Expat Guide: Pregnancy in Belgium (Second Trimester)

The glucose/sugar test, an extra ultrasound, meeting up with my pregnant expat friends and taking an emergency/last minute flight to Canada at 27 weeks pregnant. My second trimester was adventurous and incredible, even though the back pains and swollen feet were getting out of control!

You can read about my first trimester HERE.

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The second trimester of pregnancy is weeks 14-28, which is roughly the 4th, 5th and 6th months of this incredible journey.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR SECOND TRIMESTER IN BELGIUM

  • You can ride first class on the train! 
    Okay, so as far as pregnancy news and information goes, this isn’t real important – but when your feet are swollen and your back is aching, a little upgrade feels amazing.
    HOW DO I DO THIS? When you visit your midwife for the first time, she will give you some tear-away cards. They are used for all sorts of things – physiotherapy visits, maternity leave confirmations and YES – train ticket upgrades! From your 6th month, you can train in first class (even with a second class ticket) if you present this card with your ticket.
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  • This will be the best you will feel in a long while – so get out and do things! 
    Meeting with my pregnant expat friends and attending baby showers has been the best part of my second trimester, because it’s getting me so excited about my pregnancy and baby! Sharing the news, love and excitement with people while I am still feeling good has been amazing. In the first part of my second trimester, I was still small enough (and comfortable enough) to adventure around. Now that I am in the first part of my third trimester (and even in the end of the second), I am large, swollen and uncomfortable most of the time, so my adventuring is a little limited!
  • Your pregnancy journey will be different than others and that’s more than okay! 
    “When you have your glucose sugar test, you will have your blood taken twice, once before your drink and then an hour after.” One of my pregnant expat friends explained. BUT, when I got to my hospital (in a different town), I had a very different experience! My blood was only taken once (after the drink) – not that I’m complaining!
    Your pregnancy journey, appointments and meetings will be different than other peoples, and this is no cause of concern! Trust yourself and your doctors.
  • You can still fly if you need to! I was fairly concerned about taking my last minute flight to Canada at almost 28 weeks – but everything went perfectly. (Minus some insane foot swelling due to pressure changes and all that). I Google’d and researched and called my midwife hotline – all with the answer that I was safe to fly – so I did. I later asked my OB/GYN (as I didn’t have time to get checked out before my flight), and she said everything looked fine and that most women (with low risk pregnancies) can travel well into their third trimester if needed.
  • You may be able to stop working sometime soon! Every country has their specific maternity laws, and so does every job! I started my maternity leave at the very end of my second trimester, as I was a physical laborer and laws stated I must go on leave 3 months before my due date.
    You can visit my MATERNITY LEAVE IN BELGIUM post to learn more about maternity leave benefits in Belgium.
  • Fill out your maternity papers and get your maternity leave benefits in order! Ask your boss about what benefits/pay you get on maternity leave and if there are any documents you need to fill in. Most of the time you, and your OB/GYN need to sign a document to send away to your insurance company in order to start receiving maternity benefits.
  • Don’t forget the baby bonus! You (or your spouse, if they are working) are entitled to a “baby premium” – usually a little over 1000 euro! Simply ask your boss at work about how to apply for this – in most cases they will give you documents to take with you to your next OB/GYN meeting for your doctor to sign before you can apply. This usually is granted anytime after your SIXTH month of pregnancy and if offered to either the father or mother, depending on your work situations.
  • You may want to consider checking that you’re up to date on all your IDs. Your Belgian ID card will most definitely be needed in the hospital, but there may be an instance when you need your visa and passport too. You never know, so it’s best to have all those updated!
20 weeks / halfway there!!
20 weeks / halfway there!!

Now, my ultrasound experiences have been a little skewed because of how we started; originally we thought I was 13 weeks pregnant, so we went to our first ultrasound (which should normally be around 12 or 13 weeks.) I explain more in my FIRST TRIMESTER POST, but basically, we found out I was pregnant really early and it feels like I can’t remember a time I wasn’t pregnant.

