If your 22nd week found you rejoicing that you finally look pregnant, your 23rd week might have you wondering how the skin across your abdomen can possibly stretch any more than it already has. Be prepared to have the same conversation with yourself (and anyone else who will listen) in weeks 24 through 40. Amazingly enough, you'll find that it can always stretch just a little more.
Like that magic skin on your belly, the rest of your body is capable of more than you ever thought possible, too. Here are some of the things you might be feeling, thinking about and wishing your partner knew as you head into week 23 of your pregnancy.
What You Might Be Feeling
Stuffy-headed -- Even if you've never snored in your life up until now, you may find yourself waking with swollen nasal passages and a dry throat. During your waking hours, you feel as though you need to blow your nose, only to find that the stuffiness is there to stay. The inside of your nose is swelling just like every other part of your body, and while there's not too much you can do about it, running a humidifier at night can help a little, as can drinking plenty of water.
Crampy -- But now it's likely to be in your legs and feet, not your uterus. If sudden "Charlie horse" pains are keeping you awake at night, be sure to take your prenatal vitamins and get plenty of potassium and calcium in your diet. It may also help to -- you guessed it -- drink plenty of water. That stuff is good for everything!
Sleepless -- You have to pee every 45 minutes, you wish you could sleep on your back (or your front!) but you can't, and your mind is spinning with all the things you feel like you need to do in the next three months. Try taking a few deep breaths, or maybe unwinding with a warm bath or a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime. (You might want to check with your doctor first to make sure he or she gives the green light to any teas or other herbal remedies.) Sleep with a pillow between your legs (and tucked slightly under your stomach) if it makes you more comfortable. If the oversized body pillow you bought in week four now makes you feel like you're crowding into bed with an extra person, any ordinary pillow should do the trick.
Your discomfort on the outside will come as no surprise when you consider all the changes going on inside your body…
What's Going on in Your Body
Your baby is around 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) long and weighs nearly 1 pound (453.6 grams) this week. He or she likes to practice sucking (either by sucking a thumb or just making the motion with his or her lips) and other reflex movements needed to survive after birth.
It may feel like there's a popcorn machine in your uterus this week, but it's just an energetic baby testing out of all his or her new parts. Typically this happens just as you lie down to go to sleep at night. (Remember last week, when you were wishing you would feel the baby move around some more?)
Your baby's eyelids work, and he or she can now differentiate between light and dark. Her fingernails and toenails are growing and may be long enough to reach the tips of her fingers and toes.
The baby is still covered in that waxy white stuff called vernix caseosa, and he or she also has eyelashes and might even have some hair on his or her head!
In fact, if you were to have a 4D ultrasound this week, you just might be able to start arguing over whether the little bundle of joy looks like you or your partner.
What Your Partner Should Know
These middle weeks of the pregnancy can be trying for our partners, too. While they obviously don't experience the physical symptoms and bizarre side effects of pregnancy, they may share your worry and anxiety about the birth or adjusting to parenting, and they may also wonder how best to support you. Here are some pointers for partners to keep in mind this week:
She may feel fabulous one minute and lousy the next. Don't be afraid to ask what she needs -- and try not to get too frustrated if she seems annoyed by the question or has a different request every three minutes. Intellectually, we understand that billions of women have given birth before us, but when you're the one who's pregnant, it's easy to feel like you're the only person who has ever experienced this level of excitement, exhaustion and itchiness.
You can't take on the physical burdens for her, but you may be able to take some weight off her mind by taking the lead on any number of little things that remain to be done before the baby is born. Can you research pediatricians? Register for baby gifts? Schedule childbirth classes? (If you haven't already, now's the time!)
If you're hoping or planning to take paternity leave, be sure to discuss your options with your boss or your human resources department. Many companies now offer this benefit, and even if it's not specifically provided, you may be able to use personal time or vacation days if you plan ahead.
Of course, just when you think you've got a handle on this week's set of challenges, we come along with a list of some more things for you and your partner to think about.
Some Things to Consider
If you currently work, you'll want to make sure you've talked to your employer about maternity leave and any changes to your work duties or work schedule as your due date approaches.
If you're planning to return to work after the baby is born, you'll also need to make a plan for daycare or other childcare arrangements if you haven't already.
You're probably thinking a lot about all the things you'll need when the baby arrives. If you register for baby gifts, you'll be amazed at the sheer number and range of "necessities" involved in caring for a tiny creature that isn't even mobile for the first six or so months. If you can, talk to a level-headed friend who's raised a baby or two. Yes, there are lots of things you really do need, but there's also plenty of "must-have" gear that you (and your baby) will do just fine without.
Which brings us to a whole slew of other things you can stop worrying about this week.
Don't Worry If ...
You might feel like you should have this pregnancy thing down pat after 23 weeks, but with every new development comes a new set of questions. We probably can't set all your fears to rest, but we do want to tell you not to worry if:
You feel occasional, painless contractions. Many women experience Braxton-Hicks contractions beginning around this time without ever realizing it. Think of them as practice runs for your uterus as it tries out the muscles it will need to deliver the baby. There's no cause for panic unless the contractions become intense, painful or frequent, in which case you should call your doctor.
Your gums bleed if you so much as think about brushing your teeth. It's normal for your gums to be swollen (just like every other part of you) at this point, leading them to bleed easily whenever you floss or brush. Brush gently with a soft-bristled brush, and be sure to floss daily, even though it may seem like you're just making things worse.
You have a dark line stretching from just below your breasts to just above your pubic area, dark patches on your face and small "skin tags" cropping up in random spots around your body. Yep, it's all pretty glamorous, this pregnancy business. The dark line and the discolored areas (called melasma, chloasma or the ominous sounding "mask of pregnancy") will fade after the baby is born -- although never as fast as we'd like. The skin tags, while not the most attractive features, are harmless and can be removed easily by a dermatologist or even your general practitioner.
Still want more information about all the changes you're experiencing? Take a look at the links on the next page.
- Guide to Being One Week Pregnant
- Guide to Being Two Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Three Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Four Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Five Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Six Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Seven Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Eight Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Nine Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 10 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 11 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 12 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 13 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 14 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 15 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 16 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 17 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 18 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 19 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 20 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 21 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 22 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 24 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 25 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 26 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 27 Weeks Pregnant
- American Pregnancy. "23rd Week of Pregnancy." (May 27, 2011)http://www.americanpregnancy.org/weekbyweek/week23.htm
- Harris, Christine. "The Pregnancy Journal: A Day-to-Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy." Chronicle Books. 2005.
- KidsHealth. "Pregnancy Calendar Week 23." (May 26, 2011) http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/pregnancy_calendar/week23.html
- Parenting. "Your Pregnancy: Week 23." (May 26, 2011)http://www.parenting.com/timeline/2nd-trimester-week-23
- WebMD.com. "Second Trimester Tests During Pregnancy." (May 27, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/second-trimester-tests
- WebMD.com. "Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Weeks 21-25." (May 27, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-21-25
- What to Expect. "Second Trimester of Pregnancy." (May 27, 2011)http://www.whattoexpect.com/second-trimester-of-pregnancy.aspx
- What to Expect. "Week 23 of Pregnancy." (May 27, 2011)http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-23.aspx