You’re well past the halfway point in your pregnancy. That’s a big milestone!
Celebrate by putting your feet up, because this is also a time when you and your baby are going through some major changes. Among them is the rapid growth of your uterus. You can probably feel the top of it just a couple of inches from your belly button.
Chances are, you’re noticeably pregnant by now. It’s likely that you're experiencing some new symptoms as well.
Even though your delivery date is still four months away, your body is going through some “dress rehearsals” for the baby’s arrival.
For example, your breasts may soon start producing small amounts of early milk, called colostrum. This may continue on and off for the remainder of your pregnancy. Some women don’t produce any colostrum until after the delivery, so don’t be concerned if it isn’t happening.
If you have any questions about colostrum, be sure to ask your healthcare provider. Don't express breastmilk, as this can cause contractions and labor.
Many women start to experience occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions (false labor) around this time. You can think of these as practice contractions for the real labor and delivery. They are usually painless, though you may feel a squeezing sensation of the uterus.
If those contractions are painful or are increasing in frequency, however, contact your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of preterm labor.
Your baby is about 10 to 12 inches long, and at 24 weeks, the average baby weighs more than a pound.
At this time, the baby’s brain is developing fast. The same is true for the lungs and the cells that produce surfactant in the lungs. Surfactant is a substance composed of fats and lipids. It helps stabilize the tiny air sacs in the lungs that are essential to healthy breathing.
Your baby is also developing taste buds, as well as eyelashes and eyebrows.
Your babies are 8 inches long. They weigh an impressive 1 1/2 pounds. Taste buds are forming on their tongues. Their fingerprints and footprints will also be complete soon.
Pregnancy symptoms are usually lighter in the second trimester, but there are still some unpleasant aches and pains you may experience. During week 24, your symptoms may include:
- stretch marks
- itchy skin
- dry or itchy eyes
- slight breast colostrum production
- occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions
With your changing shape and new center of balance, plus the additional pressure your growing uterus is putting on your body, backaches are quite common during pregnancy. If your back pain is severe, speak with you doctor, who may be able to refer you to a specialist.
You may also want to look into prenatal massages. Many spas offer prenatal massages, which are provided by masseuses that are specially trained in massaging pregnant women. Be sure to mention your due date when you book your appointment.
You can also do a few things to reduce the number of backaches. Get into the habit of bending your knees and keeping your back straight when you lift something, and don’t pick up anything too heavy.
Sit up straight and use a pillow or pad to support your lower back if that feels better. If you work at a desk, make sure your work surface is high enough so that you’re not hunched over.
Unfortunately, constipation is a symptom that may continue to plague you throughout your entire pregnancy. Be sure to include fiber-rich foods in your diet, drink plenty of liquids, and, if approved by your doctor, exercise for 30 minutes a day. These simple lifestyle changes can help to relieve constipation.
If your constipation is severe, speak with you healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend a stool softener that is safe for pregnancy. While the iron in prenatal vitamins can be constipating, do not discontinue your prenatal vitamins without consulting your healthcare provider.
As you get a little bigger every day, the skin on your breasts and belly is stretching out. Not every woman gets stretch marks during pregnancy, and often the stretch marks become less noticeable with time. You may start to see faint lines developing around this time, though.
Your skin may also become itchy. Have a gentle moisturizer on hand to help with the itchiness. Your eyes may also start to feel dry and itchy. Artificial tears can help alleviate some of your eye discomfort.
Things to do
Now that you’re likely past the nausea and morning sickness phase of pregnancy, your appetite may be growing steadily.
With all that development going on with your baby, it’s especially important to make sure you’re eating a nutritious diet. Some of the most important nutrients for you and your baby include iron, folate (a B vitamin), calcium, vitamin D, protein, and vitamin C.
Your doctor may schedule a glucose test for you for this week. This is to screen for gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes nearly always disappears after the baby is born. It develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to metabolize sugar in the bloodstream.
A simple blood test can help diagnose gestational diabetes. Symptoms of gestational diabetes include high levels of sugar in your urine (as determined by a urine test at your doctor’s office), unusual thirst, and frequent urination.
Fewer than 10 percent of expectant moms develop gestational diabetes. If you do have it, remember that it’s treatable and most often temporary.
Call your doctor
Frequent or severe pain of any kind in the abdomen or pelvic region should trigger a call to your doctor. The same is true for bleeding or spotting, leakage of clear fluid, or if you haven’t felt your baby move for a while. You probably started feeling the baby’s movement within the past few weeks, so if you notice less activity, alert your healthcare provider.
If you do go into premature labor or the baby has to be delivered now, the odds of the baby’s survival are around 50 percent. Those odds improve steadily, so that by 32 weeks, babies have a very strong likelihood of survival.
Each new ache, pain, or unusual sensation can be a little stressful. Call your doctor’s office if you ever feel concerned. Sometimes a few reassuring words from a nurse can help. And if something is telling you that you or the baby need an exam, follow your budding maternal instincts.