We guide you through the action-packed middle stage of pregnancy: from feeling your baby kick for the first time to deciding where you want to give birth and arranging maternity leave.
14 weeks pregnant
Announcing your pregnancy
Whether you post a bump picture on Facebook or sit down with your parents over a coffee; if you’ve held off from letting everyone know that a baby is about to join your family, you may now be ready to shout the good news from the rooftops. The start of the second trimester is also a good time to start thinking about when you will tell work that you’re pregnant.
As soon as you’ve let them know that you’re expecting, your employer has a legal obligation to make sure that your working environment is safe for you and your baby. This means that they have to do a health and safety assessment, you don’t have to do overtime, you’re entitled to paid time off work for maternity care appointments and you have more safeguards in case you’re threatened with redundancy. The best thing is that you don’t have to wait until you have the MATB1 certificate for your maternity rights to kick in – just telling your employer about your pregnancy is enough.
16 weeks pregnant
Shopping for your baby
It’s time for your second antenatal appointment, and if you’re lucky you may be able to listen to your baby’s heartbeat with a doppler for the first time. If you’re having a straightforward pregnancy, this appointment will probably be with a midwife, but if your pregnancy is classed as higher risk, it may be with a consultant doctor instead.
In the second trimester, your energy levels tend to peak and this could be a great time to start preparing for baby essentials you’ll soon need. But with so many options, finding the best products can be daunting. Our guide to pushchair types will help you find the best for you, while you can put your mind at ease by choosing a Best Buy baby car seat, knowing it has passed tough Which? safety tests and should be easy to fit too.
Also, visit our cot bed reviews if you’re thinking about buying one before your baby is born. As well as the big product purchases, it’s worth thinking about the day-to-day costs of having a baby. Your little one will get through nappies at shocking speed so have a think about whether or not you will want to use reusable or disposable nappies. Maternity leave can be a tricky time financially for many families, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead.
18 weeks pregnant
When you’re between 18 and 20 weeks pregnant you’ll have your second NHS scan, a foetal anomaly scan. Your baby will definitely seem a lot more, well, baby-like, to you now and might even yawn, suck their thumb or stretch out a leg or arm while you’re having the scan done. If you want to, you may be able to find out if your baby is a boy or a girl at this scan, but bear in mind that it’s not always 100% accurate.
The sonographer will do a detailed check of your baby’s health and also have a look at the position of your placenta. If the placenta is too low down, it could mean that you have to have an elective c-section. But as a first step, you’ll be asked to come to a scan later on in your pregnancy to see if it has moved further up. The position of the placenta can also affect how early you may feel your baby kick. If the placenta is on the front of your uterus it could take a few weeks longer before you feel your baby move for the first time. After you’ve felt those first flutters, it will be another few weeks at least until anyone else will be able to feel the kicks on the outside of your bump.
20 weeks pregnant
Planning where to give birth
Reaching the halfway point in your pregnancy is a real milestone. Suddenly, you’re just a few months away from meeting your baby! It’s a good idea to start preparing for the birth around this stage, so you have plenty of time to get organised. If you’re still deciding whether giving birth at home, in a birth centre or on a labour ward, our Where to give birth tool can help you compare options to see which one might be the best fit for you. It’s also a good idea to discuss your thoughts about the place of birth with your midwife, and possibly go on a tour of the maternity unit you’re considering to get a feel of what it’s like.
We’ve pulled together a list of questions about maternity units that you can ask your midwife when deciding where to give birth, to make sure you cover everything that’s important to you. If you’re thinking about having a home birth, you may want to look into booking a birth pool and start planning what other bits and pieces you will need. Here, three mums talk about what their home births were like, and share their top tips for anyone thinking about giving birth at home
22 weeks pregnant
Arranging maternity leave
Now is a good time to start planning your maternity leave. You have until the end of your 25th week to let your employer know which day you want your statutory maternity leave to start. You’ll need to hand in your MATB1 certificate (available from your midwife or doctor) to get statutory maternity pay. Read our guide to maternity and paternity rights for more information about the pay or benefits you could be entitled to and how to plan your leave, including handy template letters to hand in to employers.
You may also want to set up a will to make sure that your legal and financial affairs are protected and a guardian of your choice is appointed for your baby if something should happen to you. Have you thought about antenatal classes yet? It could be a good idea to start looking. Although classes don’t usually start until you’re around 30 weeks pregnant, groups can get booked up quickly. Ask your midwife which NHS antenatal classes are available where you live, including NCT courses if you’re thinking about signing up to private classes.
24 weeks pregnant
Preparing for life with a newborn
While your little one is busy growing at lightning speed on the inside, you may be starting to think about their early weeks on the outside. If this is your first baby, you’ll have a midwife appointment around now. Midwives are there to help you with postnatal care as well as pregnancy and birth, so you can ask always ask them questions about looking after your newborn, for example how to prepare to start breastfeeding.
We also have advice on the breastfeeding essentials, like nursing bras and maternity pillows, which can make the early days of breastfeeding a bit easier. Some women choose to express colostrum in the final weeks of pregnancy or want to start pumping milk after the birth. This can be done through hand expressing, but you may find it easier to use a pump – check out our latest reviews of manual and electric breast pumps for help on how to choose the best one for you.
26 weeks pregnant
Time for a holiday?
At the end of the second trimester, some first-time parents-to-be plan to go away for a final holiday as a couple (also known as a babymoon). If you’re looking to go abroad when pregnant, check with your airline to see if they have any restrictions for pregnant women. They usually allow you to travel up until you’re around 32 to 36 weeks pregnant, if you’re healthy and not carrying multiples, and you’ll likely need a letter from your doctor confirming you’re fit to fly. When in the air, make sure you use support socks and get up and move around the plane every half an hour or so, as you’re at a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis when you’re pregnant.
It’s also a good idea to bring your maternity notes, travel insurance details and EHIC card (if travelling within Europe) on your holiday so you have peace of mind if you need medical care abroad unexpectedly. You may also want to visit your dentist when you’re at this stage as pregnancy hormones can affect your gums. Luckily, dental care and prescriptions are free when you’re pregnant and for the first year after your baby’s born. To qualify, your doctor or midwife can give you a form to get a maternity exemption certificate or MatEx card.