Belly Diaries – Weeks 22 and 23

Your pregnancy: 22 weeks


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How your baby’s growing:

At 11 inches (the length of a spaghetti squash) and almost 1 pound, your baby is starting to look like a miniature newborn. His lips, eyelids, and eyebrows are becoming more distinct, and he’s even developing tiny tooth buds beneath his gums. His eyes have formed, but his irises (the colored part of the eye) still lack pigment. If you could see inside your womb, you’d be able to spot the fine hair (lanugo) that covers his body and the deep wrinkles on his skin, which he’ll sport until he adds a padding of fat to fill them in. Inside his belly, his pancreas — essential for the production of some important hormones — is developing steadily.

See what your baby looks like this week.

Note: Every baby develops a little differently — even in the womb. Our information is designed to give you a general idea of your baby’s development.

How your life’s changing:

At this point, you may find your belly becoming a hand magnet. It’s perfectly okay to tell folks who touch your tummy that you’d rather they didn’t. And if people are telling you that you look smaller or bigger than you should at this point, remember that each woman grows — and shows — at her own rate. What’s important is that you see your practitioner for regular visits so she can make sure your baby’s growth is on track.

You may start to notice stretch marks on your abdomen as it expands to accommodate your growing baby. At least half of all pregnant women will develop stretch marks by the time they give birth. These small streaks of differently textured skin can range from pink to dark brown (depending on your skin color). Although they most commonly appear on your tummy, stretch marks may also show up on your buttocks, thighs, hips, and breasts. There’s no proof that lotion helps prevent stretch marks, but keeping your skin moisturized may help with any itching.

Your pregnancy: 23 weeks


See the big picture

How your baby’s growing:

Turn on the radio and sway to the music. With her sense of movement well developed by now, your baby can feel you dance. And now that she’s more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound (about as much as a large mango), you may be able to see her squirm underneath your clothes. Blood vessels in her lungs are developing to prepare for breathing, and the sounds that your baby’s increasingly keen ears pick up are preparing her for entry into the outside world. Loud noises that become familiar now — such as your dog barking or the roar of the vacuum cleaner — probably won’t faze her when she hears them outside the womb.

See what your baby looks like this week.

Note: Every baby develops a little differently — even in the womb. Our information is designed to give you a general idea of your baby’s development.

How your life’s changing:

You may notice that your ankles and feet start to swell a bit in the coming weeks or months, especially at the end of the day or during the heat of summer. Sluggish circulation in your legs — coupled with changes in your blood chemistry that may cause some water retention — may result in swelling, also known as edema. Your body will get rid of the extra fluid after you have your baby, which is why you’ll pee frequently and sweat a lot for a few days after delivery. In the meantime, lie on your left side or put your feet up when you can, stretch out your legs when you sit, and avoid sitting — or standing — in one place for long periods. Also, try to exercise regularly to increase circulation, and wear support stockings (put them on first thing in the morning) and roomy, comfortable shoes. You may be tempted to skimp on liquids to combat swelling, but you need to drink plenty of water because staying hydrated actually helps prevent fluid retention. While a certain amount of edema in your lower extremities is normal during pregnancy, excessive swelling may be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia. Be sure to call your midwife or doctor if you have severe or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, more than slight swelling of your hands, swelling in your face, or puffiness around your eyes.

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