Week 23 of pregnancy is well over half-way! Congratulations on surviving the first big phase of parenting. This week marks the beginning of some serious weight gain for the baby (and maybe for you too! That’s okay!), and the reality of your precious little baby is becoming more and more present.
Changes with Baby
Your baby is now approximately 8 inches long and weighs just over a pound. About the size of a mango! This week begins a serious growth spurt and your baby will just about double in size in the next four weeks. That is some serious weight gain-but don’t worry mama, your body can handle it. Your babies skin is a little saggy right now because their skin grows faster than their fat does. But they will soon fill out and be a cute plump and full little baby by the time they are born. Right now your babies skin has a reddish hue because of the developing arteries and veins underneath the surface. You can see your baby’s vital organs through her skin because it is so thin at this point, but that will go away as your baby fattens up.
Your baby is big enough now to hear her heart beat through a stethescope! You’ve probably heard it through a Doppler machine, but now that your baby has grown, it’s easy to hear that beautiful little rhythmic flutter that will make your own heart melt.
Your babies limbs are longer and stronger now and you will probably be able to see baby moving and grooving underneath your shirt. So turn on some music and dance along with your babies movements! Sounds like music, your partner’s voice, and your dog barking will all be familiar sounds to your baby by the time they are born.
Changes with You
By pregnancy week 23 every square inch of your body is probably feeling the effects of your pregnancy. Your baby may be cuddled up cozily in your abdomen, but your entire body is pregnant. Your mind is probably fuzzy from the waves of progesterone washing over your brain. Ever lose your keys and find them in the freezer? This is called “pregnancy brain”. Once the baby comes you will be so tired that you will be living with Mommy Brain. Basically, expect to never remember where your keys are. But it’s worth it.
Your feet and ankles may swollen by this point, and your ankles will almost certainly begin to swell at night after a long day or in the summer heat. Blood circulation changes and water retention can account for these changes. This water retention is called edema. Your body will flush out all of your excess water once you have the baby. Expect to sweat and pee a lot during this first few days post-delivery!
Another big change with your body might be the new arrival of a dark, inexplicable line down the middle of your belly. This line, called the linea nigra, is a super common symptom of pregnancy. Women with darker skin are more likely to see this change. This line is caused by the same pregnancy hormones that cause the darkening of your areolas and freckles. Some women also experience a darkening of the skin on their faces. Not to fear-these changes won’t last forever! A few weeks after you deliver the baby your skin will go back to it’s normal coloration.
What do to this week
This week is a great time to begin taking your labor plans seriously. I’m not saying your should expect to go into labor soon, but thinking about it and preparing is an important part of the process. Visualizing what you want and processing your expectations for your labor and delivery take some time. Begin now by simply practicing relaxation techniques. Whether you intend to labor and deliver naturally or not, odds are you will experience a fair few contractions. I don’t know any women who would consider contractions to be a relaxing experience, so it’s a good idea to have some techniques up your sleeve to help you relax through the pain.
Simple breathing exercises are a great place to start. Not only will this help you prepare for labor, but it will also have positive benefits for you during your pregnancy too. Stress hormones aren’t good for you or the baby. When you feel the normal anxieties associated with bringing a new little human into the world, take a minute and breathe. Try breathing in through your nose for 8 counts and out through your mouth for 8 counts. Repeat this cycle five times. You should feel your heart rate reduce, your mind clear a bit and your thoughts come back under control. This trick will help you through those shocking early contractions as well!
Some more tips for this week
- Keep drinking water! Staying hydrated is so important for the development of the baby and your own health. Your body is working hard. Give it what it needs!
- Look into your insurance policy and make sure you complete all of the necessary paperwork for when baby arrives. If you haven’t do this already, it is extremely important to begin this conversation!
- Contact HR if you’re working and begin planning for your maternity leave.
- Don’t forget about paternity leave! Have your partner communicate with their place of work and see what their options are for time off when the baby comes.
- Keep breathing! You’re getting there!
Featured photo credit: Kelly Hunter via flickr.com