Week 21

Your baby’s blood circulation is completely functional. The umbilical cord system continues to grow and thicken as blood travels with considerable force through the body to nurture the baby. The placenta is now almost equal in size to the baby.

Your baby will be getting much larger during the second half of your pregnancy. Your baby’s crown-to-rump length at this time is 7.2 inches and she weighs approximately 10.5 ounces. Your growing baby is about the size of a large banana. You should be able to feel your uterus about a half of an inch above your navel. Your weight gain so far will be around 10 to 15 pounds.

As your baby begins to lay down more fat, your weight will also increase. During the next 10 weeks, you will gain about half of the total gain for your entire pregnancy. Strangers can now tell that you are pregnant! You might notice an increase in appetite because you need 500 more calories a day to support your charged up metabolism. It is best to avoid processed foods or foods high in fat, calories or sugar. Some women also get strong cravings for foods. If you notice a craving for something unhealthy, you should contact your doctor. Cravings unusal things is known as pica. Some women crave cigarette ashes, charcoal, beer and other non-food items during this time.

Your baby’s different organs and systems are maturing. The fetal digestive system is functioning in a simple way and your baby can swallow amniotic fluid. After your baby swallows the amniotic fluid, she is able to absorb water and sugars from the fluid and then the waste is passed as far as the large bowel. Your baby swallows the amniotic fluid in order to prepare itslef for life outside of the womb. Some babies consume as much as 17 ounces of amniotic fluid in a 24-hour period. Your baby already has a high number of red blood cells and the white blood cells are begining to be produced. Taste buds are being formed on your baby’s tongue this week also.

Don’t be surprised if your legs and feet become swollen throughout the day. You should try to get off of your feet some throughout the day and prop your legs up. If you notice a substantial amount of swelling, you should contact your healthcare provider for evaluation.

Week 22

Your baby’s crown-to-rump length is approximately 7.6 inches and your growing baby weighs about 12.25 ounces now! Your uterus is about 2 cm above your bellybutton and you probably feel comfortably pregnant. Your growing tummy is not yet large enough to get in the way and you should still be able to bend over and sit without much trouble. You might be enjoying your pregnancy more than ever at this point if morning sickness was an issue in the early weeks.

Your baby’s body continues to grow and develop every day. The organ systems in your baby’s body are becoming specialized for their particular functions. The fetal liver produces different enzymes than it will produce after delivery. The liver is responsible for breaking down billirubin, which is produced by the breaking down of blood cells. Because the life span of a fetal red blood cell is shorter than that of an adult, a fetus produces more billirubin than adults do. Billirubin passes from fetal blood to the placenta and then into your blood. Your liver helps get rid of fetal billirubin. A newborn baby that has high levels of billirubin may show signs of jaundice. Jaundiced babies have a yellowish tint to their eyes and skin and are often treated with phototherapy.

Your baby’s senses are developing daily. The fetus now has a full complement of neurons in the brain and is learning about her body and surroundings through touch. Touch is one of the first senses to mature and your baby may stroke its face or feel her arms and legs.

Your blood volume has increased more to meet the demands of your pregnancy. Most of the increase is in the form of plasma, the liquid part of your blood. This has the ability to dilute your blood and give you physiological anemia, which occurs during pregnancy. The measure of blood dilution is called hematocrit and the levels reach their lowest points this week. You should check with your doctor to make sure you are not developing more serious forms of anemia.

Your baby now shows an extremely rapid brain growth (which lasts until five years after birth).

The ovaries of female fetuses contain primitive egg cells, all of the eggs a woman will have for her entire life. The uterus of female fetuses is also fully formed.

Week 23

This week your baby’s length, from crown-to-rump, is approximately 8 inches! Your growing baby has finally reached one pound. Your baby is about the size of a small baby doll and looks very human. The baby’s face and body look similar to that of a newborn at this time. Your uterus can be found about 1.5 inches above your navel. Your total weight gain should be approximately 15 pounds at this time.

You might notice some Braxton-Hicks contractions around this time. These contractions are not regular and they should not be painful. Braxton-Hicks contractions prepare your body for the upcoming labor and they will get stronger as your pregnancy progresses. You might be able to feel the contractions if you put your hand on your abdomen and your baby can probably feel the uterus gripping and massaging her. It will not harm your baby, so there is no need for concern.

Fat is still being deposited at a rapid rate, but your baby still looks red and wrinkled. Skin is being produced at a higher rate than the fat is, so the skin hangs loosely. Your baby looks red because the skin is losing its transparency and pigment is beginning to form. You should be feeling your baby moving quite a bit throughout the day as she will kick and punch the uterus walls. Babies also run their hands along the umbilical cord and touch their body parts while they are in the womb. Your baby now can suck her thumb for real, where she was just sticking it in her mouth. Your baby will continue to swallow amniotic fluid and recycle it as urine. The liquids and sugars that the baby retracts from the fluid is a supplement to the nutrients that the placenta delivers. You might be able to feel small `jumps` inside of you when your baby gets the hiccups from swallowing fluid. The pancreas is developing and it will responsible for insulin production, to help break down sugars.

