Pregnancy Tips: Surviving the Second Trimester

The second trimester is often referred to as the “honeymoon period” of the pregnancy. I was fooled into thinking the moment I turned 12 weeks I'd wake up feeling like a new woman. For me, it was more like Week 15 or 16 and that ‘new woman’ feeling isn’t quite at the level of You-post-two week-beach-holiday. I think my expectations were a little out of whack with reality... It was more a case of realising I wasn't fighting tiredness at 8pm and that underlying feeling of nausea had disappeared. Hallelujah! 

The other wonderful aspect of the second trimester is that the big news is ‘out there’ or perhaps more widely known now. We waited until we had had our 12 week scan before telling our family which happily coincided with Christmas Day and a fun use of make-your-own Christmas crackers! Telling people is honestly so lovely so make sure you keep a note in your pregnancy journal of who you told and how they reacted. Which leads me to my first tip...

Treat yourself to a pregnancy journal
I had already done a little research in this department for friends and I ordered this one. It combines some useful week-by-week tips as well as prompts for pictures and poses questions which you might not think to reflect upon so it is good in that respect. I did, however, find I had more things I wanted to write and it wasn't the most flexible template. I started to keep notes on my phone so I could document how I was feeling each week and any significant milestones or memorable developments. Similarly, Ryan and I also started taking photographs of my growing bump so we would be able to see the transformation over time. I'd love to say we were as creative as Tom and Giovanna Fletcher but, frankly, the closest we got was standing in the same place most weeks some time after 10.30pm when we were both shattered. But I'll be grateful we have those to look back on!

Wear some (invisible) noice-cancelling headphones
Once everyone in our immediate circle knew, it suddenly felt more real. There can be a certain amount of overwhelm, fear and invasion of personal space that comes with the territory. Why is it people just love to touch your belly (which in my case was more fat than baby around Week 12 so just felt plain awkward)?! Plus, around this time, people will love to tell you how painful labour will be, not to mention sharing their own/a friend's/their cat's labour story no matter how traumatic, and warn you to get your sleep in now because that’s the last of it etc. I would recommend building a barrier to this kind of negative dialogue where possible; nod, smile along, think about what's in your Netflix to-watch list and try to forget anything that crept through the defence. If you, like me, decide to go down a hypnobirthing route, there really is no value in that kind of talk. We have enough drilled into us from TV that we need to re-programme, knowing your neighbour's 52 hour labour story really isn’t going to help.

Telling your employee
Hopefully you won't have any reason to be nervous about telling your employee your exciting news, though I found I had a lot of anticipation and adrenaline when it actually came to it. I had waited until I was nearer 16 weeks to ensure I had smoothly sailed into my second trimester and I was over the worse of the early stage symptoms. I think many women may worry that their employer might think their productivity will go down as a result of being pregnant and I was, perhaps unnecessarily, worried about that. I admit I was lucky that I wasn't terribly sick - I know that won't be the case for everyone and sometimes sharing the news earlier can be a relief so that you can get the support you need, e.g. working from home or shifting your hours if that helps work around morning sickness, or simply offloading the pressure of it being a secret. At this meeting you are not required to give any specific information regarding your maternity leave or plans, it's just so they know you are expecting and roughly when! After your 20 week scan your Midwife will be able to issue you a Mat B1 form which confirms your estimated due date (EDD) - you may need to chase her for this! You will need to scan and send this to your Employer before Week 24 so make sure that's on your to-do list. Your HR dept. or Manager should inform you of anything you need to do to ensure you are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay. There's lots more technical information about this on the gov.uk website.
Relish those extra evening hours
As a seasoned night owl, I was back to relishing my late night hours! For me, that meant I got back into watching boxsets with the husband, actually cooking our Hello Fresh meals and enjoying eating them(!) and I got back to writing (my favourite late night activity). What will you do with that extra dose of energy? 

Do all the socialising
After months of avoiding nights out which would either expose my lack of drinking or be physically impossible due to exhaustion, I so enjoyed getting back to socialising. Get those dinner dates in the diary and girly get-togethers. Visit exhibitions or book trips to the theatre (I can highly recommend Waitress for a great show!)
Get your exercise in and up
You may have taken your foot off the gas altogether due to morning sickness and/or fatigue but now is the time to get your body moving. I had gone from exercising most weeks pre-pregnancy (though I’m definitely no fitness junkie) to literally being sedentary for the entire first trimester. The only movement I was getting was walking and even then I barely scrapped 5,000 steps a day. By Week 14, and assuming you are low-risk, is a good time to find a local pre-natal pregnancy yoga class. It’s a great way to meet other expectant mothers in your community and follow an instructor who knows what movements are safe to do during pregnancy. Lockdown curtailed this activity for me but I found some great resources online:

Busy Lizzy - They offer 4 mums-to-be yoga classes each week for £20 a month membership via their private Facebook Group. They also offer Mother & Baby classes (including Baby Yoga and Baby Sign) for after your little one arrives. Find them here. 

PilatesPT - Just as lockdown struck, Hollie Grant of PilatesPT launched her Bump Plan; a series of tailored trimester workouts for safe cardio and strengthening exercises to support your body throughout pregnancy and prepare it for birth. For £10 a session, you join via Zoom and there’s the option of Bump Plan: 1st & 2nd Trimester, Bump Plan: 3rd Trimester and Pre-Natal Pilates. Follow Hollie on Instagram.

Psycle - One form of exercise I have missed since living in New York is Barre. I was super excited to discover that Psycle are offering a series of free Live and IGTV workouts during lockdown. Barre 45 is safe for mommas-to-be but check out the 10 minute video about adapting certain moves for pregnancy before you do one! I love feeling that burn!! Tune into their Instagram Live classes.

Peloton - Yes, they are outrageously expensive but, boy, is it amazing to have a plethora of classes at your fingertips. You can sign up to a Peloton membership for £39 a month (it does require the bike). My favourite thing to do is the 10 minute arm exercise with weights. I’m not an avid spinner (though the husband is) but I didn't want to be stressing my body out with a new form of exercise right now when it already has so much going on. Though I am enjoying some gentle scenic cycling and other prenatal yoga classes they have to offer.

Baby's first kicks 
And, of course, the biggest highlight which I haven't mentioned yet is the first kicks!! As a first time mum, it was something I was SO excited to experience. Those early day movements felt like bubbles, wriggles and little belly flips - that's how they are often described wherever you read about what to expect. My experience was they felt more like wind moving along my digestive tract... I guess, to date, that's what I associated with movement in that part of my body! I had suspected a few light flutterings when lying very still one night with my hands on my lower abdomen, just above my pubic bone. The next day I had my 16 week midwife appointment where they assessed baby's position and listened for the heartbeat. As a result of this, I knew exactly where baby was lying so when I went home that evening, Ryan and I lay quietly with our hands poised and felt the first kicks. It was super delicate to the touch but felt more significant to me. Of course, the kicks, wriggles and turns get more profound as the weeks fly by and you'll soon forget what life was like before a constant wriggler has bedded in your tummy. It really is magical.

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I think that's all for my second trimester tips - it really is the 'easiest' of the three in my opinion so 'enjoy' it if you can! Of course, you are physically and mentally still going through huge changes so it's not unusual to have down days and panicky thoughts. Make sure you have someone you can talk to and be sure to be an open book with your midwife so they can offer you the right support.

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