Pregnancy is a challenging time for the mother, her partner, and the growing fetus. Being a critical phase for the development, of the baby’s respiratory system and the prevalent risks of complexities from Gestational diabetes, the 24th week is one of the crucial time periods during pregnancy.
Development of mother’s body
The top of the uterus can be felt about 2 inches (5 cm) above the belly button and is about the size of a soccer ball. These symptoms are common during 24th week of pregnancy:
- The skin around abdomen and breasts might get dry and itchy since it is stretched.
- The eyes may feel more sensitive and dry.
- Slight heartburn or gastritis may be experienced.
Status of baby’s growth
The baby has a weight of about 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) and is about a foot (30 cm) tall: roughly the size of an ear of corn. The skin of the baby is translucent. The baby’s brain, facial muscles, and taste buds are still in the developmental phase.
This period is very crucial for the baby’s respiratory system since it goes through very drastic changes. The lungs develop branches of the respiratory tree and the cells that produce surfactant. Surfactant is a substance that assists the air sacs in inflating while in an external environment. Into 24 weeks of pregnancy, the issues such as unplanned pregnancies are left well behind and the couple are only looking forward to welcoming the baby to their world.
As we already said, the 24th week of pregnancy is an important time; if proper measures and actions are not taken during this period, it might be risky for both the mother and the baby, and can bring complications. Some of the risks are as follows:
Complexities due to Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a high blood sugar condition during pregnancy. Approximately 2-5% of women will develop Gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. The major symptoms of Gestational diabetes are:
- High sugar amount in urine
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
Untreated diabetes might be followed by following complications:
- Difficulties during vaginal delivery: Diabetes causes the baby to grow too large, mainly in its upper body which increases the risk of difficulties during delivery. In some cases, the delivery becomes so difficult that a cesarean section needs to be performed.
- Complications with the baby:The baby is under a risk of developing a disproportionate body with an unusually large upper body. It might also have other complications like low blood sugar after its birth.
Between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, the placenta produces large amounts of hormones that may cause insulin resistance, so it is recommended to check for and take actions against Gestational diabetes during this period.
Respiratory problems in the baby
This period is when the respiratory system of the baby undergoes drastic changes and the system is not yet strong enough to save itself from respiratory problems like pneumonia, asthma, respiratory tract infection, etc.
Excessive dryness and irritation in the mother
Dryness in the skin and the eyes of the mother is common during this time. If not taken proper care of, this can lead to long-term irritation and dryness in the eyes and the skin.
Tips to alleviate the risks
The following measures can be taken in order to avoid the probable risks and to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby during pregnancy at week 24:
Check for Gestational diabetes
It is recommended to run a Glucose Screening Test or Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) around the 24th week of pregnancy. In case of a positive GCT result, the mother will have to take another test called Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT)/ If the mother is diagnosed with diabetes, she should consult the doctor to avoid further complications.
Avoid respiratory hazards
The mother should avoid exposure to smoke, dust, cold, bacteria and other respiratory hazards because the developing respiratory system of the baby is prone to various kinds of respiratory diseases.
Use a hot sauna bath
A hot sauna bath helps in reducing pregnancy aches and helps the body muscles of the mother to relax. It also enhances natural growth hormone production which ensures proper growth and development of the baby. It is also known that spending time in a sauna results in a reduction in the insulin and blood glucose level, which can be used as a control measure against Gestational diabetes.
Yoga saunas are even better as they combine the benefits of yoga and the sauna. However, one should be careful not to spend too much time in the sauna and/or under higher temperature locations which may cause the body to overheat and even cause genetic abnormalities in the baby.
Featured photo credit: First Pregnancy photo session by Benjamin Magana via flickr.com