We wanted to provide a brief overview how Ayurveda views the second trimester of pregnancy and provide some simple and safe recommendations during this second phase of the pregnancy journey. For an overview of the basics of pregnancy and general guidelines, visit our last post on the “beginnings of pregnancy.” What's Happening with Your Baby During the fourth month, the vital organs are formed and start functioning. By the 4th month the fetus starts to express its desires through the cravings of the mother. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends to honor these cravings as much as possible, within reason. In the fifth and six months focus is placed on nourishing the uterine muscles and nourishing the embryo.
By the end of the 6th month the baby is about 15" long and weights about 2 ½ lbs. The hairs have developed, facial expressions begin, and the fetus begins to gain strength and resemble a miniature human.
What is Happening in Your Body You may begin to notice some of the discomforts of the first trimester disappearing such as nausea and fatigue. Additionally, since the uterus is rising into the abdomen with the growth of the baby, there can be some temporary improvement in that feeling of having to pee all the time (it does tend to return later in pregnancy however!) Around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy you may begin to feel your baby moving for the first time! Be gentle with yourself in the realms of exercise - the hormone Relaxin is causing your ligaments and joints to be looser, so it's easier to overstretch or injure yourself, especially with the change in your center of gravity.
Around 24-28 weeks a typical growth spurt occurs in the baby and you may gain 5-10 pounds during this time, as your blood volume expands considerably. You may notice an increase in your appetite and possibly your fatigue level due to the increased needs of the baby and your body's need to expand your blood volume. Be sure to eat lots of iron rich foods during this time such as dark leafy greens, stewed dried fruits, and if you eat meat it's a good time for meat soups and iron-rich meats. Check with your care provider to be sure, but if you have been needing iron supplementation, this is the time to step it up. We recommend Floradix or Blood Builder. Also be sure to eat enough calories, with ample protein (70-100 grams/day), healthy fats and plenty of veggies.
During 2nd trimester you will probably also begin to experience toning contractions. This is the normal healthy way that your uterus begins to prepare itself for labor.
It's very common to go for an ultrasound around 20 weeks to determine the sex of the baby. From a midwifery perspective, I encourage women to wait until at least 23 weeks, and longer if possible, as prior to that time it's much more common for "problems" to be found. The reason for this is that the baby is developing quickly and not fully developed. Sometimes couples are unnecessarily frightened by unclear pictures that show up in earlier ultrasounds and further testing is done, often with the end result that in fact, all is well. Some needless worry can be saved by waiting a few more weeks to catch a glimpse of your babe.
Second Trimester Suggestions for Almost Everyone By the second trimester the fetus gains stability, and the vital organs are developed and start functioning! It is believed this is also when the mother’s cravings should be satisfied as a way to nourish and welcome the divine soul in, which is expressing itself through cravings. As the fetus becomes stabilized, we naturally have more energy, and want to get back to being more active. In addition to what is mentioned in our first trimester post, this is a great time to start a prenatal yoga practice, begin daily walking if you haven’t, and engage in more pranayama.
- Remember fresh, local & organic
- Continued emphasis is placed on liquid nourishment, lots of warm herbal infusions, warm milks, and water
- The Ayurvedic texts also recommend eating ample amounts of rice, milk, butter, ghee and curd, fruits that are orange and yellow, and leafy greens
- Generally speaking it's important to eat a pitta pacifying diet
- Remember that if you are suffering from imbalances it is also helpful to remember to eat foods balancing for your dosha (See below for a reminder)
Ayurvedic Lifestyle Tips:
- Continue to avoid hard, uncomfortable seats; suppressing your natural urges; too much or too intense exercise; lengthy trips (long periods in the car on an airplane without movement); very loud sounds; and sex until the 5th month.
- General massage with a trained practitioner or gentle abhyanga is now a beneficial practice. See our previous post on abhyanga for more information.
- Prenatal Yoga. Visit a local class, check out Shiva Rea's prenatal yoga DVD, or Yoga Mama Yoga Baby by Margo Bachman. We'll have a later post with some nice routines.
- Deep breathing and/or pranayama including gentle alternate nostril breathing. If pranayama is new to you, start by observing your breath, and practicing some deep breathing.
- Deep Breathing Instructions from Yoga Therapist Genevieve Yellin
- Place your right hand on your chest, your left hand on your abdomen. Break the inhalation and the exhalation into two parts.
- Inhalation: The first half of the inhalation is drawn into the abdomen (expand the abdomen), the second half into the chest (expand the chest). Make the count for the first and second part equal (e.g. a count of 3 into the abdomen, and a count of 3 into the chest).
- Exhalation: Reverse the process of inhalation, first expelling air from chest, then abdomen; at the end of the exhalation, draw the navel in toward the spine to complete the exhalation. Keep the same cadence as was counted for the inhalation.
- Walk Walk Walk!
General Ayurvedic Changes During Pregnancy & How this Impacts Diet
From a doshic or elemental perspective a woman’s body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. The more we understand our constitution, the more we can use diet and lifestyle to bring balance. We are providing a brief overview of the doshic changes below, but if the word dosha is new to you, we strongly recommend getting our booklet to learn more about where you fit.
VATA Vata dosha is responsible for the expansion and intense transformation happening inside. This can also mean excess Vata dosha (too much of the dry, light, mobile, cool, or clear qualities), which may lead to constipation, dry skin, nervousness/anxiety, absent mindedness, or difficulty sleeping.
PITTA The changes in metabolism and increased bodily heat are due to Pitta dosha (hot, sharp, light, penetrating, or oily qualities), which may also lead to irritability, anemia, morning sickness, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, bleeding tendencies, or trouble falling asleep.
KAPHA Finally, the increase in bulk (especially later in pregnancy) is due to, and can lead to excess Kapha (slow, heavy, dull, sluggish, cloudy, cool, and oily qualities), this may contribute to excess weight gain, fluid retention, excess congestion, yeast infections, or excess sleep.
This information helps us to understand, at least briefly, what we may be experiencing at a given time, and how to begin finding balance. Yes, food can help us alleviate some of the annoying pregnancy ailments. For those who want more detail about doshic diets during pregnancy, we strongly recommend checking out the pregnancy booklet, which we will make available within a few weeks.