It’s week 22, and chances are, you’re no longer feeling blue. As you’re well into your second trimester, but not quite nearing your third, there’s a high chance that you’re feeling pretty good right now.
Have you felt those first flutters of your baby’s movements yet? If so, that will likely improve your mood even more.
While your pregnancy discomforts may have settled down for now, your uterus continues to grow and stretch to fit your growing baby. It now stretches to about 2 centimeters above your belly button.
Your baby now weighs almost 1 pound and is close to 11 inches in length. This is about the size of a spaghetti squash or papaya. Not only is your baby getting bigger, but they’ve undergone enough development to now resemble an infant.
Though your baby still has a lot of growing to do and will continue to put on more weight with each passing week, those ultrasound photos should start looking more like what you imagine a baby to look like.
Your baby’s eyes are also continuing to develop this week. The iris doesn’t yet contain any pigment, but all other visual parts are present, including eyelids and eyebrows.
At week 22, your babies measure about 7 1/2 inches from crown to rump. They each weigh a full pound. There are two important developments this week. They can now swallow, and they have a fine hair called lanugo covering most of their bodies. Lanugo helps hold the vernix caseosa on your babies’ skin. The vernix caseosa helps to protect your babies’ skin while in the womb.
Here’s hoping that this is an easy week for pregnancy symptoms! Many women feel good in the middle of the second trimester, but there are still some bothersome things that can appear. Symptoms you might experience during week 22 include:
The increased blood flow during pregnancy can contribute to varicose veins. These typically appear on your legs, but they can also appear on other body parts, such as the arms and torso. To help combat them, keep your feet up whenever you can. The elevation can help, and so can support stockings or socks.
Hemorrhoids, painful, swollen veins around your bottom, are another common complaint during pregnancy. Extra pressure on your anus from your growing uterus can contribute to hemorrhoid formation. Pregnancy hormones and straining can also lead to hemorrhoids.
Drinking lots of liquids and eating foods high in fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids. Aim for at least 8 to 10 glasses of water and 20 to 25 grams of dietary fiber a day. Exercise can also help.
Unless your doctor has limited your activities, try to fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day. Not only can exercise help you avoid hemorrhoids, but it can help you maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Avoid constipation. Eat high fiber foods and go when the urge first comes upon you. Delaying defecation can head to harder and more painful hemorrhoids.
If you do develop hemorrhoids, they typically resolve on their own. To help manage the pain associated with hemorrhoids, try soaking in a warm bath several times a day and avoid sitting for long periods of time. You can also speak with your healthcare provider about over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or medicated wipes.
If you develop hard and swollen external hemorrhoids that continue to bleed, you may have thrombosed hemorrhoids. If that is the case, see your doctor as you may need to have a minor surgical procedure to get rid of them.
Research childbirth classes
If this is your first pregnancy, a childbirth class could give you some much-needed education about what to expect during your delivery and beyond. What does labor feel like? How long does it typically last? And will I be able to handle the pain? What do I do with my baby once I bring it home? All of these topics and more will be addressed at a childbirth class.
These classes don’t just benefit moms-to-be, either. Bring along your partner and they’ll not only learn the basics of what you’ll be going through, but they may learn some relaxation techniques to help keep you confident and strong during labor and the early days of being a new parent.
Classes can fill up quickly, so you may want to schedule them now. Many hospitals offer generalized childbirth classes as well as more specialized ones, such as those related to infant CPR, breast-feeding basics, or even particular labor philosophies, such as the more natural Bradley method.
Hospitals may also offer a tour of their maternity or baby unit as part of their childbirth classes, which could help you feel more comfortable about your upcoming stay.
If you’re looking for classes outside of your local hospital, Lamaze International or The International Childbirth Education Association may be of some help. No matter where you look, schedule any classes before your 35th week to make sure you allow yourself time for early labor, should it happen.
A doula is professionally trained to assist a woman during childbirth and, sometimes, after childbirth. Doulas provide emotional, physical, and informational support.
If you decide to work with a doula, she typically won’t begin assisting you until a few months before your baby is due. If you’re interested in a postpartum doula, a doula that offers assistance after the baby has arrived, the doula won’t begin assisting you until after you’ve brought your baby home.
Because doulas offer support, finding one who is the right fit is extremely important. A labor doula will be with you during labor, and a postpartum doula will be with you during a time when you’re sleep deprived and adjusting to a lot of changes.
Not only do you want to have enough time to interview doulas, but you also want to make sure that the doula you want is available when you need her. Making arrangements early can help ensure that you’re able to hire your first choice.
If you're interested in working with a doula, speak with your healthcare provider. They may be able to provide you with a list of recommended doulas or other resources to help you find one. Referrals from friends are another great way to find a doula.
Plan a babymoon (pre-baby trip) with your partner
You’re probably feeling great and your bump is adorable, but not yet making it difficult to get around. However, your fatigue will likely return in the third trimester, and your bump will soon become big enough that just the thought of getting around may make you feel exhausted. Before your belly makes it difficult to do everyday tasks (like putting on your socks) and all you want to do is take a nap, you may want to plan a short trip with your partner.
Relaxing with your partner before your lives change to make room for a new family member can be a great way to reinforce the bond you share. If this isn’t your first child, consider a family trip to reinforce that a new baby won’t change the relationships that you or your partner have with your other child or children.
If you’ll be flying, commercial air travel is generally considered safe if you have a healthy pregnancy. You should still check with your doctor before getting on a plane. Some airlines also have policies around air travel while pregnant. Check with the airline as well.
While aboard a plane, stay hydrated and move around to promote circulation. You may want to consider an aisle seat to make it easier to get up as needed.
Call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, fever, severe abdominal or headache pain, or blurred vision. If you’re starting to feel what could be labor pains and you’re unsure whether they could be Braxton-Hicks contractions or the real thing, call your doctor for an expert opinion.