Welcome to Week 22! You are now past the halfway mark and becoming quite a pro at being pregnant! For most women, these are the easy weeks of pregnancy, when the difficult symptoms are minimal, your energy is good, and you can still get around and see your feet.
Have you noticed that every time you adjust to one pregnancy-related change or symptom, something else happens? Maybe by week 22, you are finally learning how to manage the discomfort of constant lower back pain, when your feet swell, or your legs cramp, or you start suffering from constipation. Pregnancy is certainly not a time of glamour!
For most of these symptoms, the best thing you can do is take good care of yourself. Drinking plenty of water and getting exercise can help with disrupted sleep, cramping, dizziness and constipation. Eating a well balanced, nutritious diet based on vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, can help with indigestion and heartburn; as can eating little and often.
Many women and their partners are concerned about the safety of intercourse during pregnancy, but for a lot of couples it is an unfounded worry. During a normal, healthy pregnancy there should be no reason to avoid intimacy, as long as both parties are happy to go ahead. Your baby is well protected and, as long as you limit the amount of direct weight placed on your growing belly, he or she will not be hurt.
However, if you have any of the following issues, your healthcare provider might recommend avoiding intercourse or limiting your activities:
- A history of miscarriage, early labour, or premature birth
- Vaginal bleeding that is more than spotting
- Cervical incompetence
- Placenta previa, or a misplaced placenta in the uterus
Also, remember that whilst you cannot get pregnant (for obvious reasons), you still can catch sexually transmitted diseases, some of which can be harmful to your baby. If you have any doubts at all, continue to use a barrier-type of birth control, such as a condom.
It is important to consider the emotional aspect of intercourse, as well as the physical. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently and responds to hormonal changes in her own way. Some women find that by week 22 their libido has increased significantly, others cannot bear the thought of physical contact at this stage in their pregnancy. There is nothing wrong with either of these scenarios, but it is important to communicate with your partner and, if necessary, look for other ways to experience closeness during your pregnancy.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 20 weeks. This is a big week in foetal development for many babies: they are approaching 0.5 KG in weight now and their crown-to-rump length is about 18cm. Your baby is about the size of a spaghetti squash.
Developmentally, the last few weeks have been intense. There has been substantial maturing of the large-scale organ systems, including the skeletal and nervous system, as well as continual development of smaller organs like the pancreas (which produces hormones) and the liver. Going forward, the major development will slow and smaller fine-tuning changes will start to occur. For example, from week 22 your baby’s eyelashes and eyebrows will start to fill in, and he or she will be growing thicker hair on top of their head. The fingerprints and fingernails will grow and become more permanent, and the sensory systems will continue to become more refined.
Your baby is still completely dependent on you, but he or she is really beginning to start checking and using their own equipment. The foetal bone marrow is rapidly producing red blood cells, while the liver is working to clear the bloodstream of dead blood cells (which will become one component of the meconium). The heart is now pumping gallons of blood a day and the intestinal tract is fully operational, even though it will be weeks until it’s needed.
“If genital herpes are present when you go into labour, you will need to deliver by Cesarean section to avoid passing it your baby.”
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