Your baby will now be around a foot long, the size of an ear of corn, and weigh about 600g.
Although you don’t want your baby to enter the world just yet, it is reassuring to know that if you went into labour at 24 weeks, she would have a chance of survival. Babies born this early would need specialist care and support in order to survive though. The good news is that improved neonatal care in recent times has meant that the long term health effects on premature babies are much less than they once were.
This week, the blood vessels around the lungs are developing so she can pick up oxygen the lungs have brought and deliver it all around the body.
Her brain is maturing rapidly at this stage of pregnancy, and her brainwaves would already look similar to those she will have at full term. The brain cells that will allow her to have conscious thought are developing now, which means she can do skilful things such as remember your voice and feel soothed by it.
From 24 weeks, your baby’s face will make more obvious expressions. These movements are the building blocks for her one day to be able to show her emotions – smiling, laughing, and frowning among others.
Your baby’s sucking skills are very good but not yet advanced enough for her to be able to breastfeed. By week 35 though, she’ll be ready and able to do this.
Pregnancy hormones have a lot to answer for, as we have already seen in previous weeks! They produce more mucus in pregnancy so you might find yourself with a stuffy nose, sinusitis, and headaches. Keep hydrated and get plenty of rest. Paracetamol is about the only painkiller you can take when you are pregnant so speak to your doctor if you are suffering with continual headaches or migraines.
If you haven’t yet thought about what essential items you might need for your baby, you might want to use some time now to think ahead. She won’t need much to start with – a cot or Moses basket, a sturdy changing area and mat, and let’s not forget clothes and a travel system.
You may notice what look like small spots on your areolas. These are called Montgomery’s Tubercles and they secrete a lubricant which helps to nourish your nipples and keep them supple. Try to avoid touching these spots as they are there to do a job and aren’t harmful.
Around week 24, you may be sent for a glucose screening test – also known as a glucose challenge test – to check for gestational diabetes: a high blood sugar condition that can affect pregnant women. This is generally done somewhere between the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy.
From week 21 to week 26, your uterus is rising up above your belly button. The uterus is attached to the round ligament which is joined to the wall of your abdomen. You might find you get stretching pains down the sides of your abdomen as these ligaments are pulled like they’ve never been pulled before.
Have you thought about sorting your parental leave? Shared leave is now available for those that meet the criteria, read more about it here.