It does feel unbelievable but you really are in the 23rd week of pregnancy and there is more than one significant thing to look forward to. This week your baby is sharpening her sense of movement, which will help her in sensing your dance moves. You would have jumped out of joy if you knew how incredible the coming weeks would be. That tiny lemon inside your womb is now a proper newborn; weighing more than a pound, measuring in terms of crown to heel and bobbing up and down inside the uterus. The space inside is getting cramped with each passing day because as much As your belly is growing, so is your baby and you will soon be in the third trimester before you know it. There are a few things that you will have to take note of from this week onwards. Issues like pre-eclampsia1, anemia, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes tend to crop up around this time and if you aware of the signs and symptoms, you will be able to keep them at bay.
Your Baby At 23 Weeks
Your baby measures around 11 inches in length, weighs over a pound and this is the week when he will start gaining weight to fill out the saggy skin. However, his skin will continue to be saggy because he will grow faster than he can fill in but in the next 4 weeks, there will be dramatic developments that will make him double his weight. This weight gain will make you feel chubbier too and the weighing scale will confirm all your doubts. As long as the weight gain is within safer limits, it is fine to have that one cheat day in a while when you load up on chocolates and cheese. Very soon your baby’s skin will become opaque but for the time being, his organs are visible from underneath his transparent skin and so are all her veins and arteries.
Your baby’s lungs are developing rapidly and the blood vessels inside are gearing up to take on the most significant role of breathing when he or she will be outside the womb. Your baby’s sense of hearing is also developing at a fast pace. While she was able to hear your and your partner’s voices till now, this week on wards she would be able to hear the dog barking loudly, the room being vacuumed, the car honking etc. These sounds will no longer scare her because her nervous system is gearing up for life outside the womb along with all the sounds and noises that one can hear.
Did you know that you can now hear your baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope only? Yes, as unbelievable as that sounds, it is true. Till last week, your doctor would have used a Doppler to hear your baby’s beating heart but he will gladly announce that only the stethoscope would do now on. However, he might still want to use the Doppler to ensure that everything is fine with your baby.
Your Body At 23 Weeks
It is all about the baby and how it is changing your body this week. Everything that you do is directly related to your baby and you will need to take precautions to ensure that he or she is not affected negatively by it. There are plenty of things going on in your body and you can’t really figure out where to start and where to stop. From this dark line running down your belly to these stretch marks that make your body look like a highway to the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet red and hot; you are changing in more ways than one.
As Edema Continues To Plague Your Existence
That annoying swelling on and around your ankles and feet will continue to disrupt your sleep even into the 23rd week of pregnancy and you might find unwinding at the end of the day next to impossible. What could you do to keep this swelling under control? Whom would you blame? The blood circulation to your legs slows down as you move ahead in pregnancy which goes on to cause water retention. All the excessive fluids that your body will accumulate in pregnancy will be shed off after delivery but till then you will have to find ways to keep the swelling under control.
After delivery, your body will sweat profusely and you will also urinate more frequently to get rid of the fluid retention. Till then you can try out these ways of reducing edema.
Exercising regularly can significantly reduce the swelling around your ankles. Sitting down or lying down for longer stretches of time can enhance the symptoms which are why it is recommended that pregnant women take short breaks while working so that the circulation is not affected any further.
You might think that drinking more water would only worsen your situation but that is not true. If you skip your water intake, you will only be adding to your troubles because it is important to keep your body hydrated to reduce water retention. It is normal for your body to swell up at times in pregnancy but if the swelling persists and you also have high blood pressure to go along with it, you could be showing signs of preeclampsia. Swelling of fingers, hands and puffiness on your face are all symptoms that you should never ignore.
How To Deal With Skin Discolorations
As if the stretch marks were not enough, you will now have to deal with skin discolorations and pigmentation. Along with that dark line2 that runs from your belly button till your pubic area and also upwards till your breastbone sometimes, the mask of pregnancy is making your night outs impossible. Watch video tutorials online to learn new ways of concealing your pigmentation if you feel too conscious about people asking you questions. If you thought that these are here to stay, stop worrying about it because pigmentation disappears within a few weeks of delivery and you will get back your flawless skin very soon.
