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 antenatal 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.
Finding the best child car seat or pushchair can be daunting, with so many products to choose from. Our pushchair chooser tool will help you find the best type 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.
Maternity leave can be a tricky time financially for many families, so check what free and cheap baby stuff is available that could help you with your budget.
18 weeks pregnant: mid-pregnancy scan
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 a 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 for the 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.
We have a lot of information on maternity units near you that can make researching where to give birth a bit easier. For example, if you’re very keen to use water in labour, you can find out how many birth pools your local birth centre or labour wards have as well as how many women have a water birth there.
Some hospitals and birth centres offer tours of the maternity units so you can take a look around and see how you would feel about giving birth there. Bring our checklist of useful questions to ask the midwife.
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.
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22 weeks pregnant: arranging maternity leave
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, they can get booked up quickly.
Ask your midwife which NHS antenatal classes are available where you live or have a look at our guide to the different options, including NCT courses if you’re thinking about signing up to private classes.
It’s also 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.
You can read the Which? Consumer Rights guide to maternity and paternity rights for more information about how to plan your leave, including handy template letters to hand in to your employer.
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.
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.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, reading up on what a good latch looks like, how often newborns feed and how to spot any problems can help you feel prepared. You can also check if the maternity unit where you want to give birth has a Baby Friendly status as you’re then more likely to find good breastfeeding support.
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 2018 reviews of manual and electric breast pumps for help on how to choose the best one for you. We also have advice on other breastfeeding essentials like nursing bras and maternity pillows which can make the early days of breastfeeding a bit easier.
Looking beyond feeding, your baby will get through nappies at shocking speed so have a think about whether or not you will want to use reusable or disposable nappies. Also, visit our cot bed reviews if you’re thinking about buying one before your baby is born.
26 weeks pregnant: at home or away
At the end of the second trimester, some first-time parents-to-be plan to go away for a final holiday as a couple (aka babymoon).
If you’re looking to go abroad, check with your airline to see if they have any restrictions for pregnant women. They usually allow you to fly up until you’re around 32 to 36 weeks pregnant, as long as you’re healthy and not carrying twins.
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.