Second Trimester Recap
Marked by week 15 to week 28 of my pregnancy.
I hope you enjoy this 2nd trimester recap! I'm sharing the big moments, symptoms, lessons-learned, how my fitness plan is evolving, what I'm eating, what I'm not eating, and a few pieces of the best + not-best advice I've received.
These past few months have been exciting, mostly because now, I’m not just ambiguously bloated – I look pregnant! My belly has definitely taken a more round shape, and I’ve really enjoyed watching it grow!
I definitely feel great –no more nausea, most of the exhaustion has gone away, and my energy levels have been totally normal. The only bummer is the back pain (see symptoms below).
These past months have FLOWN by. I think I popped at around 20 weeks; I wake up and have a noticeable belly. A lot of my non-maternity clothes stopped fitting because of my belly, so I’ve really switched over to full maternity wear.
Michael and I also completed our childbirth prep classes during this trimester—starting to feel real! I’m also starting to think about a birth plan, and working with all of our support people to help me figure out what it is I want.
The Important Dates
There are fewer important milestones in the second trimester than in the first, but the one that sticks out the most is around November 10th. I felt our baby move for the first time. It was SO exciting. Michael, Natalie (my sister) and I were sitting around in our family room after work and I felt this little flutter in my stomach. I said “I think I just felt the baby move!” and they both kind of looked at me puzzled wondering what it felt like. I said, “it feels like a little butterfly in my stomach or like I’m falling on a rollercoaster.” They both sort of remained unconvinced that that’s what it was, so I started placing my hand on my belly a lot more, especially when I was sitting quietly, to see if I could interpret these tiny, confusing bubbly movements I thought I might be feeling. I CHERISHED those few weeks of privacy when only I could feel our little baby. There was something so special about having this little secret and knowing that I was the only one the baby was communicating with.
I have an anterior placenta …SO, if you were to put your hand on my belly, the placenta is between your hand and the baby. It acts like a giant pillow that absorbs a good amount of movement. This made it difficult for Michael to feel the baby’s movements for a bit, but a few weeks later, on December 22nd, Michael felt the baby kick for the first time. The baby was moving around a LOT, so I showed him where to put his hand. The first few months were marked by doctor’s appointments that felt so few and far between, so the baby’s little kick was instant, divine reassurance. He felt a good one, and we both cried. I think that was the first time it really felt real for both of us at the same time. We’re having a baby!
How My Body is Changing
The 2nd trimester, at least for me and at least for this first pregnancy, is where I went from just knowing that I am pregnant to finally looking like I am pregnant. Though I gained (what feels like a lot of) weight in the first trimester (putting on a more water and a more fat, both important for sustaining a healthy baby), my belly felt like the last thing to grow. Then, finally, around weeks 17-20, the baby started to appear. Of course, my belly was more noticeable depending on what I ate and the time of the day. If I ate something that disagreed with my body, baby would pop out a bit more.
All other changes have been minimal! It seems that my non-belly weight gain has stalled and all new growth is now pointed directly at my lower belly. …bring on the belly-friendly stretchy pants!
This list is blessedly short and if anything, is marked by GOOD things. I've been told by a few people that the 2nd trimester is the “sweet spot” of pregnancy, usually marked by more energy and fewer painful symptoms. I'm happy to report that my own experience matches!
· Back pain. this has been the most difficult part for me over the past couple of weeks – it really flared up around week 18 and has been tough. When I’m on my feet all day cooking, or I do a 45 minute spin class, my mid-back throbs and I have to sit or lay down for a bit.
· Weight gain. I’ve gained about 15 pounds so far in this pregnancy. At first, I was worried I was gaining too much too quickly, but then people assured me in the beginning you tend to overcompensate for your bodily changes and gain a bit upfront, but it all evens out. This has seemed to be true as my weight gain has slowed down in recent weeks.
· Hip pain. as this belly grows, I’ve been starting to get a bit of hip pain at night, and I have to sleep with a pillow between my legs for support.
· Snissing. peeing after sneezing! I pee so easily now! I started doing some research about this, and while it’s very COMMON, it’s definitely not NORMAL, so I started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist. If you’ve got questions about this one, message me. I’m happy to share my experience in a more private setting J
· More Energy! Oh thank the heavens for this. I hadn't anticipated being so tired in my first trimester, which slowed my roll quite a bit. Having more energy in these middle months really helped me both catch-up and get-ahead, and get back to my regular life.
State of Emotions
· Determined – to make the most of this 2nd trimester energy high!
· Energized – by the baby's movements! The more-frequent kicks keep me focused on our family.
· In awe – every one of the little movements feels like a brand new miracle.
· More confident—The overwhelming desire to please other people that I usually have is growing smaller and smaller. It's as if I can see my time and how I spend it more clearly, and I already feel intensely protective of the messages our baby is sending me.
Baby Decisions (so far)
Goodness, this is the one area that's littered with the most opinion landmines …but here I go! I’ll share what Michael and I have decided is best for our family and this particular baby. This is in NO way a judgement on what others decided are best for theirs, nor is it meant to sway what you are doing yourself! I hope you’ll afford me the same respect.
So the first big decision we’ve encountered is where to deliver this baby. I’ve been going back and forth on this one a lot, as it’s a super personal decision, and I’m a first time mom. I asked a lot of friends, did a lot of my own research, and because we’ve moved, it’s complicated the issue. When we lived in NYC, I LOVED my OB practice, which was very woman friendly, a little on the natural side, and delivered babies at an NYU hospital that is certified “baby friendly.” (Why any hospital ISN’T certified Baby Friendly is beyond me, but that’s an issue for another day). When we moved, three different recommended the same practice, so I started going there. Michael and I visited Stamford Hospital, and had a good experience touring the labor and delivery wards, so we thought our decisions were made.
