The mark of the second trimester is a huge milestone so if you made it there, go ahead and pat yourself on the back…and you glow girl! This period is such an exciting time because you’ll probably start to notice a lot of the things you’ve been waiting for during that first trimester like your appetite returning, your bump to be more prominent and more significant movement that will make your heart jump with joy! The second trimester is known for being the “fun” trimester where you feel like a goddess vested with enough energy to conquer just about anything. Although, you might find that you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum proudly calling yourself the “queen of naps”, rocking a the tired look of someone who could sleep just about anywhere some of those days.
Like your first three months, these next few will produce many more changes to your body causing a number of new symptoms to arise from the inside and more visible growth on the outside. This article is made to help offer advice on how to manage during this long stretch and to give you some insight on what to expect. It’ll include what symptoms to look out for, dietary suggestions, product recommendations, and a list of tips I received during my second trimester that helped me along the way. It’s a great resource for you or to share with family members and friends who want to better understand the ins and outs of the this stage in a pregnancy from a vegan perspective. If you or someone you know is still in their first trimester, you might want to check out “What to Expect: First Trimester of a Vegan Pregnancy” and if you’re looking for more details when things get a little further down the road, stay tuned for “What to Expect: Third Trimester of a Vegan Pregnancy“.
The Basics of the Second Trimester
The second trimester of pregnancy lasts from week 14-27. This stage is known for being the longest in length because you’ll be about 7 months pregnant by the end of it… although many women feel like the third trimester, “the final stretch” really is! You’ll hit some significant milestones over the course of these few months like busting out the maternity clothes to accomodate for the growing space in your midsection, strangers finally noticing you’re pregnant as you walk about in public and flutters turning to full blown kicks & jabs. This is also the point where you may choose to find out the gender of your baby during an anatomy scan between 19-22 weeks… yay! Your blood volume will start to increase by 50% of its normal volume to support your growing baby around week 21 and may end around week 28. This can make you a little more tired than usual, so don’t be afraid to kick your feet up and rest. If you opt in, around 27-28 weeks you’ll be screened for gestational diabetes and your provider may take another blood sample to test your iron levels to see if your blood volume expansion has been completed (and to ensure you are not suffering from anemia).
As far as symptoms, I personally experienced a lot of “growing pains” towards the middle of my second trimester caused from round ligament pain and pubic symphysis pain (pelvic pain) towards the end. This was often accompanied by headaches, back pain and shortness of breath if I found myself standing or doing chores too long. Along with my increased appetite, I found that spicy foods brought on heartburn and acid reflux which were most unwelcome during the nighttime. There were times I also felt mild Braxton Hicks contractions in my stomach and back, otherwise known as “false labor” contractions. When I was almost in my third trimester, I felt my breasts become more swollen & tender and even had the surprise of leaking small amounts of colostrum (the earliest breast milk produced) some nights. This is fairly common, but some expectant mothers do not experience this at all…and that’s perfectly okay! This is not a complete list of symptoms to look out for as some women have experienced swelling in their hands & feet, iron deficiency anemia, leg cramps and frequent insomnia as well. Much like the first trimester, you’ll start to feel the pressure on your bladder causing you to still visit the bathroom more than before you were pregnant. You may even experience constipation or frequent bowel movements depending on how large and how often you eat meals.
Fun fact: Whether you felt emotional before, this trimester is bound to have you at the mercy of your hormones. It’s perfectly normal to feel irritable when you’re hungry or find yourself crying during a heartwarming commercial. You might even feel more self-conscious than usual… Just try to remember to be patient with yourself and not to stress on it, mama!
You’ll also start to experience more significant weight gain during this trimester which accounts for a lot of the changes you’re feeling. At 14 weeks, your baby will be near the size of a large lemon. By 16 weeks, your little darling jumps to the size of an avocado and he or she may already be sucking their thumb! Then by 18 weeks, you’ll have a little yawning sweet potato in your belly measuring around 6.5 oz! Skip to 22 weeks, and your little papaya sized babe will be weighing in at nearly a full pound and doubling in weight by 26 weeks measuring closer to the size of an acorn squash. Your little one will be very active around the end of this trimester at 27 weeks and making more conscious movements with those kicks and punches. You may even be able to see movement at this point!
