Now that you’ve reached the 22nd week of your pregnancy, your little bump with have grown to quite some size, and you should have adjusted somewhat to pregnant life. Of course, it can be hard to truly settle into pregnancy, with plenty of new changes appearing, and that belly growing constantly bigger. However, hopefully by now you will have a stronger understanding of the adventure you’re undertaking, and will have grown stronger when dealing with the challenges you face on the way.
Where are we up to?
In terms of landmarks, you should still be gaining about one pound per week, depending on your usual body mass index. Nobody likes to keep getting bigger, but you can take advantage of this opportunity and relax with your bump. Why not take some time in the bath or while moisturizing your tummy to really feel the movements of your baby? You can really start to get to know their movements at this stage.
Also, your doctor will have probably started checking how much your uterus is growing by at your check ups. The fundal measurement is the length between the top of your uterus and your pubic bone, and it is probably between 20 and 24 cm at this stage.
Some unfortunate new additions will be stretch marks, and maybe a mysterious dark line down your stomach. There’s nothing to be done about these, so you may as well wear them as a badge of honor, and a sign of how far you’ve come.
By going through the changes both you and your baby are experiences, let’s take a look at what’s going on now that you’ve passed the halfway mark.
At 22 weeks, your baby has grown considerably. You’ve got the bump to prove it, but in case you weren’t sure, your child is now about the same size as a papaya. That’s approximately 11 inches long, and almost one pound in weight. The 15.7 ounces is about the same as five tangerines, which may not seem like a lot, but it’s much more than the kiwi fruit at the start of this trimester.
As well as growing in size, the baby has also developed some physical features. To start with something sweet, the lips and eyelids of your child have started to become more prominent. This is another indicator that the face you’ll come to know is taking shape and becoming more distinctive.
Not only this, but the hair is continuing to grow too, and at this point the child should have started to form eyebrows! It can feel strange to think eyebrows are starting to grow so soon, and the beginning of fingernails is even stranger. These should be okay for now, but by the time the baby is born they might be pretty sharp.
More importantly, lungs have started to develop in the baby’s chest. This means your child can practice breathing, and will be doing so in the uterus, in preparation for entering the world. They also have stronger limbs. This means that their little arms and legs will be able to grab now, and that’s an urge they’ll have in your tummy. They might start to cling on to the umbilical cord or hold their face while in your uterus.
Their taste buds are developing too, so make sure you are watching what you eat. The last thing anybody wants is for their child to be addicted to fast food before they are even born. Cravings are perfectly natural, but the healthier you eat, the healthier your baby will eat. As well as this, you shouldn’t be ‘eating for two’ until the third trimester, as your baby doesn’t need the extra calories yet. Overall, it’s a good idea to try to stay healthy as much as you can.
To keep them from getting an appetite, the baby is swallowing your amniotic fluid, which contains nutrients and water which they will need to keep growing. This will then stay in the bowels until after their birth, where it will be released as meconium. Essentially, this is your child’s first poo.
Your Growing Body
As always, as well as your baby growing and developing, your body has done too. Throughout your second trimester, you will have hopefully enjoyed some more stability than you had at the start of your pregnancy, and you will be able to get out and enjoy your life as usual. Unfortunately, some more uncomfortable and irritating changes may now be happening to put you off your game, but just relax and remember it’s all temporary.
Firstly, back pain is quite common at this point in a pregnancy. As your tummy has been growing more and more, your center of gravity keeps changing, throwing your balance and causing a considerable amount of back pain when moving around. This is why you see so many pregnant women with their hands on their lower back. The best thing you can do is to sit up straight and maintain your posture as well as you can. Also, keeping active and exercising is a great way of reducing back pain.
You will also notice your feet seeming swollen and larger. This is a strange thing to happen all of a sudden, but it makes a lot of sense. The loosened joints in your feet have allowed them to grow, and the extra weight on them might help make them wider. The simple answer to this is to get bigger shoes. Like a child ‘growing into’ their new clothes, try to buy some comfortable, wide shoes with plenty of arch support so that you can stay comfortable if they change further.
One more painful and irritating issue that often arises is piles. Piles (or hemorrhoids) are parts around the anus which swell up and cause great discomfort when sitting down. One of the nasty side effects of your pregnancy hormones is an increased risk of getting piles. They are easy to deal with, and you can find comfort in using moist toilet paper or keeping a cold cloth in that region.
Some bizarre physical changes are common at this point too. Strangest of all is the belly button. If you have lived your life with what is known as an ‘innie’ belly button, you might find that as your tummy expands it starts to stick out and become an ‘outie’. Essentially, this is a result of your uterus getting bigger, and it will return to normal after the pregnancy.
You may also start to leak from your breasts as you lactate. This is your body preparing for motherhood, which is lovely, but maybe you should get some pads to stop it ruining your clothes. The other physical signs are stretch marks. Try some moisturizer or oil to rub around your bump to keep them to a minimum, and to give yourself a relaxing massage in the process. Really, stretch marks are inevitable, so its not worth being stressed over.
If your doctor starts checking your blood pressure more frequently, this is normal and you shouldn’t be alarmed. Blood pressure can often get higher at this point in a pregnancy and needs to be checked in case it leads to problems such as pre-eclampsia.
Now that we’ve covered the changes your body and baby will be going through, it is nice to think about the other things you can be doing to help make pregnant life easier, and prepare for what comes next. Plenty of activities should be kept up throughout the pregnancy for your well-being, such as exercise and time to relax, but there are a few other tasks that are good to get on with at this stage.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to start talking to your employer and colleagues about your pregnancy. There is still time before you have to, but it will be a big weight off your shoulders if you can begin to make plans for maternity leave. Your colleagues will appreciate it too.
Maybe try to purchase a maternity belt and some comfortable shoes too, to relieve spinal pressure and support your swollen feet. You can also look for antenatal classes if you haven’t found one. These are very helpful and tend to get busy quickly.