The Second Trimester

The second trimester of pregnancy starts during the 13th week and ends during the 27th week. For most women, the second trimester marks the end of many unpleasant symptoms that started in the first trimester. These may include breast tenderness and morning sickness.

However, the second trimester may bring about other symptoms. You may notice changes in your skin, vision, and gums. Most of these changes are only temporary and will go away after pregnancy.

Skin Changes

Stretch Marks

As your belly expands with your baby, you may notice purple, red, or silver marks on your skin. These are called stretch marks. Stretch marks happen when your skin grows too quickly and the fibers in your skin tear.

When they first develop, stretch marks are usually red or purple. This is because the blood vessels in the dermis are showing. Your stretch marks should fade after delivery, but it can be difficult to completely eliminate them.

Skin Darkening

Many women experience skin darkening during their pregnancy. Experts aren’t exactly sure why. Some believe it’s caused by increased levels of estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone stimulate the pigment-producing skin cells to make more melanin. But they don’t make it uniformly. You may notice skin darkening on your body in a number of places, including:

  • around the navel, or belly button
  • on and around the nipples
  • in the area between the anus and the vulva, called the perineum
  • on the inner thighs
  • in the armpits
  • on the face, a condition called chloasma

Skin darkening is made worse by sunlight. You should always use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. The darkened skin will usually fade after the baby is born. If it doesn’t, your doctor can prescribe an ointment to lighten the discoloration.

“Glowing” Skin

An increased blood volume, which peaks during the second trimester, causes this. You may notice this in places that have a lot of blood vessels, such as your face.

Oily Skin and Increased Perspiration

During pregnancy all of your glands are working harder. You may notice that your complexion is much more oily and you sweat more often. This may also cause you to experience acne. Make sure you are only cleaning your face with mild soaps and scrubs.

Spider Veins

Spider veins are caused when an increase in hormones causes a higher volume of blood to travel through your veins. The veins are tiny blood vessels just below the skin’s surface. The increased blood flow makes them much easier to see during pregnancy. Some spider veins go away and others do not. If they bother you after delivery, dermatologists can use a process called sclerotherapy to get rid of them.

Heat Rash

Heat rash is caused when blocked sweat ducts trap your sweat under your skin. The rash usually appears as red, itchy, and inflamed skin. You’re more likely to develop it under skin fold such as your armpit or under your breasts.

You can try to avoid this condition by not taking hot baths and showers. Applying cornstarch after bathing can help you soothe heat rash.

Itchy and Sensitive Skin

You may notice itchy and red skin on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands. The skin around your abdomen may also become itchy and sensitive where it’s the most stretched. You can manage this condition by avoiding scratching and applying moisturizer.

Blotchy Skin

You may notice your skin becoming blotchy, or red, when you’re feeling cold. This commonly develops on the feet and legs.

Skin Tags

Small skin tags are growths of skin that commonly appear under your arms or breasts. They often disappear on their own, but can be removed by your doctor if they don’t.

New Moles

You may develop new moles during pregnancy. These are not typically the kinds that become cancerous. However, it’s a good idea to show your doctor any new moles.

Vision Changes

You may notice that your eyesight is worse during your pregnancy or that your eyes seem drier than usual. These are normal changes in response to pregnancy hormones.

You should contact your doctor if you notice that your vision is blurry or dimmed. If you experience double vision, spots, or floaters, contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms can indicate a serious condition.

Gum Changes

Your gums may also change during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones cause your gums to be more sensitive, swollen, and likely to bleed, particularly after brushing and flossing. Tooth decay and gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, are more likely to occur when you’re pregnant. So it’s important to take care of your teeth. In addition, there are a number of things you can do at home to keep your teeth in good health:

  • use a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • brush regularly and frequently after every meal
  • brush softly
  • floss at least once a day
  • rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash
  • avoid sweets
  • eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C, like fruits and vegetables

You may also find that you have tiny tender nodules on your gums. These are called “pregnancy tumors,” or pyogenic granulomas. They may hurt and bleed, but they’re nothing to be worried about. They’re not cancerous and usually will go away after delivery. Your dentist can remove them if they are bothering you.

The Takeaway

You many notice many different changes in your body during pregnancy. Most of these changes are harmless and will go away after you have delivered your baby. However, you should always talk to your doctor if you are concerned about a new symptom. They can confirm that it’s a result of your pregnancy, not a symptom of another condition.