The 19th week of pregnancy or the 5th month of pregnancy is when most of the major organs and organ systems have formed in the fetus. The formed organ system continues to grow and form its respective shapes in the following months. The weight of the fetus increases each month to become a baby that can survive outside of the uterus. Vernix caseosa, a white creamy fatty substance secreted by the oil (sebaceous) glands of fetal skin, helps coat the entire body to prevent it from pickling in the fluid around the baby (the amniotic fluid). The umbilical cord continues to thicken, as it carries nourishment to the fetus. However, as harmful substances can also pass through the umbilical cord, care should be taken to avoid any substance abuse.
Changes in the female body and symptoms
The second trimester is the most physically enjoyable time for the women. It is the turning point for both the mother and fetus. The metabolic rate of the mother increases to carry essential amino acids, carbohydrates, and minerals for fetal organ development. The increased fetal demand for oxygen supply leads to accelerated red blood cell (RBC) production and increased blood volume. Increased blood flow may make the mother feel warmer than before. She may also sweat more and thus needs to drink more fluids. The mother may feel the flutter (quickening) movement of the baby inside her belly. Also, she may experience other pregnancy-related symptoms such as:
- Melasma (also called the mask of pregnancy, and it refers to the appearance of brownish patches on the face particularly on the forehead, nose, and cheeks)
- Skin pigmentation and darkening of the nipples
- Backaches and low back pain due to weight gain
- Varicose veins (abnormally swollen veins) and hemorrhoids (piles)
- Dry, flaky skin, and red palms
- Indigestion, heartburn, and dizziness
- Tiredness due to sleep deprivation
- Urine and vaginal infections
Fetal growth and development
The baby grows rapidly in length and weight. It measures around half a pound and six-inch long. Major developments take place in the brain, and the sensory areas of touch, sight, taste, sound, and smell are allocated and stimulated. Vernix develops and covers the fetal skin from head to toe and protects it from getting chipped or scratched from its toenail. Fine hair known as lanugo continues to grow on the head. The hearing develops, and the baby can now hear the mother’s voice clearly during conversations. The stomach produces acidic gastric juices, and meconium continues to form from the ingested amniotic fluid. The legs strengthen in proportion to arms and make more powerful kicks, jabs, and punches. In females, the reproductive system is well established with ovaries packed with six million primitive egg cells. In males, the testicles have formed fully and been secreting testosterone (the male hormone). The external genitals continue to grow. The fetus begins to wake and sleep in more regular patterns now and wakes up to the movement and noises of the surroundings.
Checkups and fetal examinations
During the second trimester prenatal checkups, the healthcare provider will continue to check on the mother’s and baby’s health. The size of the uterus is measured. Fetal heartbeat and mother’s vitals are monitored. The current symptoms and discomforts are investigated. Further auxiliary examinations are performed to confirm the fetal growth, health, and development:
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