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Second trimester: 10 big things to think about for dads

You’ve got your head around the baby news and are out of the first trimester. Here’s what dads need to know about the second part of pregnancy…

1. How your baby is developing

By the time your partner is out of the first trimester, there is a whole lot going on with the baby. When your partner is 13 weeks pregnant, the baby will weigh around 25g and their genitals will be forming, before their kidneys start to work at 14 weeks.

Your baby will start to hear around week 15. So it’s worth talking to them to let them get to know their dad’s voice.

At 16 weeks your baby can start to move their face, although they aren’t in control of those movements (NHS Choices, 2017a). At week 17 they are starting to look more human, rather than like the little tadpole they were early on.

By 21 weeks your baby is beginning to get into a pattern of sleeping and waking. They will also be practising breathing movements, before their lungs have developed by around week 24 (NHS Choices, 2017c).

2. When your baby will move

You’ll get some exciting moments around 18 to 20 weeks when your partner will notice your baby’s first movements. It’s a pretty special thing. Put your hands on her stomach and see if you can feel them wriggling too (NHS Choices, 2017b).

Your baby’s movements will ramp up from then until week 28. The baby may even be affected by loud noises, which can make them jump or kick (NHS Choices, 2017d).

3. How your partner might be feeling

If you thought the first trimester was the major one for symptoms, the second trimester has a few of its own too. Here are some to look out for:

  • Increased sex drive – whether it’s due to pregnancy hormones or increased blood flow to the pelvic area, she might be feeling quite frisky.

  • Headaches – some women get lots of headaches in pregnancy so get ready to be sympathetic.

  • Tiredness – while the first trimester is widely known for its ‘I need a nap NOW’ qualities, your partner might feel tired during the second trimester too.

  • Back pain – during pregnancy the ligaments in women’s bodies naturally become softer to prepare for labour. This can put strain on your partner’s lower back and pelvis.

  • Indigestion and heartburn – these symptoms are both very common in pregnancy because of hormonal changes and the baby pressing against your partner’s stomach.

  • Swollen feet, hands and face – these are due to water retention.

    (NICE, 2008; NHS Choices, 2017a; NHS Choices, 2017b; NHS Choices, 2017d;NHS Choices, 2017e; NHS Choices, 2018a; NHS Choices, 2018b)

4. How you can help your partner

  • Give her paracetamol for her headaches if she needs it – these are allowed during pregnancy.

  • Take away any stress in her life that you can, so she is more chilled out and relaxed.

  • Share the housework and give her time to rest if she wants to (bonus: sitting with her feet up can help with water retention too).

  • Do the heavy lifting – your partner’s back can be at risk of damage during pregnancy. So help by lifting heavy objects or carrying heavy shopping.

    (NICE, 2008; NHS Choices, 2017d; NHS Choices, 2017f; NHS Choices, 2018a)

5. The anomaly scan

The big landmark around this time is the anomaly scan. If you opt to have it, you’ll have it between 18 to 21 weeks (NHS Choices, 2018c).

The sonographer will check to see whether your baby is developing normally. They will look in detail at their bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen.

6. Finding out the sex of the baby

Ah yes, one more thing about the anomaly scan. You’ll also be able to find out the sex of the baby too, if you want to…

7. Antenatal classes

Now the first trimester has been and gone, it’s time to start getting serious about this baby business. That means learning how it all works.

NCT or NHS antenatal classes are a good place to meet other soon-to-be parents. They can also prepare you and your partner for labour and help you learn how to look after a small human being.

Most classes start around 30 to 32 weeks into your partners pregnancy (NHS Choices, 2018d). You can go along to them with your partner.

8. Paternity leave and pay

If you are employed, now is a good time to arrange to sit down and discuss your paternity leave arrangements (ACAS, 2018). You are entitled to up to two weeks paid paternity pay, which shouldn’t affect pay rises or building up holidays. The rules are: you can’t take paternity leave until your baby is born, and you have to take it within 56 days of the birth (Gov UK, 2018a)

9. Whether to take up shared leave

Another option is that you and your partner can take shared parental leave. To be eligible you must both have been employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is born (Gov UK, 2018b).

If you take this up, you’ll share a ‘pot’ of leave. You can decide to be off work at the same time and/or take it in turns to have time off to look after your baby.

10. Spending

Money can be a massive concern before a baby arrives and it’s easy to feel pressured to buy a whole house full of new things. But the truth? Baby requirements are pretty small.

Babies need somewhere to sleep, some baby grows, nappies, blankets, a car seat if you have a car, a pram or buggy, and a baby carrier. Re-use stuff from older children if you have them or ask family and friends to pass their old items on.

It’s also worth checking out NCT’s Nearly New Sales and websites like Freecycle. If you are struggling with money, contact Citizens Advice to get information about benefits and dealing with debt.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.