Although I do remember the day I told my boyfriend…

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His first reaction to realizing he will be a father.

So, because our timeline got a little screwed up from the beginning, we have had more ultrasounds than most normally would. I personally see no issue with this (and neither does my boyfriend), but if you don’t feel comfortable having more ultrasounds, be sure to tell your OB/GYN you’d like to do as little as possible. Some women feel like ultrasounds could possibly harm or disturb the baby and because of that, they opt out of the ones that aren’t absolutely needed.

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28 Weeks!

A BREAK-DOWN OF OUR ULTRASOUNDS SO FAR…

9 WEEKS – first ultrasound, we thought I was actually 13 weeks based on my last menstrual cycle and the blood work from our general practitioner, but were told I was only 9 weeks along! As I said in our first trimester post, because I was only 9 weeks and not 13, she could not see the baby with a stomach doppler, so I ended up having a vaginal doppler scan (which was quite a shock to me!)


15 WEEKS – the 13 week ultrasound is when they can first tell the most about you baby, and because we’d already gone in week 9, we ended up having our 13 week ultrasound a little later, in week 15, because my OB/GYN was on vacation. We were able to find out at this ultrasound that we’re having a BOY!


20 WEEKS – this is one of the most important ultrasounds (and in many places, one of the only ultrasounds given), because most (if not all) of the baby’s organs are developed already! This is also (most of the time), the ultrasound the confirms the gender (even if your OB/GYN has had some clue of the baby’s gender, they usually wait until week 20 to tell you “for sure”! When we went for this ultrasound, my boyfriend wasn’t able to come with me due to a work commitment so I brought his mom (my mother in law) along with me. All the baby’s organs were great, but he was being a bit of a busy monkey in there and the OB/GYN couldn’t get a good enough look at his heart. It sounded great, and she caught a peak at it for a second and said it looked fine, but she wanted us to come back again BEFORE our 6 month ultrasound (week 27) just to make sure everything in his heart was okay on a day when he would hopefully be more cooperative.


24 WEEKS – this is another one that I wasn’t technically supposed to have, but our son was being a little less than cooperative in our 20 week appointment (as I said before) and our OB/GYN couldn’t get a good enough look at his heart. She assured us that there’s no need to be concerned, but that she needed to see a clear view of his heart before our 6 month ultrasound.


27 WEEKS – our 6 month ultrasound was the only that we were originally supposed to have in September, but because of our baby not letting the OB/GYN get a good look at his heart, we got TWO this month (which I am not complaining about because I just love seeing him!)

We went to this ultrasound right after my emergency/last minute flight to Canada and back – so it was really re-assuring to know everything with the baby was still okay. Even though my pregnancy is fairly low-risk and everything was absolutely fine during my trip, having an ultrasound right after an international flight really put my mind at ease (especially because I left so last minute I didn’t have time to check with my doctor before the flight.)

Our son at 24 weeks!
Our son at 24 weeks!

OTHER SECOND TRIMESTER MEETINGS

WEEK 24 – MEETING WITH THE MIDWIFE

During this important meeting with your midwife – you will be given the SUGAR TEST. Basically, they have you drink this very sugary drink within 5 minutes, then make you wait an hour (bring a book!), and draw your blood to see how your body/blood processes the sugar content of the drink.

My sugar drink! So sour!
My sugar drink! So sour!

During this appointment (after you drink the sticky glucose sugar drink), you will most likely be able to sign up for or get information on birthing sessions if you haven’t started them already.

In our case, we opted for English ones (which weren’t offered in a group setting but as a one-on-one with a midwife) because I felt more comfortable hearing this very important information in a language I COMPLETELY understood. We will start these classes in the third trimester (which I will also post about at the end of the pregnancy!)

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Travel Pray Love

Canadian travel & immigration blogger.

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