As I got further and further in to my research, and further and further in to my pregnancy, we hired a doula, who I love, and has asked me to think about things I hadn’t thought of before. (If you don’t know what a doula is, or have questions about why we hired one, let me know! Maybe this should be a separate blog post!) She started asking me questions about what I wanted our birthing room to look and feel like. I realized the thing I wanted more than anything, was to be surrounded by a community of smiling women. When I visualized our baby’s birthing day, I saw myself embraced by my husband and circled by a group of women sharing their knowledge and energy with me.
With that realization, and much deliberation, we decided that delivering the baby at a birthing center that is attached to a hospital, but run by midwives (as opposed to an OB) is more likely to give us the atmosphere we are looking for. I’ll be delivering our baby at the Vidone Birthing Center in New Haven, CT, and will be seeing Certified Nurse Midwives, instead of OBGYNs for the rest of this pregnancy.
Most of our other decisions (in this 2nd trimester) have been nursery or registry related! We are nowhere close to having all of the nursery things we need, but that doesn’t feel like a huge rush since we won’t need a lot of it right away. As soon as it all comes in, I'll publish a blog post to chat share the details.
ALSO I *do* plan to share our complete baby registry here on the blog. I feel like I'm walking away from that experience with a doctorate in baby safety. It was a LONG process and I promise to share all our little-to-big decisions! I hope you (or someone you know who's expecting) find it helpful. It’s been a difficult line to navigate between what is safe (chemically and physically) and what is practical and realistic for our everyday lives.
· FRUIT! I made the decision (backed by what makes good baby-building nutrition sense) to snack more than I did pre-pregnancy. The pregnant body is SO different and one way to support it (for me) has been somewhat regular snacking and lots of fruit. I wasn’t a huge fruit person before, but I’ve been including bananas, melons, pears and berries in to my breakfasts and lunches…
· I haven't really had many specific food cravings, but have been eating a LOT of citrus. Grapefruits, grapefruit juice, tangerines….I cannot get enough. And along the lines of that citrus craving, lots and LOTS of lemony kale. Lemony kale sauteed, lemony kale salad. The more it makes my mouth pucker, the better!
· I've also been more diligent about adding collagen peptides to my daily routine. I’ve been doing this for about 4 years, but I think I’ve been even more diligent recently. Whether it goes in my morning cup of coffee or evening cup of ginger + lemon tea, the little proteins will continue to help my growing belly accommodate baby.
· Excessive caffeine (I still have 1 cup of coffee a day)
· Potentially questionable proteins (like sushi in a landlocked city or too-pink burgers at restaurants)
· High-mercury foods (think shark, swordfish, or an excessive amount of tuna)
· Gluten-containing foods
I started to feel more energy, so I’ve been going back to some of my most favorite high-intensity workouts—with MANY modifications. I’ve been back at crossfit 1-2 times a week, and trying spinning or orangetheory once a week, paired with lots and lots of walking.
Here are some of the changes I’ve made:
· No-more sit-ups, v-ups, GHD, or kipping swings (for now). The reason is that I want to nurture a healthy, STABLE core …but not a core focused on abs. My abdominal muscles + connective tissues are stretching to make room for baby right now. To counteract that outward movement with contraction-based exercises could possibly result in strain that makes postpartum recovery more difficult. That being said, the core-based benefits from movements like squats can be GREAT for a growing-baby-filled-core. For more on this, I found Briana Battles to be a great resource!
· Focus on moving, not personal bests. This was a big mindset shift, but moving is what's best for myself and for baby right now – not worrying about personal bests. I've become one of the slowest in my gym in these last couple months and I’ve (slowly) become okay with that!
· Move weights, but not too much weight. It's so easy, especially with my 3ish years of Crossfit brain, to slip into the mindset of “sure! put another 5# plate on there! That felt too easy.” Weightlifting is still important, but making sure that I'm *planning* those weights according to what makes healthy sense vs. following what my muscles can lift is an important distinction. If I get too distracted by a workout and too caught-up in the movements, I could possibly lift more than my body needs at the time. Though my muscles are still strong, my joints and ligaments are adjusting (thanks to the hormone relaxin) and I want to make sure they're supported.
Favorite Pregnancy Thing
Babymoon for sure! We went to the Bahamas (safe from Zika). While we were planning, I told Michael I wanted to go somewhere where I could sit on the beach, maybe get a massage, and not have to talk to anyone but him for 5 days. Our long weekend in Eleuthera was JUST that, and we had such a wonderful and special time.
Favorite Part of the Trimester
It's a combination between baby kicking, having lots of great energy to exercise, clear headedness, and just living in an abundance of joy for this new phase of our lives!
Least-Favorite Part of the Trimester
Making polarizing decisions. Even though we're clear-headed about making right-for-us decisions for our family, it doesn't mean we're immune from the weight of those decisions. It's not always fun saying goodbye to old seasons of life or making not-universally-popular decisions (like not giving birth in a hospital, for one small example). I know this is the tip of the iceberg for where our lives are headed (parenting decisions sure to complicate further) and I'm thankful for the conviction to be more direct in this new phase of my life – it helps to relieve some of the sting.
Primally Pure Body Butter! I’ve been lathering this stuff on between the cold air outside and my stretching skin, and I feel heavily moisturized but not oily.
These tank tops from target. I bought three, have been living in them and am strongly considering ordering a few more.
With Love and Lettuce,