and were actually flattering! I really feel that investing the extra money into pieces that I would wear again was far better than doing it cheaply and wasting money on disposable fashion. I still managed to pick up some great staple pieces though from Kmart, Target and Cotton On that I wore through my whole pregnancy (you can find links to those items below) so there was a bit of balance there.

If you have the extra cash, I thoroughly recommend checking out the following stores:

  • Legoe Heritage - One of my absolute favs! Legoe’s pieces perfectly reflect my pre-pregnancy style so it was great to find pieces that made me feel “normal”. Everything I have bought from there was really flattering and comfortable.

  • Bae The Label - I stocked up on midi skirts from Bae and can say, hand on heart…. there is a big difference between these and the cheap skirts I bought prior to finding this label. For starters they are carefully designed so that the elastic that sits over the bump isn’t too tight (something that didn't bother me in the first few months but was definitely uncomfortable after the half way point) and the material is double layered so it’s far more flattering.

  • Maive & Bo - This label is all about the dresses and I absolutely loved their wrap dresses. So comfortable, flattering and no nanna styles!


EDUCATION

As I mentioned in my First Trimester recap, I wasn’t really keen to overload myself with information and pre-natal classes. Firstly because I didn’t want to become scared or overwhelmed by information but also because I like to discover things on my own through living them. That might sound a little negligent or naive, especially when it comes to pregnancy and birth but I didn’t want to be stressed out by “Expectation” (What I should and shouldn’t be doing).

First Aid

That being said I did end up attending an Infants and Children First Aid course because I thought it would be useful. The Tiny Tots First Aid Course run by St John Ambulance covers CPR, how to manage bleeding, burns and a range of other childhood related illnesses and injuries for children and infants. It also provides a refresher course for applying this to adults in a 3.5hr session.

If I’m honest I didn't take away as much as I was hoping to but I still think it was beneficial and for $50 it was an inexpensive course. There were still one or two things I didn’t know that I took away and could save the life of my child, so to me that’s worth it.


BEST BUYS & MUST HAVES

There are a few things I bought in my second trimester which were absolute life savers and I’d say were necessities for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Pregnancy Pillow

As soon as my bump started to show I found sleeping incredibly uncomfortable. Partly because I could no longer sleep on my stomach but I was also very aware of the fact I was leaning on my baby when sleeping on my side. Adding a Pregnancy pillow and a smaller pillow between my legs at bedtime was also much better for my back and I’m sure this is why I’ve had little back issues through my pregnancy.

I chose to go with a small kidney shaped pillow rather than the big body pillow. It was far more manageable (and comfortable) in bed and took up less space so I didn't feel like I had a pillow fort between my husband and I.

Support Shorts

In the second trimester these were more about protecting myself from the dreaded thigh chaif rather than support but they were still a life saver. I started to get quite a bit of fluid build up in my legs around this time and not that I ever had much of thigh gap to begin with, but it was non existent by the time I hit 18wks.

The shorts just made wearing dresses and skirts more comfortable. I do recommend the Blanqi label (though more expensive) for support which will come in handy later on but the cheaper labels are fine to start with.

Maternity Underwear

Now is the time to start buying up comfortable maternity underwear in (dare I say it) a bigger size than your normal. Trust me once that bump starts showing and your ass gets just that little bigger it will start eating those cute little lacy numbers.

I originally started buying my normal underwear styles just in bigger sizes thinking this would be fine but they ended up being pretty uncomfortable. I also wouldn’t recommend spending too much either because (“Over Share Alert”) when you start getting discharge and peeing yourself when you laugh or sneeze…. or just move really; you’ll realise your maternity underwear will be making it to the bin once your 9 months is up. This is also why I recommend starting to wear liners around this time too.

The most comfortable undies I found were actually at Kmart (man I love that place) and they were only $10 for a three pack! Bonds also have a great range and they are often on sale.

Prune Juice

As I mentioned previously I struggled with constipation throughout most of my pregnancy but one thing that helped was drinking prune juice. I would have a small glass in the morning and another in the evening after dinner. It wasn’t a complete cure but definitely helped make things manageable. You can find it at pretty much any supermarket, I would grab it as part of my normal weekly food shop.

Over the Bump Pants

I purchased a few pairs of low slung maternity pants in my first trimester to accomodate for my growing bump however these started to become quite uncomfortable towards the end of my second trimester (and impossible in my third #spoileralert). I made the transition to over the bump jeans and leggings which were far more comfortable and avoided flashing belly skin when your shirts stop covering your entire bump… Yup, that happens.

The best pairs I bought were actually from target and only cost $12! Their over the bump leggings were so comfortable and can be folded over so you can also wear them post pregnancy.

Long Singlets

Another staple item of clothing I stocked up on were plain long singlets and tanks. These were great for everyday and later on for under clothing too.

The best ones I found were from Kmart because they’re longer than normal singlets which meant they fit over the bump perfectly and are super stretchy. They were also only $5 each and come in a range of colours so when they’re all stretched out or too big after the baby is born you don’t have to feel guilty about throwing them out.

Wearing:  Hendrix Tee  and Mosman  Harems  from  Legoe Heritage

Wearing: Hendrix Tee and Mosman Harems from Legoe Heritage


RECAP

Signs you’ve moved from the first trimester into the second:

  • You stop throwing up (Hopefully).

  • You only want 1 nap a day instead of 3.

  • When you sneeze a little bit of pee comes out.

  • Your “pregnant glow” will actually be from pregnancy hormones and not nausea.

  • You can no longer bend in the middle.

  • When you laugh a little bit of pee comes out.

  • You’ll look like you should’ve had a career in the porn industry with your new “chest assets”.

  • You get up at least 3 times a night to pee.

  • When you do get up a little bit of pee will come out.