The fetus should now weigh about four to six ounces and be about four-and-a-half inches long. Its head may appear very large compared to the rest of its body and account for half the baby’s total length. Muscles have developed. The baby can move all its arm and leg joints.
Your appetite should increase as morning sickness subsides. Your belly is probably beginning to show now and you will probably need to switch to maternity clothes and larger bras.
An embryo may begin to make spontaneous movement by the seventh week of pregnancy, but most women won’t be able to feel it at that time. However, sometime between 18 and 22 weeks, you’ll begin to feel your baby move. This is called “quickening,” and is the beginning of what may be one of the greatest sources of joy during your pregnancy.
It’s difficult to explain to a first-time mother exactly what she can expect to feel. Some women say it feels like a flutter in their lower abdomen or butterflies in their stomach. Others describe it as a bumping or nudging, a twitch, a growling stomach or a bubble bursting. Some first-time mothers mistake the first sensations of fetal movement for a gas bubble.
Women who have had a baby before and recognize the sensation of fetal movement or women who are very thin may feel their baby’s first movement earlier than 18 weeks into their pregnancy. In addition, a miscalculated due date can also make it appear as if the first movements are coming earlier in the pregnancy than normal.
As your pregnancy progresses, your baby will be moving almost continuously, although you won’t feel every movement. The position of the fetus and your own activity can make your baby’s movements indiscernible. You may also be asleep when your baby is most active – as many babies are at their peak of activity in the middle of the night.
Between the 24th and 28th weeks, fetal movement becomes more consistent and expectant mothers can keep track of fetal activity. If you’d like, or if your physician recommends that you do so, you can keep a “kick chart” that will track your baby’s movements.
Mood Swings and Emotions
Mood swings during pregnancy are very real and you may also experience feelings of “strangeness.” Hormonal changes in your body are the major cause of both. You can expect to be on an emotional roller coaster with the changing phases of your pregnancy.
Can you feel your baby?
If you haven’t felt your baby moving around all day and you want to bring out some movement, try this in the evening:
- Have a glass of milk or a snack.
- Lie down for an hour or two.
The combination of your inactivity and the food may get your baby going. If this doesn’t work, you can repeat the steps, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work. Expecting moms may not feel movement for a few days at a time.
Weeks 17 to 21
By the end of the fifth month, the fetus may be eight to 10 inches long and weigh between a half-pound and one pound. It has begun to grow hair on its head and its eyebrows and eyelashes begin to appear. A thick coating, called vemix, covers and protects the baby’s skin. The baby is becoming very active, and kicks. It can also open and close its eyes, and blink.
Your uterus has grown to the height of your belly button, and you should now be able to feel your baby moving around inside.
Because this is a very sensitive and emotional time, it’s important to be aware of your feelings and not bottle them up. Good communication with your partner, family and healthcare professionals can help alleviate your fears. So if you’re afraid of something, talk about it.
Weeks 22 to 27
The rapid growth of your baby continues. The fetus should now weigh about one pound and be 11 to 14 inches long. Its skin is red and wrinkled and covered with a fine soft hair. Finger and toe prints are developing. You may feel your baby’s strong kicking and the skin on your belly is probably starting to itch. (Try cocoa butter or coconut oil.) You may also be experiencing pain down the side of your belly as your uterus stretches.Talk with your doctor about best remedies for pain. Don’t take any medications or supplements without consulting your doctor. What you take goes to your baby, too.
Your Comfort and Safety
Maintaining your comfort and safety is important while you’re pregnant, so be sure to take time to care for yourself. At the same time, be on the lookout for hazards that could potentially cause problems for you and your baby such as crowded stairways or hallways, or indoor or outdoor environments that have been cleaned or treated with toxic chemicals.
Comfort During Pregnancy
By the end of the second trimester, your baby will begin to grow more rapidly and will demand a great deal of energy from your body. Here are a few tips to help you relax and replenish your energy:
- Take a break every day for half an hour. For your break, gather six to eight pillows. Make a stack of four or five pillows in front of you. Make another stack of two or three pillows and sit on them, facing the larger stack. Lean forward onto the larger stack with the smaller stack supporting you. This will help take the weight of your uterus off your back and restore your energy.
- Lying on your side can be an ideal resting position. This is especially important after your fifth month of pregnancy, when lying on your back can cause the weight of your enlarged uterus to impede the flow of blood and oxygen to you and your baby. For comfort, bend your knees and elbows. Then place several pillows under your knees, head and back.
- Try semi-sitting to ease nausea and indigestion or make reading and relaxing more enjoyable. Lean back on pillows at about a 45-degree angle. Then put a pillow or a few rolled towels under your knees to give them support and keep them flexed.
Play it Safe
When you are pregnant, it’s more important than ever that you be careful and avoid the hazards we can encounter everyday.
- Wear your seatbelt when in moving vehicles. Make sure you keep the lap portion of the belt under your belly, low and across your pelvic area. The shoulder harness should come down over your shoulder, between your breasts and over the top of your belly to fasten on the side. Follow your auto manufacturer’s recommendations for seatbelt and air bag safety. If you are driving, try to sit about 10 inches away from the steering wheel. And be sure to keep objects off your lap and the dashboard.
- Watch out for workplace, household and garden chemicals. Fumes from paint, varnish, garden or home pesticides and cleaning fluids may contain dangerous chemicals you could inhale. This is a great time to make your home and gardens green spaces.
- Stay away from hot tubs and saunas. The heat from these can damage your baby’s developing brain and spinal cord.
- Avoid lead. Lead can be breathed or swallowed when found in paint, water and crystal.
- Let someone else clean up after your pets. Cat feces can carry diseases that bring about birth defects.
- Make a no-smoking rule in your house. Even second-hand smoke can hurt your baby.
- Avoid caffeine, often contained in soda, coffee and tea.
- Do not drink alcohol while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It can result in serious mental and physical defects known as fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Get your physician’s approval before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications or home remedies.
- Watch your step. You are not as well-balanced as you were before you became pregnant. Make sure your rugs have skid-proof bottoms and be careful getting out of the tub or shower.
- Wear sensible shoes. Don’t wear high heels, sloppy slippers or thongs that could cause you to slip and fall.
Getting Comfy in Maternity Clothes
Today’s maternity clothes are more stylish than ever as well as being practical. Here are a few tips to help you make wise choices with your pregnancy wardrobe.
- Buy as you grow and buy only what you need. You may be tempted to go on a whirlwind shopping spree the first day you can’t button your pants, but don’t. You still have quite a way to grow!
- Don’t feel limited to maternity wear. If it fits, buy it. Also, look at your current wardrobe for clothes that may fit you later in your pregnancy.
- Don’t rely on the pregnancy pillows used in maternity dressing rooms. It is difficult to predict how you will carry your baby.
- Maintain your sense of style. If you’re a tailored dresser, don’t let your maternity hormones steer you towards a frilly wardrobe to look the part of a mother-in-waiting. You will probably regret it.
- Focus on accessories. They can make up for fashion compromises you may have to make while you are pregnant.
- Accept all offers to borrow maternity clothes, even if you’re not sure it’s your style. You can always accessorize. Reciprocate and lend others your maternity clothes after you have your baby.
- Don’t forget the other side of the closet! Your husband’s clothes, like T-shirts, sweatpants, sweaters and dress shirts are there for the borrowing.
- A well-fitting, supportive bra is an essential when you are pregnant.