Six months into pregnancy could feel like a dream in which you are living every moment that you have always wanted to. You might be feeling the kicks more often by now and there is every reason to need frequent breaks in between long durations of work because nourishing and nurturing a baby in the womb is hard work and your body is doing it all alone. Along with the number of badges of honor that you already have, the popping of your belly button might add to the list. While this is a temporary occurrence and your navel will go back to its original form and shape after delivery, you might just fall in love with how your body is making every effort to care for the tiny being inside. This article will provide you with a list of signs and symptoms that could be introduced this week. However, it is important to remember that every pregnancy is different and there is no particular benchmark for every week of pregnancy. As long as the developments happen within a stipulated time period, everything should be fine.
Your Baby At 24 Weeks
Your baby is growing at a steady rate of six ounces per week. He is already a foot long and weighs around 1 1/3 pounds. You might be slightly taken aback to find out that his body continues to look lean but if you think about it, you will realize that his body is growing quite proportionately. Very soon, he will start gaining fat at a rapid pace and will plump up before birth.
The rest of his brain and neural tubes are also developing while making your baby more conscious about his immediate and distant environment. Do you remember how your baby’s taste buds had formed a couple of weeks earlier? They continue to develop throughout pregnancy and give your baby a quick peek at what you have been eating all this while. Don’t worry, you still have time to rethink dinner plans because baby does not like spinach.
Your baby’s lungs are one of the most important developments before birth and they are in full swing this week. The respiratory tract is branching out and surfactant1 is being produced that will help the air sacs in his lungs to inflate after birth. A lot of babies are born premature and the most difficult part of their survival is the incomplete development of their lungs. This is why doctors keep a close check on high-risk pregnancies so that if there is a possibility of preterm labor, they can help the lungs of the baby mature faster than the normal time taken.
Your baby’s skin continues to look thin and translucent and you can see the organs and bones through it. You will still not be able to make out what the color of your baby’s hair would be because it lacks pigmentation.
Have You Thought Of What Your Baby Hears From Inside The Womb?
Your baby has been able to perceive external sounds and noises from inside the womb for a very long time. While you are inhaling and exhaling through your lungs, your baby will be able to hear those sounds. Apart from that, your baby will also be able to hear the gurgling of your stomach acids.
If you are looking forward to helping your baby relate to a particular song after birth, you could play it all through your pregnancy. It has been seen that babies seem to fall asleep easily to lullabies that have been sung in pregnancy since they have heard it all through pregnancy.
Your baby will also be able to recognize your voice as well as your partner’s voice from inside the womb. If you happen to have a pet, your baby will probably be able to hear its voice as well.
Babies tend to get startled on hearing loud sounds and noises. This is why you will need to be careful about very loud music or sudden sounds as far as you can. Avoid going to places that might elevate your heartbeat because your baby will also feel the spike. As long as your baby is not reacting to any of these elements in a negative way, you can cherish each moment of your life as it comes.
How Is Your Body Changing At 24 Weeks?
If you were tired of waiting for your belly button to pop, this is probably the week when it will happen to you. As your uterus grows bigger and pushes everything up and outside, your belly button will finally pop and even if you have had the shallowest innie ever, your outie will surprise you with how far it can go. You might wonder if your navel will ever get back to what it used to be earlier. Like other badges of honor that you will eventually get accustomed to wearing, a stretched navel is also one of them. Your navel will go back inside after the delivery but you might not get back the same shape and positioning, owing to the stretching, pulling and tugging of all the internal muscles.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
One of the commonest symptoms of the second trimester is the carpel tunnel syndrome that might make working with your fingers a tad bit difficult at times. While carpel tunnel syndrome affects a considerable number of pregnant women, it does not necessarily affect all. It can occur to you all of a sudden and might as well jeopardize your normal activities.
What starts off as a mild tingling sensation around the wrists and fingers might turn into a full-fledged numbness that could last long if not diagnosed and taken care of at the earliest. A lot of women who work outside home experience carpal tunnel syndrome earlier than those who stay at home, especially if they are involved in desk jobs that need a lot of typing etc. carpal tunnel is aggravated by repetitive movements and if you are diagnosed with it, you might need to make lifestyle changes to avoid triggers.
You must have wondered why this tingling and numbness essentially strike at night when you are lying down. There is swelling in your body when you are pregnant and that leads to fluid accumulation in the lower extremities of your body. When you lie down at night, these fluids are redistributed to the different parts of your body that includes your wrists as well. This, in turn, leads to the numbness or tingling sensation in your fingers and wrists. This syndrome is also characterized by a dull ache for some women.
