Many women describe the second trimester of pregnancy, encompassing weeks 13–27, as the easiest. This is usually when you will have an ultrasound that determines movement, heartbeat, sex and overall health. As the fetus develops, we may check more factors to see if the pregnancy is on track for success. In the second trimester, we may conduct fetal genetic screening including either AFP (Alpha Fetal Protein) or Quad Screen for spina bifida.
In your fourth month, your skin and muscles are starting to stretch to accommodate your growing baby. As your uterus grows, you might notice sharp side aches that come with sudden movements such as coughing or sneezing. These are normal and are called round ligament pain. Your baby’s arms and legs are moving and it will begin responding to outside stimuli. You may be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat and you may be able to determine his or her gender on an ultrasound.
AFP or Quad Screen
In the second trimester, around 15–20 weeks of pregnancy, your caregiver will perform either an AFP test to detect neural tube defects or a quad screen test to detect signs of Down’s Syndrome or other chromosome disorders. Combined with the nuchal fold screening, Down’s Syndrome can be detected about 90–95% of the time. If the test results are abnormal, Clinic Sofia offers an amniocentris, which is a diagnostic test involving the removal of an amniotic fluid sample. This sample is tested for the number and arrangement of chromosomes.
For either of these diagnostic tests, you will be referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine and high-risk counselors if your healthcare provider has concerns about your baby’s DNA. Sofia recommends genetic screening first because it is easily done with a blood test and may indicate no risk to your baby, but screening is not necessary before diagnostic tests. If an abnormality is confirmed, your Clinic Sofia caregiver can discuss your options with you.
By the end of this time you’ll have reached the midpoint of your pregnancy. You’ll most likely be feeling the baby move, called quickening. By the end of the 20th week, the baby weighs about 9 ounces. It’s moving often, and can hear sounds, make facial expressions and even get the hiccups.
In your sixth month, your pregnant stomach is definitely noticeable. You may notice cramping or swelling in your legs and feet or aches in your lower back. Your baby is becoming more proportioned now and is starting to resemble a newborn. White blood cells are forming to combat disease and infection.
You may notice stretch marks as your uterus continues to expand. You’ll be gaining about one pound each week. With the added weight, you may experience changes in your balance or mobility. Your baby’s skin becomes transparent and the heartbeat can be heard now through a stethoscope. The hands are active and the baby may suck its thumb. Your baby can also cry.
During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect insulin stores in the mother, resulting in gestational diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to several problems, including preterm labor, birth defects, large babies and stillbirth. To test for diabetes, Clinic Sofia measures your glucose level in a blood sample that is taken after you drink a sugar solution. If your glucose is elevated, an additional diagnostic test will be performed to detect diabetes. This test is important because if you have gestational diabetes, you may be at a higher risk to develop type II diabetes later in life. If you do develop diabetes during pregnancy, Clinic Sofia will test your glucose levels again after birth to monitor your health.
For full information, please see the Pregnancy Information Packet (PDF).