Products That Helped Me During
My Second Trimester
While the second trimester may be a long length of time, it doesn’t have to feel like it! This is the time to make yourself comfortable as you continue to grow your little one and are starting to really feel that extra weight set in. Here’s my personal list of things that helped me during my second trimester (and beyond!). It features everything from relief from back pain, headaches, and the maternity clothing situation.
Maternity Support Band ($18.99)
This band was a lifesaver for me when it came to back pain. The 3-piece system is designed to take the pressure off your pelvis and back simultaneously. What’s nice about it is that you can wear one or two pieces at a time if the full set doesn’t suit you. It works best if you wear a tank top underneath and avoid direct skin contact. This also trains you to squat down instead of bending forward and helps with getting you used to using a proper pregnancy posture. I use it most when I’m running errands and know I’ll be walking around a lot or doing chores around the house like dishes where I might be standing for longer periods of time.
Yoga Blocks & Yoga Ball Set ($53.99)
There are many benefits to practicing yoga during pregnancy including relaxation, exercise and even labor prep. You’ll find that using blocks will help give your growing belly more space and accommodate to your new physical limitations. It’s also helpful to get a yoga ball that can serve as a birthing ball during labor to help relieve back pain and decrease pelvic pressure. The perk about this is that you’ll have another tool to help you exercise until you get to that point and if you’re in the market for a full set, this one has served me quite well through my pregnancy.
Belly Belt Jean Extenders ($14.99)
If you’ve been struggling with the thought of having your favorite pair of jeans or shorts out of commission or having to purchase a bunch of different maternity ones, there’s no need to fret! These waistline extenders are just the thing you need to give your belly more space and a little modesty with the multi-colored, removable cloths. They work best if you wear a belly band or tank top over them to hide your zipper line. The best part is that they come in multiple sizes and styles to fit different types of pants (yes, even dress pants!) at different stages of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Journal ($14.99)
I always loved going through my baby books with my mom as a kid and was so excited to see pregnancy books were a thing! Its great if you’re into journaling and want to have something to look back on your pregnancy later on. It prompts you to list your symptoms month-by-moth and has plenty of space for ultrasound photos at different stages… and of course those cute bump photos you’ve been taking along the way! I was pleasantly surprised to find it had several checklists in the back for clothing, essentials and more. It even has a space for you to share your birth story. I picked this one because it was closest to my style and came with a nice faux leather cover. It’s also nice that it’s not gender specific, so you can buy this at any stage of your pregnancy to start documenting it.
Maternity Belly Button Rings ($8.99)
One thing I was a little nervous about during pregnancy was how long I would be able to wear my belly button rings. Around week 24, my belly started stretching to the point where I started to notice that the jewelry I was using was running out of space. I remembered seeing another women using plastic extenders for hers but wasn’t a fan of the extremely long look. Luckily, I found these ones that can be cut and re-threaded into the perfect length to suit you. I like that they come in multiple colors and since I knew I was having a girl, I had to go with the pink… I mean, just look at those little feet! They helped me feel “cute” when I was still getting used to the look of my new, pregnant body and growing belly. I also find them a lot more comfortable than my stainless steel versions offering more flexibility at night or during exercise.
Maternity Tank Tops ($36.99)
While my belly bands worked well for extending clothes during my first trimester, I found that the extra layers weren’t ideal for everyday wear during the summer in my second trimester. These tanks were the perfect solution with just the right fit for me and stretch as your belly continues to grow. The rouched sides are more flattering for the bump and the fabric is light enough to still be layered with a light tank or cardigan if need be. I didn’t like how expensive maternity clothes could be, so I settled on the 3-pack for a more economical purchase. It’s best to order your pre-pregnancy size since they’ll stretch with you as things progress.