Avoid using bleaching creams even if you are tempted to because skin in pregnancy is quite sensitive already and these creams could further aggravate the skin conditions. You can simply let them be because everyone around would generally understand and if they don’t, you are not answerable to them.
Understanding Fetal Movements
This is a crucial lesson in pregnancy because it is important to keep a track of fetal movements from the third trimester. So start practicing from beforehand. Find out your baby’s pattern and keep a track of it. Your baby is most likely to move around more when you are settling down or you are trying to fall asleep. In a few more weeks, your baby will move much more even if the space around is closing in. Once you start keeping a track you will have to look for 10 moves in an hour. Don’t hit the panic button if your baby does not move as many number of times because it is possible that he or she is sleeping. You could wait for an hour or so and then check again.
A lot of women have reported that having sugary drinks makes their baby move a lot more. If that is the s with you, you could try a few sips and see if it works. However, avoid over-indulging in sugar laden food or beverages. If you don’t feel any movement for more than 3-4 hours, you could call you doctor for help. If the doctor is concerned, he will ask you to come down for a quick checkup and in all probability, your baby will be fine.
You can have a number of reasons to not relax during pregnancy but that is the best possible thing you could do. Relaxation is the way to feel good about the worst of changes that your body is going through. A sleep-deprived brain and body is like a car running on reserve. You might make it to the destination but the machinery will be impacted in the process. Would you want to feel cranky and irritable all day? But how will I avoid all the anxiousness that builds up through the day and does not let me sleep at night? Read below to find ways out of your troubled mind:
Read As Much As You Can
Reading is therapeutic and we all know that. There can be nothing as enjoyable as a book that fills you up with things you can think about when you want to distract yourself from troubles. While pregnancy insomnia comes haunting, try picking up a book of your choice and read it to your heart’s content. Read pregnancy and parenting books if you want to and if you are not the type to keep yourself prepared for thing to come, you can read your novels and biographies. There is a myth surrounding books in pregnancy. It says that if you read violent books, there is a possibility that your baby will turn aggressive after birth. It is a myth in the truest sense of the term.
Walk Before Bedtime
Several women who suffer pregnancy insomnia swear by the miracles of a brisk walk just before bedtime. When your body gets used to the pace, try walking a little more every day. Never force yourself to go that extra mile but if your body is more than willing, don’t deny it that exercise. You will be amazed at how comfortably you sleep every night then onwards.
Shower Before Hitting The Bed
A luxurious bath or a long shower can help you relax and will also take a major chunk of your aches and pains away. There is nothing like a hot shower before slipping under the sheets. However, ensure that the water is not too hot or else you might unnecessarily elevate your body temperature.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you have been feeling a weird tingling and burning sensation on and around your wrists, fingers and hands, it could be carpal tunnel syndrome. A lot of pregnant women experience this and with activities like writing, typing or playing certain kinds of sport could aggravate the situation if you already have it. Basically, any sort of repetitive motion will make the pain worse. If possible, try and avoid repetitive wrist movements as much as you can. If it is impossible to avoid, place your wrists at the same level as your desk and don’t let it hang off the edge. This might help to avoid the problem to some extent.
Why Does It Happen?
In pregnancy, your wrists tend to have swelling and so do other parts of your body. This places a pressure on the key nerves of your wrists and causes carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have a desk job or a back office job, you will be more than prone to get it.
How You Could Help Yourself
If your work involves typing or working on the computer for long stretches of time, take short breaks in between and stretch out your fingers so that they don’t get stiff.
Sleeping on your hands could enhance your symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Always use pillows to prop up your head so that you don’t wake up in the middle of the night with a painful wrist.
Pregnant women often swear by the miracles of acupuncture but you should ideally not start anything new without consulting your doctor. Different bodies react differently and you might not be comfortable with the therapy at all.
The best person to talk about this would be your physician who will be able to guide you with physiotherapy recommendations and suggest pain relief medication, if the need arises.
