REFLECTIONS AT THE END OF THE SECOND TRIMESTER
My Emotional, Physical & Practical Experiences from Weeks 20 – 27
I’m starting to realise the phrase ‘everything is a phase’ is a commonly shared phrase in pregnancy / birth / parenthood for a reason.
Even the 7 week window post my 20 week scan has been so incredibly varied in terms of experiences, feelings, physical changes. One week emotions are high, the next I can barely move through back pain, the next I’m starving and tired and the next I’m waking early and ready to take on the day. Each week something changes, evolves, passes or starts, it’s not just the bump that now changes significantly week on week, it’s me too! Everything changes so much – day by day, week by week.
As I share this post now, I am firmly in the third trimester and starting to mentally transition into ‘countdown mode’ as I hit single digit weeks until my due date. As everything changes so quickly I am kicking myself for not fully writing and publishing this post sooner, because the experiences of 10 weeks ago, really do feel like a lifetime ago and so it’s somewhat challenging to fully take myself back to that exact time and how I felt. Fortunately I’ve been making lots of notes and journalling, so I am leaning back on those notes to ensure I am really representative of those experiences in the second trimester.
And a final thought before I share my reflections – the fact it’s hard to remember and the fact things move so quickly is somewhat is reassuring in itself. Everything changes, everything’s a phase and so if you’re struggling now, give it a week or two and often those struggles are a distant memory – I’ll certainly be clinging on to this in those newborn months as we adapt to a whole new world.
Without further ado, my second trimester reflections, very much focussed on post that 20 week scan up until around 27 weeks …
THOUGHTS & FEELINGS AT THE END OF THE SECOND TRIMESTER
I found myself back in a bit of an anxiety rut prior to my 20 week scan. Less so the fear of something being wrong, more just uncontrollable thoughts and mental clutter on the gender. As you already know, we don’t want to find out the gender until birth, and we haven’t, but it was a huge thing on my mind prior to that scan. I was obsessed with old wives tales, nub theory and my mind became a little obsessive on the matter. But funnily enough as soon as that scan happened, the anxiety and mental grapples evaporated immediately – all my over thinking stopped. I suspect in reality the anxiety was more holistic than how it transpired, but after a positive scan and a healthy baby I finally felt really at ease.
If anything our sonographer (an Eddie Redmayne doppelgänger) made the experience really special for us, he was calm, super professional, talked us through every image and every measurement, and even added a little light hearted humour as I told him my mental gender guessing attempts yet our decision not to know. I prompted him on the heartbeat which made him laugh (he obviously knew my psycho ways) and at the end I asked if he knew the gender, to which he smiled, closed my paperwork, slid it across the table, and simple said ‘all good’. It really tickled Jase and I.
From an emotional point of view, it’s fair to say the second trimester for me was actually quite a roller coaster of emotions. Without doubt my biggest symptom (especially weeks 22-24) was my emotions – I was very easily upset, tearful, and really found things more challenging to juggle and manage. The smallest thing could trigger me to feel really quite upset, and I found the people management side of my job really quite emotionally exhausting and i’d regularly end the day with a cry.
Whilst the serious mood swings and uncontrollable emotions passed as I neared the end of the second trimester / entered the third trimester (27 weeks), I am certainly still more emotional than I am normally. Fortunately Jase and I can laugh about it, and he’s definitely learnt his lesson not to provoke a grizzly bear, but it doesn’t mean that ‘in the moment’ I can still be emotionally a little fragile.
Despite those emotions, I’ve felt incredibly positive and excited to meet the baby and birth itself. The second trimester, post that 20 week scan, was the time I dedicated to learning about birth and labour via hypnobirthing (more to come on that) and I found that experience so enlightening and positive, it’s really kept building my positive feelings towards labour and the baby arriving.
Much like everything else i’m experiencing, there has been a lot of physical change, struggles, experiences and like I said before, one week to the next is such a different story.
From about 19/20 weeks I started experiencing crippling pain in my left hip, to the point where I couldn’t really walk or move much, through pain and the feeling getting worse the more I moved.
I started to really worry how i’d do another 20 weeks If I couldn’t move at that stage, and it was the trigger I needed to book in for marternity chiropractic. I’ve now been seeing the Chiropractor weekly since 20 weeks (and I will see her up until birth itself) and the experience has been utterly critical to my health and ability to function.
From weeks 20 – 23 the SI pain I was feeling was causing me a real struggle (often over generalised to pelvic girdle pain, but any Chiropractor will tell you the pelvic area has many components, so identifying what and where the source of tension truly is, is essential for managing it). Weekly visits to the chiropractor really eradicated that pain and has continued to help me manage physical challenges as my pregnancy evolves and lots of new pangs have arisen.
Lots of the physical challenges I’ve experienced (crippling SI pain, very saw ribs at around 23/24 weeks, tight round ligaments and many many more things) are very common, but that doesn’t mean they’re ‘normal’. I’d really recommend anyone struggling with pain to consider a chiropractor to help ensure proper alignment and adjustment where needed. Not just for resolving pain and discomfort, but also for all the benefits of making sure the baby has space to grow, your uterus / cervix / pelvis is all aligned and as it should be (super important for birth), your diaphragm is as it needs to be to help breathing and nervous system functioning and generally making sure your body is as healthy as it can be for the pregnancy. Like I’ve said, I’ve been going weekly and will continue up until pregnancy and beyond, and this is alongside my acupuncture appointments which I have every few weeks too.
