Welcome to Week 23 Of Your Pregnancy!
What is Happening With Baby This Week?
By the 23rd week of pregnancy, the average baby is 11 inches or 26 cm from head to toe. She weighs approximately one pound or close to 500 grams which is about the size of this eggplant and she will only keep getting plumper.
Your baby is finally starting to look like a newborn. Her face and body are fully formed at 23 weeks, but she needs extra body fat to fill out her wrinkly skin. Baby actually produces skin faster than fat accumulates. She is slender and delicate looking… like this 3D image of an unborn 23 week fetus.
Over the next month, fat production goes into overdrive and she will double in weight and size. Because she doesn’t have enough fat yet, her skin is covered with soft, fine hair (called lanugo) that keeps her warm in the womb.
At this stage in fetal development, your baby’s body is becoming more proportional, but her head is still larger than the rest of her body. Her extremities are lengthening and her hands are well defined as you can see in this 3D image.
Although you’re only a little more than halfway through your pregnancy, your developing baby is getting ready for her first breath. Your baby’s lungs are developing rapidly in preparation for life outside the womb. She is practicing “breathing” by moving amniotic fluid in and out of her lungs but there is no air within the lungs, not until after birth. Blood vessels in her lungs are growing and developing also in preparation for breathing.
The lungs are producing surfactant, an important substance that allows air sacs to inflate easily and prevents the air sacs from collapsing and or sticking together. Without enough surfactant, the lungs will collapse and the baby won’t be able to breathe.
The lung development is the biggest milestone for your baby during week 23. With the right care, if your baby is born at this time it is possible that the lungs could function outside the womb and baby has a very good chance of survival.
Your baby’s sense of movement is developed now, so she can feel you dance and move around. Don’t be surprised if she starts kicking up a storm this week, especially if you’re near a loud vacuum cleaner or in a noisy environment. You’d be surprised just how noisy your body is, with the gurgling of your stomach and the sound of your heartbeat. The bones in Babys middle ear have hardened and she can pick up noises and sounds from the outside world. Baby will recognize your voice by its pitch so spend some time talking to your baby. Research tells us that baby can hear male voices easier because they are a lower tone than female high pitched voices.
What is Happening With You Week?
Your belly is nice and round at 23 weeks, and you have probably gained between 12 and 15 pounds. The extra pounds you’re carrying around can take its toll on your body. You’re probably feeling more unbalanced and unsteady on your feet. This is because your center of gravity is shifting forward. To avoid falling and hurting yourself, try to slow down and be careful when you’re walking. Also be wary of unwanted comments about your weight, every woman carries her weight differently and however you are carrying yours, it is more likely that your baby is just the right size.
The weight you’re carrying around, along with your shift center of gravity, can also strain your spine and back muscles. Back pain and discomfort is very common at this stage in pregnancy. To help ease your achy back, you may want to use a cold compress or ice pack. A heating pad or hot water bottle may also give you some relief.
At 23 weeks, it’s also common for you to notice mild swelling in your feet and ankles, especially at the end of the day. This is called edema, and it’s the result of poor circulation in your legs, water retention, and changes in your blood chemistry during pregnancy.
Although it’s annoying to have swollen ankles and feet, it’s a normal pregnancy symptom. You can minimize the swelling by wearing support stockings, exercising regularly, and wearing comfortable shoes. Also try to rest occasionally and elevate your legs. Don’t stop drinking water and other fluids, since dehydration can put you at risk for complications. Staying hydrated actually helps with water retention and reduces the swelling.
Your baby still has plenty of room to move inside your uterus, so you can expect to feel strong fetal movements this week. When you lay down, you may even be able to see her kick and squirm about. Enjoy these special moments while you can!
Here is a suggested checklist for week 23:
Make an appointment for a glucose screening test – This screening test checks for gestational diabetes, a common pregnancy complication that affects between 2 to 10 percent of all pregnant women. Most obstetricians and health care providers recommend that you take the test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Start planning for maternity leave – Although you won’t be going into labor for three months or so, you should start preparing for maternity leave. At 23 weeks, you should schedule a meeting with your supervisor to formalize arrangements in regards to your maternity leave. Depending on your field of work, you may also need to start training your replacement.
Keep taking your prenatal vitamins – You might be halfway through your pregnancy, but you still need to continue to take your prenatal multivitamins. Many pregnant women don’t get all the vitamins and minerals that they need from their diet. Think of your prenatal vitamins as an insurance policy that ensures that your baby gets everything she needs to grow healthy and strong in the womb.