Have You Thought Of Cord Blood Banking?
Your baby’s umbilical cord blood is precious because it contains stem cells that are responsible for building the immune system and also for treating a number of deadly diseases, if they do happen to your baby in future. If you have no clue about this process, read below to know all about it and find out why you must consider this incredible form of health insurance.
Stem cells are designed by the body to take the form of other types of cells which is why these are prized possessions. Cord blood3 is being researched in more ways than one because it can cure a number of diseases that cannot be treated by medicines. Furthermore, for tissue, organ and blood vessel repair, cord blood can be used effectively.
If you are worried about hurting or harming your baby, please understand that the process is quick and simple and will not harm your baby in any way. He or she will probably not feel a thing.
If you are interested in preserving your baby’s cord blood, you have two options to choose from; the first one is to donate your baby’s cord blood to a public blood bank. You can start checking in on this process around this week because a lot of public banks prefer finding out your history before giving you the green signal.
If you happen to find out a reliable private blood bank, that is even better. You will need to pay a lump sum amount of money to sign up for this but the benefits far outweigh the cost of blood banking. You might need to sign up in the second trimester itself because most of these blood banks prefer early appointments since they run background checks on people.
Are You Anemic?
Iron levels tend to drop drastically during the second trimester and if you have not been taking your iron supplements regularly, there are chances that you might be anemic. If you are feeling tired all the time and cannot seem to focus on one thing at a time, consider getting a blood test done so that anemia can be ruled out.
If anemia is left untreated, your heart will be unnecessarily put at risk and you could suffer from excessive blood loss at birth. Although most women with anemia recover with proper supplementation, some are never diagnosed and their babies also suffer from multiple problems after birth.
Along with supplements, please ensure that you are on a diet rich in iron. Red meat is an excellent source of iron and so is chicken. Fortified eggs are also decent sources. If you are a vegetarian, you can combine your plant based sources of iron with Vitamin C for maximum absorption.
One thing that you need to be careful about is your tendency to become constipated if you are on iron supplements. Ask your doctor for slow-releasing alternatives that will not contribute to the problem as much.
Do Something Different This Week
Don’t stick to your old activities every week. These are probably the best memories of your life and you can make the most of it by preserving them in time. You could make a photo album with the pictures of your baby bump that you will later be able to show to your baby. Take a picture every week and you can either make collages and hang up on the wall or paste them on scrap books that you can later look at and feel happy about them.
Try writing letters to your baby. Write about the first day you felt her kicks, the nudges, the moves and how strong the jabs at your ribs were. Include some humor and you will have a fun time reading them out to your baby later in life. She might also want to keep these as precious memories for her children to read through.
What Can You Do For your Pregnant Spouse This Week?
Learn a little more about cord blood banking because your wife might have heard all about it but her pregnancy hormones could make her forgetful. She looks at herself in the mirror as if she is a mess but reassure her time and again that she is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to her. You could contribute in your own way in finding names for your baby. Help her with options but refrain from deciding on anything. Pregnant women tend to be highly sensitive and possessive about anything related to their babies and it is a wise idea to keep a number of options that she can choose from.
In case you are planning to relocate, try doing it before the third trimester is here. That is because your wife will be too uncomfortable to shift around with luggage and packing of all sorts with a huge belly and a number of new symptoms cropping up. Find an area that is close to a good daycare facility. You will need it the most if both you and your wife continue to work after the baby is born.
Help her with her maternity plan. If she wants to continue to work, then there is no issue at all but if she wants to quit, hold her hand through it. Financial independence is difficult to give up but pregnancy hormones can make you feel beyond exhausted. Trust her to take the right decisions.
Contribute in your own special way to the 23rd week of pregnancy. Buy her flowers, play her favorite music, stir up a mocktail that she loves and spend a beautiful; evening together. If you are unaware of the changes taking place inside her, talk to her about them. She should always have an idea that you are comfortable with her body so that body image stereotyping never gets to her. Let her know time and again that she is doing the most important job of her life and you are ever so thankful to her for making this happen.