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With the advancement of technology, it is now possible to follow your baby’s journey in the womb and learn about the developments at each stage of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks and is divided into 3 trimesters. Week 23 of the pregnancy falls under the second trimester which is a crucial period for both, mother and the baby.
At week 23, you are halfway through the pregnancy journey. At this stage of pregnancy, the body undergoes considerable physical and hormonal changes as the foetus is growing and developing critical organs. As the baby grows, the bump becomes evident and this is the time when you can feel your baby moving inside.
Your Baby’s Growth During Pregnancy – Week 23
Week 23 is the time from when your baby starts gaining considerable weight. At this juncture, the skin of the baby is saggy as it grows a lot faster than the fat. At week 23, blood vessels in the lungs are developing to aid breathing and billions of brain cells will develop over the next few weeks. The sense of movement is well developed and the baby can feel you move.
What is Baby’s Size?
At this juncture, your baby is around 11 inches long and a little over one pound in weight. 23 weeks pregnant baby size is similar to the size of a mango. The baby is growing very rapidly at this stage and will double in weight in the next four weeks.
Common Body Changes
A pregnant woman undergoes several noticeable body changes during pregnancy. These changes become more evident as the delivery approaches. At week 23 of pregnancy, you may feel clumsy as the baby bump gets larger and your centre of gravity starts shifting. The belly button might pop out in case you had a belly button coiled inside. You might have clear or yellowish vaginal discharge that has a faint smell. Due to the increase in weight of your baby, you will experience swollen feet and pain in knees. The soles of your feet and palms of the hand might be red and the body is prone to heat rashes and skin tags.
At this stage, the stretch marks become more evident and you might notice a dark line on the centre of your belly which is called linea nigra. The linea nigra is caused by the same hormones that cause skin discolourations during pregnancy and runs down from the belly button to the pubic area. Some woman might also notice discolouration on the face, especially in the area around the nose, cheeks, eyes, and forehead.
Symptoms of Pregnancy at Week 23
The symptoms of pregnancy in the second trimester are different from that of the first trimester. While the first trimester is marked by nausea and fatigue, the second trimester has the following symptoms:
- Swollen ankles and feet: Puffy ankles and feet are a result of the increase in the weight of your body. This can be dealt with by putting your feet up as much as possible, walking regularly and drinking abundant water. A doctor should be consulted immediately in case of extreme, sudden swelling as this might be a sign of preeclampsia, a risky pregnancy complication that is characterised by a rise in blood pressure.
- Backaches: Backaches are common for women who are 23 weeks pregnant because the growing baby starts to push against the spine and cause stress to your back muscles. Regular exercise can provide comfort from the aches.
- Braxton Hicks contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions are the contractions that occur before the real labour and are generally experienced during the third trimester. During the contractions, the muscles of the uterus tense up for about 30 to 60 seconds and can last for up to two minutes. Change positions frequently and drink plenty of water to stay comfortable.
- Bleeding and swollen gums: Pregnancy hormones are known to increase the flow of blood making the gums swell and bleed. In case the gums are more sensitive than usual, you can use a soft bristle toothbrush.
- Frequent urination: a very common, and one of the first symptoms of pregnancy, frequent urination will continue to keep you on your toes this week too.
- Snoring and nasal congestion: this is caused mainly due to rising oestrogen levels which makes your nasal blood vessels swell.
Belly at 23 Weeks of Pregnancy
At 23 weeks, the belly will measure about 21 to 25 centimetres when measured from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus making the bump evident. The weight gain at this stage ranges from 12 to 15 pounds, but if you are pregnant with twins, then the weight gain would be at least 23 pounds.
23 Weeks Ultrasound
The ultrasound at 23 weeks would reveal the extent to which your baby has already developed. By the 23rd week, the foetus’ face is fully formed and there are tiny little nipples which are forming on the baby’s chest. The baby can now listen to your heartbeat and sounds like car honking and barking dogs.
What to Eat?
The baby is fast gaining weight and the critical organs are taking shape. It is important for the mother to ensure that the baby receives sufficient nutrients through her. The food intake should be high in essential nutrients such as vitamins, proteins, calcium, iron and unhealthy food items containing excess oil, fats, sugar or salt should be avoided. Food items such as dairy products, nuts, and seeds, fish, figs or apricots, green vegetables like spinach, cereals should form a part of your 23rd week pregnancy food list as they provide you with iron, calcium and other essential supplements necessary to maintain your health.
Tips & Care
Halfway through the pregnancy, you are bound to be both excited and nervous and the body changes coupled with anxiety might lead to stress. In such a situation, it is important to keep calm and take care of yourself. Avoid activities that would increase stress and engage in a routine which will de-stress you, such as exercising, doing yoga or meditation. Here is a list of dos and don’ts that will help you through the journey:
- Eat healthy, consume lot of liquids to stay hydrated
- Exercise daily and practice yoga or meditation
- While travelling in a car, ensure you position the seat belt properly.
- Ensure that you don’t miss your regular health check-up.
- Sleep well.
- Avoid too much movement.
- Avoid foods which will dehydrate you such as fried food, white asparagus, coffee and sugary drinks, and do not overeat.
- Avoid food items which are prohibited from consumption during pregnancy, such as raw meat, deli meat, fish with high mercury content (king mackerel, swordfish, etc.), raw eggs, unpasteurised milk, etc.
- Avoid activities which will increase stress and tire you.
What You Need to Shop For
In the second trimester, your belly is growing and life is going through significant changes. Here is a list of items that you will need to shop for in order to stay apace with the developments.
- Maternity wear: Your expanding belly calls for a wardrobe update. You will have to shop for dresses that will help you stay comfortable as your weight increases and body expands.
- Sleep aids: It is important to get good sleep at this stage. Sleep aids such as comfortable pillows, ear plugs, and eye masks may come handy.
- Pregnancy books: In order to make the most out of your pregnancy, pregnancy books can be of great help. Engross yourself in reading pregnancy and childcare books.
You can also start preparing for the baby to come by shopping for newborn clothes, changing table, crib with mattress, baby bedding, and nursery accessories.
Keep in mind that early preparation and proper care is the key to having a stress-free pregnancy.
Read this article in Arabic: الأسبوع 23 من الحمل