Professor Hannah Dahlen (Midwife and midwifery scholar, University of Western Sydney): In the second trimester women are probably focussing a little bit more on the fact that they’re actually having a baby; they’re thinking about things like what room is the baby going to go into, what kind of mum am I going to be? They’ve started to perhaps do antenatal classes, so they’re getting a little bit more information. They’re getting to know their health provider, hopefully, and getting more and more informed, and they’re starting to have conversations with mothers and sisters and other friends about birth, which they may not have had those conversations in the first 12 weeks because some women want to kind of keep the pregnancy quiet.
Professor Hannah Dahlen: The nausea, generally, eases off. The sense of tiredness can ease. Women often feel much better and they feel much more pregnant. Women seem to start to feel quite glowing and generally it’s probably the most healthy and wellest period in pregnancy.
Sevim (mother of Ada, 4 years, and Kaan, 9 months): The hormones are settling more in the second trimester, and it’s like it’s the time that you actually start enjoying the pregnancy.
Ellen (mother of Austin, 11 months): You start feeling the baby move for the first time and you start getting a few of those flutters and kicks and I guess, for the first few times, you think ‘oh is that the baby or is that gas?’ but eventually you realise ‘oh it is the baby’ and that’s very exciting.
Tenisha (mother of Ray, 18 months): Just physical changes like my boobs just were getting bigger, starting to get a bit sore. I found that my nails and my hair was growing a lot more and a lot quicker.
Skye (mother of Mary, 7 months): One thing for me, I could feel my hips and my ribs starting to widen, so I used to have to stretch in the middle of the night up the wall because my ribs really hurt.
Finikias (father of Austin, 11 months): She did keep on vomiting, but now her body shape was actually changing, which was perfect because I think you begin to form somewhat of an attachment to the foetus because you see that there is a belly there.
Tenisha: The biggest physical changes for me were starting to show and just clothes that I’m used to wearing, they were getting a lot tighter. It was a struggle to kind of feel as good as I wanted to.
Skye: I think the best thing you can do is – to feel good about yourself – is actually buy maternity clothes; like buy clothes that will lend to the changes in your body, and you can put you favourite jeans away and just accept that it’s not the time for them now, and then embrace the change.
Professor Hannah Dahlen: Physical symptoms that you might need to go and seek help about are, for example, if you have severe headaches or if you have spots in front of your eyes; if you suddenly get a lot of swelling; important to make sure that your blood pressure hasn’t gone up; any bleeding, again, you should seek help with. But other than that all the general aches and pains that you get during pregnancy are usually quite normal.
Emotional and thinking changes
Professor Hannah Dahlen: During the second trimester there’s, I guess, what we call a settling-into-it. You’re starting to look pregnant, you’re starting to feel less sick, you’re starting to feel less tired, you’ve usually come to terms with it, it’s a time when often you will have an ultrasound done that will tell you that everything’s okay with the baby, so you tend to relax into it and start to really think about becoming a mum, and society out there is starting to recognise you’re pregnant and they’re reinforcing it.
Tenisha: During that second trimester I felt I was able to control myself a lot more emotionally. I really made sure – and it was really pushed on me by the midwives and also by my family – I really wanted to take care of myself; if that was going to get a massage, if that was going shopping by myself for a little bit, if that was just going to the movies, going to dinner with my girlfriends. It was during that time I needed to make sure that I was happy.
Ellen: I think the only negative emotions I had was in relation to body image, and the ongoing nausea and vomiting. I think I felt pretty… and because I’d never had a baby everyone would tell me ‘Oh it will be worth it, it’ll be worth it’, but there were probably times where I thought ‘is it really going to be worth it, because I feel so terrible’ and I felt so terrible for so long.
Finikias: And there was some exhaustion as well, because she was always throwing up so she couldn’t do anything else, which meant that I had to step up looking after her. I think at some point I was emotionally exhausted, which wasn’t fair because we did this together so why should she carry the burden of having all the vomiting and physical changes and I’m just the observer.
Professor Hannah Dahlen: It’s really important that men also find that support. So they may be in an environment where nobody has children; none of their siblings may have had children. So it’s important, also, for dads to get that support and that network.
Skye: The support that I received was great. Because you do a midwife clinic at the hospital, so depending, again, on your mode of care you’ll either see your private doctor – you could end up seeing them fortnightly or monthly – but you can go there and share any feelings, anything that you’re going through. The midwives will generally ask you some questions.
Tenisha: If I felt like I ever needed help I would go seek help. It was always my first priority, just to make sure my health and my mental state of mind – especially during my pregnancy – was at its best.
Skye: Yes, you know you’re pregnant in the first trimester and it’s all very exciting, but until you see that bump or you get that first kick it’s not… for me it wasn’t inherently real.
Finikias: I think the reality of adjusting to being a parent actually hit me in the second trimester, to be honest. Where we’d basically been in a relationship with each other looking after each other’s needs throughout the period of the time we were together, but now that she was about to have a baby you start thinking about ‘we probably need more money; she’s probably going to be out of work for that period of time while he’s still an infant, a baby’. You start thinking about what you need to get and we did, just after the second trimester, start getting everything ready.