Welcome to Week 25! Up to now, it has been good fun to think about your baby’s size in relation to various foods; a lemon, a banana, a watermelon…. Having something tangible to compare your baby to, can make it easier to imagine their increasing size as the weeks pass. However, remember that all babies grow at their own pace, charting their own unique course. Therefore, whilst it is fun to guesstimate their size using fruit and vegetables, bear in mind that these are generalisations. Your healthcare provider will regularly track your baby’s growth, ensuring that it is following a consistent path and, as long as they are happy with the measurements, you can be confident that your baby is growing well.
Somewhere between week 24 and week 28, your healthcare provider might recommend that you undertake an oral glucose tolerance test. This test involves drinking a sugary drink and then having your blood sugar levels measured. High blood sugar levels can be a warning sign of gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, hormones disrupt the way your body uses insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps transport glucose from the blood into the body’s cells, where it is converted into energy. When your insulin does not work as well as it should, blood glucose levels can rise to dangerous levels, putting you and your baby at risk of health complications. Aside from pregnancy hormones, additional risk factors for gestational diabetes include being obese, being over the age of 35, carrying multiples, coming from India, the Middle East or South Asia, and a family/personal history of gestational diabetes or delivering large babies in prior pregnancies (over 4.3 KG).
It is estimated that gestational diabetes affects approximately 5% of pregnancies, however, some ethnicities have a much higher risk than this. If you come from a population considered to be high risk, the oral glucose tolerance test might be performed as a standard part of your prenatal care around week 25; in other regions, you will only be tested if you are considered to be high risk. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is very important to follow your doctor’s advice with regards to treatment and lifestyle changes to control blood sugar. Untreated gestational diabetes is linked to premature delivery, vision problems, increased risk of infections, an increased risk of Caesarean section and having a larger baby, as well as long-term health complications for your baby.
The good news is that many women with gestational diabetes manage to control it by adopting lifestyle changes and making dietary adjustments; avoiding the need for medication. If medication does become necessary, insulin injections may be required.
Other tests that might be performed at this stage of your pregnancy include:
- A haematocrit/haemoglobin test for anaemia.
- Rh antibody screening to determine if you need Rhesus immunoglobulin.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 23 weeks. At this stage, your baby is about 700g, with a crown-to-rump length of between 23 and 25cm. For those who are still enjoying the food comparisons, your baby will now be about the size of a large corn on the cob.
Your baby will be continuing to increase their protective fat stores and their hair, which, to date, has been white due to a lack of pigment, is starting to get some colour. Also around this time, the nostrils will be opening up, and your baby will start to “breathe” amniotic fluid through the nose.
Developmentally, you might have noticed that your baby is becoming more responsive to external stimuli. By week 25, he or she might react to your voice, to your partner’s voice, to particular types of music and sounds. You might notice increased activity after eating certain meals (but don’t worry, spicy food won’t hurt your baby).
“Testing for gestational diabetes can be stressful, but if you are high risk, the tests are worth doing so that if you do test positive, protective measures can be put in place immediately.”
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