When you are pregnant, your body goes through many necessary changes over a nine month period so that the needs of your growing baby can be fulfilled. These changes include increased blood volume, increased respiratory rate, weight gain and hormonal changes. In response to all these physiological changes, many symptoms are experienced by pregnant women. The intensity of these symptoms can be quite varied and not all symptoms are experienced by every woman, making pregnancy a different experience for everyone. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters. This division is based on different phases of pregnancy, starting from the development of the fetus to the growth of a full-term baby. The 1st trimester is from week 1 to the end of week 12. The 2nd trimester is from week 13 to the end of week 26. The 3rd trimester is from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy. The symptoms of all three trimesters differ. While the symptoms at the start of pregnancy are well known, this article is going to discuss the symptoms associated with the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. 1 Appearance of stretch marks. In the second trimester, a baby grows more rapidly and in turn, the size of a woman's baby 'bump' will noticeably increase. To allow for this growth, the skin on your belly has to stretch. As this can often occur quickly, it can lead to tearing of the elastic fibers present in the skin, causing white streaks to appear on the skin's surface. These white streaks are known as stretch marks and unfortunately are almost impossible to avoid. However, stretch marks naturally fade after delivery. Stretch marks are more likely to develop during a first pregnancy. More symptoms on next page... 2 Changes in food preference. From the very start of pregnancy women start experiencing a change in their food preferences. This goes well in to the second trimester as well. You may develop an aversion to some foods that used to be your favorite, and a love for the foods that you never liked. These changes are associated with the hormonal changes going on in your body. Your cravings can also reflect the deficiency of certain nutrients in your body, for example, iron deficiency which can lead to anemia. 3 Increase in breast size. Your breasts begin to grow in the first trimester and continue to get larger through the second trimester, in preparation for milk production. The tenderness of the breasts decreases in the second trimester, but size keeps increasing due to the proliferation of milk-producing breast glands. 4 A dark line on the belly. A dark, pigmented line can appear in the center of the belly. It is known as linea nigra. This pigmentation occurs due to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. It extends to your pubic area. Photo by Yanalya 5 Face pigmentation. Pigmentation can also appear on the face during the second trimester due to hormonal changes taking place in the body. This pigmentation change is usually seen in the form of dark patches on different areas of the face. It is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy”. This change in pigmentation should disappear after birth. 6 Swollen feet. Swollen feet are a common symptom of the second trimester. As the baby grows, the pressure on the blood vessels increases. This pressure hinders venous return which is the movement of venous blood towards the heart. The blood accumulates in the lower limbs, leading to swollen feet. Blood and fluid levels also increase in the body during pregnancy which can cause discomfort of the legs and feet. Photo by Nensuria 7 Back & pelvic ache. As your baby grows, its weight obviously increases. The weight of the fetus is supported by your back and pelvic area and the increasing size of baby puts stress on these areas, leading to the problem of backache and pelvic pain. The ligaments which bind the bones together also become more relaxed to allow for expansion and childbirth, resulting in pain in the back and pelvic area. 8 Early satiety & GERD. A growing baby bump puts pressure on the stomach, leading to the stomach feeling full (satiety). Pregnant women may also experience gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) more frequently which is characterized by acid reflux and heartburn after having a meal. This is due to the pressure of the uterus on the stomach. 9 Loose teeth. As mentioned before, pregnancy-related hormones cause loosening of ligaments and bones. The same phenomenon affects the oral cavity, leading to loose teeth. This becomes noticeable during the second trimester. The teeth regain stability once pregnancy is over and hormones are back to their normal levels. 10 Bleeding from the gums and nose. Pregnancy increases the volume of blood and its flow in the body. Due to this increased blood flow, the blood vessels of the nose become engorged and can start to bleed from even minor trauma. Similarly, bleeding gums are commonly seen in pregnancy for the same reason. These issues also resolve after delivery. 11 Urinary tract infection (UTI) Pregnancy increases the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). The enlarged uterus puts pressure on the bladder and does not allow it to empty completely. As a result, pregnant women become more prone to infection. The symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) include increased frequency of urination, painful urination, a burning pain while urinating and a strong smelling urine. For more info on UTI symptoms click here. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your doctor to prevent any complications. 12 Baby movement. The first movement of the baby is also noticed during the second trimester. It is called “quickening”; a fluttering feeling in your belly. As pregnancy proceeds, these movements become more obvious and frequent. Note down the date of the first movement because your doctor may ask about it. 13 False labor pains. False labor pain is characterized by the tightening of uterine muscles. You may feel discomfort because of it. This false pain is intermittent, and will keep coming and going in the second trimester. The most important thing is to be able to distinguish between false pain and preterm labor. If these contractions become increasingly painful and consistent contact your doctor. For symptoms of 1st trimester or early pregnancy click here.