If it seems like your weight gain has slowed down, don’t worry. It is not uncommon for weight gain to occur in cycles during pregnancy and at week 23, many women report a period of reduced weight gain. Your baby will still be developing well.
So here you are, nearing the end of your second trimester. At this stage, many women are starting to experience symptoms that will continue for the duration of their pregnancy. Some of these may be a little challenging, but remember every day is a day closer to D(elivery) day! Some of the symptoms that start to appear, or increase in intensity, at around week 23 of pregnancy are:
- Linea Nigra. The ‘belly line’ forms. As the skin stretches across your growing abdomen, a dark line may form, running from your belly button to the top of the pubic region. This line is known as the linea nigra, or literally “dark line.” Like other skin discolourations, this is caused by the pregnancy hormone progesterone. It’s often more noticeable in darker-skinned women.
- Swelling. You might have already been experiencing swelling in your legs, feet, and ankles, but don’t be surprised if it gets worse. To help with swelling, elevate your legs and feet, exercise, reduce excess salt in your diet, wear support tights or stockings, lie on your left side, and stay hydrated!
- Mood fluctuations. This can occur at any time. It is true that the wildly fluctuating mood swings of the first trimester have now passed, but the pregnancy hormones that your body is producing will continue to cause irritability and moodiness at times. Always be gentle with yourself.
Around week 23, it is also common to feel a strong nesting instinct. It can suddenly seem imperative that you decorate the nursery, construct a birth plan and buy everything you will need for baby’s arrival. This is a totally normal feeling; it is nature’s way of encouraging expectant parents to prepare for the huge change that is coming along soon. Try not to panic or get overwhelmed, remember you do still have plenty of time to get things ready. If you do have excess energy, start thinking about some of the practical considerations:
- Are you planning to bank your cord blood? Do you know the pros and cons? Now is a great time to research it and make the decision.
- Do you have a will? Of course no one wants to think about the worst case scenarios, but now is a good time to make sure your paperwork is in place. Talk to a lawyer if necessary, and decide on who you want to nominate as guardians of your child in the event of anything happening to you and your partner.
- Consider opening a savings account for your child/children. It may seem too early to be putting aside a regular sum of money, but saving little and often over the years, could give your child a helping start when they go to University, or buy their first house. It is also a useful place for relatives to deposit money.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 21 weeks. Although babies do vary in size, by week 23 most are rapidly approaching 0.5 KG in weight, with a crown-to-rump length of about 23cm. Overall, your baby is about the size of a small grapefruit.
Don’t be surprised if you start to see the skin of your stomach stretching and moving as your baby repositions him- or herself. Your uterus is now about 25.5cm long and extends above your belly button. Although your baby still have room to move around, it is getting a little more compacted inside your uterus now, which is why you will be able to see your baby’s many acrobatics.
Now that a lot of the major developmental stages are complete, your baby will be putting on protective body fat and becoming increasingly aware of the various light and sound stimuli that he/she is exposed to. There is still some development work, for example, the capillaries in the lungs are developing in preparation for breathing.
“If you are suffering from irregular sleep, limit screen time (TV and phone) before bed and invest in a good body pillow, to help you get more comfortable.”
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