Maternity Dress ($21.99)
I spent a lot of time looking online for simple maternity dresses and specifically wanted one that showed off my bump a little without being too clingy. Most of them were really expensive or downright unflattering. I was a little nervous buying one without trying it on but I thought for the price, I could stand to have an extra dress to wear around the house if it was too tight. To my surprise, as soon as I tried this one on I wanted to buy it in every color! I love the pleated side and how it stretches to fit your growing belly. The fabric is very light, so it’s nice to layer it with something like a jean jacket when it gets a little chilly. It’s casual enough for everyday wear but also dresses up nicely for dates or other occasions.
Maternity Jeans ($28.99)
I had been gifted a pair of maternity jeans and discovered that the over-the-bellys style just wasn’t for me. I felt like the waistband was itchy and it was hard to keep the pants from falling down below the belly support line. When I started looking into below-the-bump styles, it was hard to see what would be comfortable and flattering. I already have a lot of dark wash jeans & shorts that I was hoping to extend, so I was specifically going after a light-wash that had good reviews. Much like the dress, I was hesitant to order these online but I’m glad I took the gamble because I was at the point where I didn’t feel like shopping in-person and the convenience really paid off. These sit just where you need them to with an elastic waistband that’s not going anywhere unless you want it to. I loved the color and thought the cut was just what I was looking for.
Maternity Skirt ($16.99)
Another investment I wanted to make in completing my maternity wardrobe was a cute, stretchy skirt. I used to love wearing skirts before I was pregnant but quickly grew out of them soon after finding out. I wanted to find something that could work with tucked tank tops or crop tops I already had so I could extend my wardrobe a little further. There were a lot of basic black pencil skirts online that seemed like they could be it, but when the reviews revealed that they were cheaply made. I found this one with better reviews and seemed like it could be a good fit. When I tried it on, I couldn’t be happier. It’s everything I was looking for: versatile, stretchy and something I could see myself wearing even postpartum.
Vegan Second Trimester Nutrition
During your first trimester, the goal was to find nutritious meals you can stomach. Your baby grows from the size of a large lemon to a rutabaga during the second trimester, calling for more fuel to sustain the two of you. For starters, you’ll be assumed to gain anywhere from 12-14 lbs during these few months. Keep in mind, this is a general recommendation and some women gain more or less depending on their body’s needs. It’s not difficult for vegan women who are pregnant to maintain a healthy diet. You simply need to place your focus on what nutrients your body needs most during this time.
Essential Nutrients During the
You can find a more detailed list of nutrients & supplements that are recommended during pregnancy in “What to Expect: First Trimester of a Vegan Pregnancy“. Here are some things you’ll need to focus more on during your second trimester.
- Iron– Spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and chia seeds are rich in this nutrient which you’ll need more of during this trimester due to your blood volume expansion. It also helps circulate oxygen from mom to baby.
- Protein– Seitan, tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, hempseeds & green peas are high sources that will assist in baby’s tissue & organ growth. It also helps breast and uterine tissue growth prepping you for a healthy labor.
- Folate-Broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, kidney beans & fortified cereals can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and assist in forming the neural tube.
- Choline– Shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower, almonds and red potatoes can help support baby’s spinal cord & brain development.
- Monounsaturated fat– Avocados, nuts and peanut butter as well as olive & sesame oils are all healthy sources of fats to support baby’s brain & eye development. You can also use a saturated fat like coconut oil to cook with.
It’s great start your day with a complex carbohydrate like oatmeal mixed with protein packed peanut butter and fresh fruit on the side. You can also pack in more nutrients and even probiotics by eating plant based yogurt with mixed nuts & dried cranberries as a snack later in the day. As your appetite increases and digestion slows down, you’ll feel better with 5-6 small meals per day versus 3 large meals. Not eating frequently enough can lead to overeating during meals and constipation later on. You might also want to pay close attention to what foods you’re starting to crave as the weeks go on as it could possibly hint towards a deficiency (i.e. bananas = potassium, fruit/sweets = vitamin C).
Mental Health During Pregnancy
The surge of hormones during these few months may lead to you feeling more on edge and vulnerable than usual. You might be more easily triggered by things that wouldn’t have bothered you before. Even the smallest obstacles or stressors could send you bursting into tears because of the frustration you might be feeling. I personally felt more self conscious than ever during this time about my physical appearance, how I was acting & my productivity level. I’ve outlined a few things to help you relieve stress in the article linked above and you can find some more helpful tips on how to manage your mental health during the second trimester below.