How will you ensure a good night’s sleep for yourself? Since carpal tunnel tends to creep in at night and disrupt your sleeping patterns, you will need to ensure that you prop up a couple of pillows and sleep on them instead of placing pressure on your arms or wrists.
Apart from nights, if this syndrome tends to make your days troublesome too, you can try shaking your wrists, fingers and forearms occasionally to prevent sudden tingling or numbness. If your profession demands repetitive work like typing or playing an instrument etc, ensure that you take frequent breaks in between to prevent the pain from settling it and making it worse. You can also opt for a wrist brace if the going gets tough in the longer run. A wrist brace will restrict excessive movement of the affected area and will keep the pain or swelling from aggravating. If your pain seems to affect your regular course of work adversely, you could consult your doctor for pregnancy safe pain relief.
Are Your Palms Always Red And Itchy?
While you always knew that pregnancy comes along with a number of symptoms, a brand new one each week maybe, you were probably unaware of quite a few annoying ones. Red and itchy palms are one of them. If you happen to notice a stark redness that does not limit itself to your palms but also spreads to your soles, you need to speak to your doctor so that he can rule out cholestasis2.
Itchy and red palms are normal by themselves and mean no harm during pregnancy. Along with the other symptoms like vision changes, weird taste in your mouth, skin tags and itchy skin, this symptom stays till you deliver and fade off soon after. What you could do about it is stay away from anything that tends to overheat your body. Hot showers, saunas, spas or any other exposure to heat should be avoided as far as possible. You could also ask your partner to take over the dish washing duties till delivery so that further scrubbing does not worsen the situation. A lot of pregnant women swear by ice or cold packs to help relieve the symptoms.
What You Could Be Tested For This Week
Between the 24th and 28th week, a lot of women are tested for gestational diabetes. The test is called a glucose screening or a glucose challenge test and allows the doctor to check for pregnancy induced diabetes. If you have a condition in which your blood sugar is heightened because of pregnancy, you and your baby are both at potential risks.
Your baby could be at the risk of preterm labor and you could also have multiple complications at birth, including the need to perform emergency C-sections. Gestational diabetes is plaguing 7 out of 10 pregnant women these days and while it could be a cause of major concern, it can be kept under control and you could have a hassle-free normal delivery.
However, in a lot of cases, gestational diabetes goes on to become one of the leading reasons for you to have a C-section. Since it tends to make your baby grow bigger in size, the chances of a normal delivery look bleak and doctors definitely don’t want to take chances. Your baby could also have elevated blood sugar levels after birth if you continue to have high blood glucose all through pregnancy.
If you do show up to be positive for GD on your glucose tolerance test, your doctor would consider the measure by which you are at risk and suggest accordingly. You might simply need dietary and lifestyle changes to begin with if you are borderline diabetic. However, if your levels are too high, he might suggest insulin injections or safe pills to be taken to regulate the blood sugar levels.
When Are You At A Risk Of Developing Gestational Diabetes?
Even if you haven’t had GD in the past and even if no one in the family has a history, you could develop gestational diabetes. Listed below are the factors that play a key role in it:
- If you are aged 30 and above, there is a high probability of getting GD.
- If you have a family history of diabetes, you are more than likely to get it.
- If you are overweight or obese and your BMI is higher than 30.
- If you have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
- If you suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
There is no real guarantee that gestational diabetes can be avoided if the factors mentioned above are not present but there are ways in which you can lower your risk factors. A healthy lifestyle with the right kind of diet will help you to avoid the condition.
Dietary And Lifestyle Changes To Regulate Blood Sugar
If you are borderline diabetic, there are simpler ways of regulating your glucose levels without resorting to pills or insulin. Your doctor or midwife will be able to guide you as per your health. Listed below are a few general guidelines that doctors expect you to follow if your levels are found to be slightly higher than normal:
Mild To Moderate Exercise
The importance of staying active in pregnancy can never be highlighted enough. This is one of the most convenient ways of keeping yourself feeling fit and energetic all through the gestational period. Depending upon your pregnancy, your doctor will suggest you to take regular walks for 15-20 minutes or maybe more every day. This will prove to be beneficial for your stiff joints and muscles as well. Pregnancy aches and pains also seem to get better with regular brisk walking. However, if your pregnancy is a high-risk one, you might be asked to take it slow and indulge in very mild exercises to loosen up.
