The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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It happens around week 14 or so. The fatigue and morning sickness that may have marred your first trimester begin to subside. Perhaps for the first time in months, you feel healthy, sexy and energetic. Your moods start to smooth out and get even better when you feel your baby’s first fluttery kicks. You’ve left the stormy ocean behind and entered calm waters. Now, here’s everything you need to know to really sail through most women’s favorite time of pregnancy: weeks 14–28.
In the second trimester, the fluctuating hormone levels that can cause those wild first- trimester mood swings stabilize, helping you stay on a more even keel. Plus, you’re big enough to look pregnant but not so big that you’re uncomfortable. “Since you feel better, you’re able to cope with any shifting moods and take them in stride,” says Linda Jenkins, a nurse, doula and childbirth educator in the San Francisco area. And if you kept your pregnancy a secret during your first trimester, you can finally share your excitement.
“I felt like a million bucks in my second trimester because I stopped feeling sick all the time,” says New Yorker Michele Olson, 33, who had a baby boy in January 2002. “I could enjoy feeling good, enjoy eating and enjoy the fact that I was pregnant.” As the threat of miscarriage decreases and women feel their baby move (at about 18 weeks) or see him on an ultrasound, many begin to relax and truly embrace their pregnancy. “It didn’t feel real to me until I felt the baby kick,” Olson says. “That’s when the fireworks went off.”
The second trimester is also when many women start to embrace their new identity. “They reflect a lot on philosophical topics, like what kind of mother they will be and what kind of birth they want,” says Ann Dunnewold, Ph.D., a Dallas psychologist who specializes in the emotional aspects of pregnancy. Women often renew relationships with their mothers and begin to think seriously about how they want their labor and delivery to play out. During this trimester, your doctor will likely want to see you once a month; come prepared with any questions or concerns you may have.
The Planning Trimester
Make the most of your energy, mobility and good mood to prepare for giving birth and to get your home ready for your newborn. Dallas nurse-midwife Rebecca Burpo, C.N.M., suggests this timeline:
Week 14: Sign up for a prenatal-yoga class. Yoga can build strength for labor and help improve your flexibility, agility, balance and posture.
Week 16: Tell your employer you’re pregnant if you haven’t already done so. Be ready with a plan for your maternity leave as well as ideas about who will cover for you during your absence.
Week 18: Tour your hospital’s maternity ward.
Week 20: Think about whom you want present at your baby’s birth, and begin discussing it with family.
Week 22: Sign up for a childbirth-education class, as they fill up quickly. Choose a session that you can complete before your 36th or 37th week.
Week 24: Start shopping for baby furniture and nursery accessories. (Leave painting and furniture-refinishing to others; fumes can pose a hazard.)
Week 26: Begin thinking about your birth plan. Talk to other women about their labor and delivery experiences, and discuss your options with your doctor.