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Prenatal care in your second trimester

What Is the Second Trimester?

Trimester means 3 months. A normal pregnancy is around 9 months, and has 3 trimesters.

Your health care provider may talk about your pregnancy in weeks, rather than months or trimesters. The second trimester is from week 14 through week 28.

Routine Prenatal Visits

In your second trimester, you will have a prenatal visit every month. The visits may be quick, but they are still important. It is okay to bring your partner or labor coach with you.

During your visits, your doctor or midwife will:

  • Weigh you
  • Measure your abdomen to see if your baby is growing as expected
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Sometimes your urine is checked for sugar or protein. If you have either, it could mean you have gestational diabetes (high blood sugar caused by pregnancy).   

At the end of each visit, your doctor or midwife will tell you what changes to expect before your next visit. Tell your doctor if you have any problems or concerns. Speak up even if you do not feel they are important or do not relate to your pregnancy.

Lab Tests

Hemoglobin testing measures the amount of red blood cells in your blood. Too few red blood cells can mean that you have anemia, which is common in pregnancy and easy to fix.

Glucose tolerance testing checks for signs of diabetes that may begin during pregnancy. In this test, your doctor will give you a sweet liquid. An hour later, your blood will be drawn to check your blood sugar levels. If your results are not normal, you will have a longer glucose tolerance test.

Other second trimester tests include an antibody screen if the mother is Rh negative.

Ultrasounds

You will likely have an ultrasound around 20 weeks into your pregnancy. An ultrasound is a simple, painless procedure. A wand that uses sound waves will be placed on your belly. The sound waves will let your doctor or midwife see the baby.

The ultrasound will help pinpoint the baby’s age, help your doctor or midwife spot problems, and show if there is more than one baby.

Genetic Testing

The quadruple-screen test is blood drawn from the mother and sent to a lab.

  • It will be done between the 15th and 22nd week of pregnancy. It is most accurate when done between the 16th and 18th weeks.
  • The results do not diagnose a problem or disease. Instead, they will help the doctor or midwife decide if more testing is needed.

Amniocentesis is a test sometimes done during pregnancy. It looks for birth defects and genetic problems in your baby.

  • This test is offered mainly to women who are 35 or older or who have a family history of genetic defects.
  • Your doctor or caregiver will insert a needle through your belly and into the amniotic sac (bag of fluid surrounding the baby). A small amount of fluid will be drawn out and sent to a lab.

Women who have health problems may be offered other tests.

Make sure to speak up and ask any questions you have. Be sure to ask about risks of the tests, and what the results could mean for you and your baby.

When to Call the Doctor or Midwife in Your Second Trimester

  • If there are any signs or symptoms that are not normal
  • Before you start taking any new medications, vitamins, or herbs
  • Any time you have bleeding
  • If you have increased vaginal discharge or a discharge with odor
  • If you have a fever, chills, or pain when passing urine
  • If you have cramping or low abdominal pain
  • If you have any questions or concerns

Review Date: 6/28/2012
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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