At 24 weeks my Acupuncturist did the ‘happy baby’ spot which was lovely, I felt the baby wriggling so much that evening. All my acupuncture appointments are now aligned with my phase in pregnancy (previously I went every 2-3 weeks) and everything she does is reflective of what is needed at that time for me and the baby. As I hit 35 weeks I’ll be going weekly to help ensuring everything is as it needs to be for the exciting arrival of the baby.
One of the funny things about the 20 – 27 week period is that my bump has also changed so much, day by day, morning to night, week by week. I certainly noticed that chiropractic also helped drive those changes, creating more space for baby meant at week 24 I suddenly saw my ribs again which was a funny thing. It only lasted a day or so, but I think it marked a transition from swelling to true baby bump growing. Since then it’s quite naturally continued to grow and grow and grow, and that also means my kicks and the feelings I experience inside have got even more magical and ‘real’ (especially at the end of the second trimester / beginning of my third trimester). Alongside the growing bump, I really started upping my moisturiser game from weeks 25-27 bump as I could feel my skin stretching and really growing more rapidly.
My cravings have evolved and I have been very much loving jazz apples which have become a new daily snack for me. And as the second trimester progressed, my hunger and tiredness started to come back much more like the first trimester again.
One thing I will also say is that I really haven’t had a huge drive or desire to be active and do my usual yoga or get moving. In part i’ve worried about being too static (especially given we’re housebound due to Covid), but then when I do go for a walk i’m knocked back into tiredness and wiped out. It’s hard to not feel guilty when I constantly see other pregnant people on instagram working out daily, keeping their toned bodies and compact bumps, but everyone is different. I am looking after myself in other ways and everything is healthy and as it needs to be – so that’s just one of those things I am working to mentally filter out.
From a practical point of view the second trimester, and specifically weeks 20- 27 which is what these reflections are based on, really felt like a moment for practical action. Which as a planner, was a really nice moment and was something I really enjoyed. It felt like the second scan really gave me permission to start organising and planning things which once again made everything feel all the more real and exciting.
As I went back to work in January I started the conversations on my maternity leave and started to think about that more. A 21 weeks I’d made a plan and agreed with the business how I planned to do my maternity, and also started to think about succession planning at work. If you’re interested i’m actually taking 4 weeks off prior to my due date using my holiday to really make sure I have time to unwind and switch off work before life takes a new course – whilst I am super ambitious and work is a huge part of my life, I really transitioned mentally post 20 weeks to needing and looking forward to that new chapter and break from working. Something I didn’t know that I’d feel, but my body growing, my emotions growing and generally my due date feeling closer as we entered the new year really did change things for me mentally.
As well as sorting my maternity leave, I also started and completed the Positive Birth Company Hypno birthing course and started reading the positive birth book too. These were my main forms of ‘baby prep’ prior to the third trimester and I’d really advocate doing those in the second half of your second trimester – it gives you something to focus on and is a really useful time to do it before lots of other things also come into play (like nesting etc).
I also booked Jase and I onto Bump and Baby which starts at the end of March (31 weeks), it’s a modern NCT and came highly recommended to me by quite a few friends / people on instagram. I wasn’t really sure when I needed to book onto courses like this, and I spent a good few weeks thinking it was too early, BUT, I highly recommend booking post 20 weeks, as many classes get fully booked and you want to ensure you get your ideal location / time period if you choose to do it.
Alongside doing hypnobirthing, signing up to NCT and organising my maternity, I really started to think about the nursery and baby bits. Something I absolutely loved. We didn’t really buy anything until 28 weeks (third trimester) but spending those weeks towards the end of my second trimester browsing, planning and getting excited by all the mega cute baby bits was a lovely experience. We made Pinterest boards and really narrowed down our choices on things like the pram, cot and other essential bits.
Finally I also had some practical appointments, at 24 weeks I had a GP appointment which was a nice check in to see how the bump was growing, check the babies heart beat (something I love), and generally I guess kick start the monitoring that happens more regularly as you end the second trimester and move into the third.
So there we have it, emotional, physical and practical reflections from the second half of my second trimester (20 – 27 weeks). Whilst everyone calls out the second trimester as the honey moon period, I still personally experienced some challenges that didn’t make it all thick gorgeous hair and bountiful energy (still waiting on those …).
The physical pain that started due to my changing body naturally became a big thing to deal with and my emotions really changed in the second trimester which naturally takes a minute to get used to. On the positive I absolutely loved the growing bump (less so the growing thighs and arms but hey, the body is just doing its thing), firmer kicks and the reality that week by week it’s actually a baby inside of there (you can really feel it more as it grows – obviously – but was something I hadn’t thought about), and of course being able to take a little more action and start getting prepared with things like my maternity leave, hypno-birthing course and nursery planning.
Overall I am truly loving being pregnant, for me any negative is far outweighed by the positives and excitement I feel. It feels like such a miracle and truly is a magical experience – your body is a wondrous thing and every week something new happens or evolves which humbles you once again.