The second trimester falls between the 4th month and 6th month of the pregnancy calendar, or between week-13 and week-28. The second trimester is, for many women, the easiest three months of pregnancy as your morning sickness starts to lessen. During your second trimester, you must visit your gynaecologist every month. The visits may be short and quick, but they are essential.
Common checkups performed during the second trimester
To ensure the second trimester of your pregnancy passes off smoothly, the following checkups are performed during this sensitive period:
- Fetal heartbeat
The heartbeat of the fetus is checked with a Doppler ultrasound. The Doppler technology uses sound waves for checking the heartbeat of the fetus.
- Oedema or swelling
The doctor will look for swelling in your feet, ankles or legs. Swelling of the feet is a very common phenomenon observed during pregnancy and may get more severe during the third trimester of pregnancy. It could be normal particularly with multiple pregnancy or it may be a sign of complications such as preeclampsia, blood clot or gestational diabetes.
- Weight gain
During this phase, your weight is measured to compare and assess the change in weight with pre-pregnancy weight. Doctors also assess how much weight you have gained since your last visit. If you are gaining more weight, you may be advised to reduce your intake of certain food items. If you are not gaining enough weight, you may be advised to follow a diet regime or take food supplements.
- Blood pressure
Blood pressure decreases during pregnancy in response to changing hormones and blood volume. The doctor checks whether blood pressure has dropped as expected. In the case of very low blood pressure, you need to be careful in standing up from a sitting or lying position and avoid abrupt movements. High blood pressure can lead to serious problems during pregnancy. In such cases, the doctor may look for symptoms of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.
Tests performed during the second trimester. They include the following:
- Urine test
Urine is screened for the presence of glucose and protein. It is also tested for the presence of bacteria. If you have a urinary tract infection, you would get burning sensation while passing urine and may have fever.
This investigation is done at various times during your pregnancy. Between your 18th and 22nd week of pregnancy you’ll have an ultrasound so your doctor can see how your baby is progressing. You will also have an ultrasound as part of the screening for Down Syndrome and trisomy 13 and trisomy 18. It is recommended to have this test at week 12 but it can be done from week 11 to week 13 and 6 days. It is a highly specialized ultrasound and is combined with a blood test for 3 chemicals found in the blood of all pregnant women. It is important to remember that this is a screening test only and does not indicate for sure if your baby will have the condition. You should discuss with your doctor if you need to get the confirmation tests done.
- Confirmation tests after positive screening
When the result is “screen positive”, the following options are available: Diagnostic testing by chorionic villus sampling (CVS) performed between 10-13 weeks, diagnostic testing by amniocentesis performed after 15 weeks, second trimester maternal serum screening drawn after 15 weeks to obtain a combined first and second trimester screening result and detailed anatomy ultrasound performed at approximately 18-20 weeks.
- Quadruple test
The Quad screen — also known as the Quadruple marker test or simply the Quad test — is a prenatal test that measures levels of four hormones in a pregnant woman’s blood:
Typically, the quad screen is done between weeks 15 and 20 of pregnancy — the second trimester.
The quad screen is done to evaluate your risk of carrying a baby who has any of the following conditions: Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), Spina bifida, and Anencephaly.
The quad screen is optional. Test results only indicate whether you have an increased risk of carrying a baby who has Down syndrome, not whether your baby actually has the condition. If your risk level is moderate or high, you might choose to follow the quad screen with another test that’s more definitive such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.
- Blood tests
To measure your haemoglobin levels if they were low, as well as the levels of blood sugar and any other parameters to make sure that you are maintaining good health.
Regardless of the tests that you need to take, you may always feel free to talk to the experts if you have any query relating to early pregnancy tests or any other related issues that bother you. Use your prenatal checkups and visits to solve all your queries and free yourself from any worries of pregnancy.