Prenatal Visits: Second Trimester Testing and Checkup

by Shannon Bartlett

Your second trimester checkup and screening visit will be around 16-18 weeks

Second Trimester CheckupYou're probably feeling better and have more energy since you've entered the second trimester. At your appointment, you can expect to hear your baby's heartbeat, talk about your screening results and to decide if you'd like to do additional testing.

Your baby's busy growing, too. By the end of the second trimester your tiny babe will have almost doubled in length! You might even feel little flutters of movement now. If not, you will in the next few weeks. Your baby will definitely make himself or herself known!

Action Item List

actions for your prenatal visitFor most moms, prenatal visits during the second trimester occur every four weeks. Your caregiver might suggest extra appointments or tests depending on your age and potential complications.

This visit's a perfect time to talk about fitness and nutrition since you probably can face food again and have the energy to exercise.

Your Tasks

• Bring your list of questions. Encourage your partner to bring questions to the appointment as well. Jot them down ahead of time and then all you'll have to remember is the list. You may create a pregnancy journal to keep track of what's going on, including questions you can bring to your healthcare provider.

• Schedule your second trimester ultrasound. Your baby might cooperate and let you know if you're on team blue or team pink. The technician will also be looking at the organs and general growth. If anything comes up, they'll communicate that with you and your healthcare provider.

Appointment-Specific Checklist

• Part two screening: If you opted to screen for down syndrome and other genetic disorders, you've had the first trimester screening done. Between week 15 and week 18, you'll be offered an alphafetoprotein triple screen, or AFP3. This test, sometimes called DownScreen Plus, or a multiple marker test, helps identify possible neural tube defects or chromosomal problems such as Down's syndrome. If you opt for the screening, you'll have blood drawn today for the second half of this sequential test.

• Listen to the baby's heartbeat. If you haven't already heard that ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump, you might in for a thrill. The baby's position, the location of the placenta, your weight and the room's background noise influence how soon you can hear it with a doppler, so don't worry if you have to wait until the next visit.

Routine Visit Checklist

Weigh in: Kick off your shoes and step up on the scale. During each appointment your weight will be checked. If you start pregnancy at a normal weight, experts suggest you gain two to four pounds the first trimester and about a pound a week for the rest of the pregnancy.

• Screen urine: You get to pee in a cup again. Then urine will be tested for protein, sugar and ketones. Whoever knew pee had such a story to tell.

• Check blood pressure: At each prenatal checkup your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure. If it's high early in pregnancy, you'll be offered extra blood pressure checks, stress management ideas and if necessary, medication.

• Fundal height: The midwife or doctor might measure your fundal height this visit. After the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the distance from the top of your uterus to your public bone often matches the number of weeks you've been pregnant. It's common for the fundal height to measure a little smaller or larger than expected.

• Talk time: New pregnancy symptoms often appear in the second trimester. You might be bothered by stuffy nose, shortness of breath or chloasma, also called mask of pregnancy. This is a good time to ask your midwife or doctor what's happening during the second trimester and how you can best be prepared.

Questions to Ask

Common questions at the first trimester wrap up visitAre you concerned about food, medicines, exercise, new aches and pains, prenatal classes, birthing choices or sex? Feel free to ask anything.

Are you wondering what questions other second trimester moms bring to their appointments? We've tapped our members to see what they'd ask. Try these out:

• What can I do to prevent chloasma? Will it go away on its own?
• How can I get more rest at night?
• Are nosebleeds common during pregnancy?
• Should I eat more during the second trimester?
• When should we start prenatal classes?
• Is it okay to dye my hair?
• When should I feel the baby move?
• What can I take for these headaches?
• Can I paint the nursery?

Articles to Read
The Second Trimester of Pregnancy
Tips for Avoiding Excess Weight Gain During Pregnancy
What's Your Pregnant Man Thinking During the Second Trimester

Tools to Use
Find out what's happening each day in your pregnancy!
See how your baby changes each week.
Pregnancy Videos

Get Peer-to-Peer Support
Parent and Birth Groups on Facebook on Twitter

Before you go to your appointment, print out this article and create your own list of notes to share with your healthcare provider!