Oily fish in your diet could help boost your baby’s health. (Women who eat oily fish while pregnant have children with better visual development, a major study at Bristol University suggests.)

As the baby continues to grow, it has less space to move around in the uterus. Bones, muscles and organs are growing steadily.

Week 24

This week your baby’s crown-to-rump length is 8.4 inches and your baby will weigh 1.2 pounds. Although it weighs a little over a pound at this point, your growing baby is still tiny. Your uterus can easily be felt 1.5 to 2 inches above your bellybutton. The fetus does not appear to have much room in the uterus anymore, but as your pregnancy progresses, space gets much tighter!

Because your uterus is expanding and putting a great amount of pressure on your abdomen, you might get stretch marks. Your weight gain may also be taking a toll on your body at this point. Many pregnant women experience backaches, bladder problems, sore feet and fatigue that affect their daily routines. You might also have some nasal stuffiness or nosebleeds.

Your baby’s face is basically complete now. The fetus’s eyes are close together on the front of his face and they are still shut. Your baby’s ears have moved into their final position on the sides of his head. Where they are now is where they will be when your baby is born! Hair will continue to grow on his scalp and his eyelashes are well developed. Most of your baby’s features look the same as they will at birth. Because your growing baby is getting plumper, he no longer has room in your tummy to do cartwheels and somersaults.

Now is a good time to ask about prenatal classes being offered in your area. Many local hospitals offer classes for expectant women and their families. You should aim to complete the classes approximately one month before your due date.

You may sometimes get a stitch-like pain in your side from time to time. It’s simply the muscles of the uterus stretching.
the unborn child is covered with a fine, downy hair called lanugo. Its tender skin is protected by a waxy substance called vernix. Some of this substance may still be on the child’s skin at birth at which time it will be quickly absorbed.

The child practices breathing by inhaling (up to a liter/day) amnionic fluid into developing lungs.

Week 25

Your baby’s crown-to-rump length is about 8.8 inches. Weight has increased to 1.5 pounds and fat is still being deposited at a high rate. Babies come in all shapes and sizes, so your baby could vary slightly from these `average` measurements. Your uterus has grown quite a bit bigger this week. The top of your uterus is between your bellybutton and your sternum. Your uterus is about the size of a soccer ball now!

If your baby were delivered at this time, it would have a good chance of surviving. It is best for your baby to remain inside of you for the remainder of the pregnancy, but great advances have been made in the care of a premature baby. Ventilators, monitors and medications all help premature babies develop and grow outside of the womb. If your baby were born this early, he would probably have to spend several months in the hospital and would be more susceptible to infections and other complications.

You can hear your baby’s heartbeat with both a doppler and a stethoscope at this time, and your partner may even be able to hear the heartbeat unaided if he puts his ear in the right position. Sex differentiation is being completed now. If you are expecting a baby boy, the testes start to descend into the scrotum. In baby girls, the vagina is hollowing out. Your baby is able to do more with their fingers now and can move his fingers to make a complete fist. As your baby becomes more dextrous, he will be able to touch and hold his feet. Babies also begin to prefer their left hand or right hand at this time. Because babies settle into routines of sleep and activity, you might begin to notice these patterns as well. Some women experience the most fetal movements while they are trying to rest.

Week 26

By this week, your baby’s crown-to-rump length is 9.2 inches. Remember, that is only from the top of his head to his bottom and does not include his leg measurements! Your baby weighs almost 2 pounds and is beginning to put on weight. Your uterus is about 2.5 inches above your bellybutton and you will continue to grow approximately 1 cm each week. If you have been eating a well-balanced diet, you probably have gained about 16-22 pounds so far. Because your baby has moved further up, you may get occasional pain underneath your ribs.

After a month of having his eyelids sealed shut, your baby begins to open his eyes again this week. Your baby’s eyes are almost completely developed. Your baby’s eyes are blue in the womb and may change colors later in life. This is true for all races because the pupils do not have their final color until a few months after birth. However, some babies are born with darker or lighter shades of blue. Your growing baby will continue to put on layers of fat until he is born. He is still lean at this point of the pregnancy though. By the time your baby is born, he will assume the typical newborn’s plumpness. Your baby’s skin will still be wrinkled and red, but the fat continues to fill the skin out.

Finger and toe nails continue to grow.

Blood vessels start to develop in the lungs to prepare the baby for life outside the uterus.

Your baby’s blood circulation is completely functional. The umbilical cord system continues to grow and thicken as blood travels with considerable force through the body to nurture the baby. The placenta is now almost equal in size to the baby.

Even though it is still way too soon for your baby to be born yet, the chance of survival without severe abnormalities is now 70% provided it is born in a hospital.

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