- Talk to your partner– No matter how “crazy” or alone you might be feeling, they just want to understand so they know how to help. It’s okay if you just need a shoulder to cry on or some validation that everything is going to be alright sometimes.
- Avoid unnecessary stress– Try your best not to make elaborate plans, solve the world’s problems or set unrealistic goals for yourself. This is your time to relax, so focus on things that help you do that instead of what takes you away from those opportunities.
- Don’t overwork yourself– While it may seem like a good idea to clean the entire house in a single day and fit in your daily workout, it’s best to spread things like that out over the course of the week. You don’t want to run into a situation where you’re feeling faint, dehydrated or dealing with a headache from overdoing it.
- Lean on your extended support system– Think about who you usually go to when you just need someone to vent to or want advice about a situation. Give them a call or invite them over for tea. It’s also great if that person is a new or well-seasoned mom who can answer any of your burning pregnancy and postpartum questions that are causing you anxiety. They’ve been through it and most likely won’t mind sharing their experience with you.
The Best Advice I Got During
I got some pretty great advice during my first trimester that I took with me into my second. However, I noticed that as I got closer, I got more relevant advice to childbirth, weight gain, and more gender specific tips to help as my pregnancy progressed. I’m most grateful for the women who shared their birth stories with me (the good & the bad) because it helped me gain a better perspective on what I might expect and more respect for what they had conquered while bringing children into this world.
- Prepare for leg cramps– Wear compression socks, get moving or elevate your legs when you feel a random leg cramp coming on. This only happened to me a few times but it certainly helped!
- Consider the fact that your birth plan may not happen– This sounds harsh but comes from a place of love and realism. You may have your picture-perfect birth plan laid out, but your baby may have other plans. For me, this meant being ready to pack a hospital bag even though I’m planning on having a home birth. At the end of the day all that matters is that you and baby are healthy, so do your best to plan for multiple scenarios.
- Don’t travel long distances pregnant– I naively thought we could do a cross-country trip for a baby shower in July when I’m due at the end of August… I thought I could take on anything and while everything could have been fine, I had not considered how it could send me into early labor (that actually happened to my mom who arrived a couple of months early!). It ultimately dropped a lot of stress to cancel the trip before we got too far along and ask people to Zoom with us during our in-person baby shower here at home. Moral of the story: don’t push it and wait to plan the trip postpartum when you & baby are better suited for travel. Your loved ones will understand and be more excited to meet your little bundle of joy!
- Let family & friends know when you’re ready for visits– While it may seem like having more help lined up for weeks on end would be necessary, you might feel overwhelmed and need more space to adjust to life with a newborn. Try not to overdo it with making plans and just let people know when you’re feeling up to it. Let them know what you need and be honest with how you’re feeling about having company right away. It’s also okay to let them know visits might have to be a little shorter so you & your little family can stay rested.
- Tell people your due date window instead of the actual date– We’ve all heard how stressful it can be to get the rush of calls & texts asking “are you in labor?” or “have you had the baby yet?”. The best way thing to do is to give people a window of 2-3 weeks to give a better estimate. Chances are actually pretty low that you’ll deliver on your actual due date so this will help you avoid worried friends & family from checking in every day.
- Take lots of pictures of your bump even when you don’t feel like it– This was one of the best pieces of advice that I received because the photos are something you can look back on and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. You can use them in a scrapbook or show your baby when they are older to show the progression of your pregnancy. Even if you feel bloated or don’t see the glow, chances are that you’re probably being a little harder on yourself than you should be and you’ll regret not being able to look back and remember the experience.
I hope you find this guide to be a helpful! My goal is to always be a resource speaking from experience. Have you tried any of the products recommended? Are you curious to learn more about vegan pregnancies or are you going through your second trimester right now? Leave me a note in the comments section below!
As always, thanks for your love & support.
‘Til next time!
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