Having Food High In Fiber
Whole food that is high in fiber is highly recommended for pregnant women who are borderline diabetic. Along with doing wonders for you blood glucose, fiber also helps with driving your sluggish digestive system better, thus resulting in proper bowel movement. Try having brown rice instead of white and whole wheat instead of refined flour. This is an excellent step towards good health, irrespective of whether you are pregnant or not.
Cut Out Sweets, Processed Food And Fried Food
There is no denying the fact that cravings can literally drive you insane and you are either tempted to bite into a bar of chocolate at midnight or are craving to dig into the plate of fries on the next table. While it is very difficult to resist temptations in pregnancy, it is important to understand that processed and fried food consist of empty calories that will fill you up initially but cause sugar slumps later. Once in a while, you could have a cheat day or two, bt restrict the intake of these food types if your blood glucose is not stable.
Know About Preterm Labor
At 24 weeks, there are a number of new terms and ideas that you should start getting accustomed to and one of the most significant terms is Preterm Labor. A lot of babies in the United States are born prematurely. While some babies need to be delivered as early as possible because of a number of maternal and fetal complications, some others are naturally born preterm because there is premature breaking of waters or dilation of cervix.
One of the most staggering causes of preterm labor is preeclampsia. In this condition, the baby might stop growing and have intra-uterine growth retardation. This situation demands that the baby be delivered as soon as possible and be allowed to grow outside the womb.
There Are A Few Reasons To Go Into Preterm Labor And Some Of Them Are As Follows:
- If you have genital tract infections3 that reach your kidneys.
- If your placenta is not developed enough to nourish the baby as required.
- If your cervix is insufficient to hold the weight of the growing uterus and dilates way before the due date.
Since preterm labor can strike anytime and anywhere, it is important for all pregnant women to know about the risks and symptoms of this issue.
The Signs Of Preterm Labor
- If your vaginal discharge is clear and looks more like water than the normal discharge.
- If there is an increase in the discharge or it mucus-like and streaked with blood.
- If you have vaginal bleeding; even spotting could mean something so if you notice the tiniest bit of blood, consult your doctor immediately.
- If you have intense abdominal cramps.
- If the Braxton hicks contractions seem to get closer and there are more than 4 contractions in less than an hour.
- If you feel a heaviness or pressure on and around your pelvis. This could also be due to a urinary tract infection.
- A dull and nagging backache that seems to have set in all of a sudden.
It is not that the presence of one or more symptoms needs to be necessarily linked to preterm labor. They could also be normal symptoms that are associated with second trimester but you can never be too careful and it is wise to consult your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Does A Preterm Baby Grow Up To Be Fine?
The chances of a premature baby born between 34 and 37 weeks to have a lot of health problems are comparatively lower than those who are born before this time. There are babies as premature as 24 or 26 weeks because pregnancies are getting more complicated by the day, thanks to environmental and a number of other factors. It is difficult to say beforehand about the frequency of medical interventions that might be needed for preterm babies but with the way in which neonatal care4 has advanced, preterm infants often go on to have pretty normal lives.
For babies who are born way too ahead of time, there is a possibility that they might need frequent treatments, special care and added attention. They could also have a number of health conditions that need to be addressed frequently.
Helping Your Pregnant Spouse In The 24th Week
It is time to start looking around yourself and fixing things before the baby arrives. There are things like getting your rooms painted, fixing door stoppers, leaky faucets and broken furniture etc. These activities need a lot of moving around that you will need to undertake if you have a pregnant wife. Although 24 weeks sounds way too early for anything, there is no denying the fact that time flies and even before you know it, you will have a tiny being cooing in your arms.
Getting smoke detectors and fire extinguishers installed in your house is the first step in ensuring you have a safe haven to welcome your little one into. In case of a fire, always have a fire escape route planned out in advance.
Door stoppers, broken furniture and leaky faucets must be taken care of instantly because your spouse is accident prone at the moment because of the shift in her center of gravity and the last thing that you would want is an accident.
If you haven’t already started, it is time to arrange for the nursery. Get the rooms painted, buy furniture that sound logically useful and start accumulating toys and other essential items for the nursery.
It is never too early to start preparing yourself to become parents and by 24 weeks, you are already in the thick of things. It is simply about taking that one step ahead and planning your lives accordingly around it.