As you enter into week 23 of your pregnancy, you’ll notice that your baby is squirming more now, and kicking a little harder than last week. Your baby is practicing how to breathe and even grasping on to things! During this time, you may experience a new side effect of pregnancy; swelling. Read on to learn what to expect and how to alleviate this.
Your Baby this Week
Your baby is now around the size of a papaya.
She is really putting on the weight now. This week, she weighs in between 360 and 600 grammes (12 to 21 ounces), but she is probably just a little over a pound. If you were to measure your baby this week, she would probably be about 28cm (11½ inches) in length.
Tiny blood vessels in your baby’s lungs are developing daily in preparation for breathing. In fact, your baby will actually practice breathing in the womb by inhaling and exhaling small amounts of the amniotic fluid. Her pancreas is regularly producing insulin which will regulate the levels of sugar in her blood, and all the bones in her body are continuing to harden.
Your baby’s activity level is probably increasing now since she has the ability to hear things from the outside world. A door slamming, a dog barking, a horn sounding, and the sound of you and your family’s voices will soon become all too familiar to your little doll. For now, sudden loud noises may make her jump as if she were frightened. Not to worry though. At this stage, your little one does not understand the concept of being frightened; it is more of a reflex on her part.
As the smaller muscles in the fingers and hands become more developed in week 23, your baby is using them to grab and touch different parts of her body. She can grasp her umbilical cord, her ear, her nose, and may even grab hold of her other hand. She can also wiggle her fingers individually now as well as scrunch up her toes.
Your Body this Week
As your pregnancy rapidly progresses, you could start to have some swelling in your ankles and your feet. Swelling is more likely to occur when the weather is warm, after you have been on your feet for long periods of time, or at the end of the day. Circulation is slower now that you have gained weight, and your blood chemistry has changed. This leads to water retention, or edema. After you have your baby, your body will naturally shed the extra fluid as your blood chemistry returns to its pre-pregnancy state. In fact, you may notice that the first few days after delivery, you will sweat a lot and have to urinate frequently. If you are starting to experience swelling in your feet and ankles, make sure to elevate your legs when you can and lie on your left side to increase circulation. And don’t forget to drink lots of fluids. Many women will avoid fluids when they experience swelling thinking that this will help reduce edema. This is not the case. Your body must stay hydrated to prevent edema. Wearing support hose or socks and having some sort of daily exercise is also necessary to prevent the swelling from getting worse.
While swelling is a common occurrence, especially in the later months of a pregnancy; if you have excessive swelling, it could be an indication of a serious condition called preeclampsia. The typical symptoms of preeclampsia include sudden swelling or severe swelling of the ankles and feet, swelling in the hands, face, and puffy eyes. High blood pressure accompanies preeclampsia as well and can be extremely dangerous to mum and baby if left untreated. Make sure to tell your doctor about any swelling that you are experiencing. It’s more than likely normal but your doctor should be made aware of it.