Are you and your partner having squabbles every day? Is a normal date night turning into a nightmare because of reasons you could never imagine occurring between the two of you? Welcome yourself into the 22nd week of pregnancy that is filled with surprises of all kinds! As your baby marks new milestones, you might start focusing completely on yourself and your interests. What most expectant couples forget to remind themselves of is the fact that this pregnancy involves both the partners and their contribution. It’s the duty of dishwashing one day and laundry the other; if you are the pregnant spouse, feel free to make him see the situation in a better light and if you are the husband, start owning responsibilities before the baby is here so that you know your way around the house. Apart from solving trifles, there are incredible things to look forward to this week as your baby is literally growing by leaps and bounds and your pregnancy is not news to anyone around you anymore.
Your Baby At 22 Weeks
11 inches long and weighing a little more than a pound, your baby finally resembles the little doll you had imagined her to be. If you want to know what exactly she feels like, you could take a look at a spaghetti squash and imagine how big she would be. She looks a lot like that newborn baby you had always dreamt of; only more adorable and more life-like. Your baby’s eyes are already formed but what is missing in action is the color of the iris that will come in later; hazel eye maybe? The tiny pearly whites that will nibble at apples and gnaw at your cheeks are all present under the gum. It will take 8-9 months after birth for you to be able to see them. Trust me; the gummy smiles are the best!
Your baby’s eyelids, lips and eyebrows had already formed in the earlier weeks but they continue to develop into more distinctive features this week. What else is happening with your little one? The fine hair that covers her body to protect the skin from the amniotic fluid is still there. This hair is called the lanugo1 and will shed off considerably before birth. His skin will also have some deep wrinkle like formations which are present because there is not much fat under the skin yet. Yet another significant development this week is your baby’s pancreas that will be responsible for the production of essential hormones later.
Sense Of Touch!
Your baby is gradually beginning to sense the world around her and this development begins with her sense of touch. She will start practicing her grips and the only thing that she can get hold of this week would be the umbilical cord and you might as well feel tugging and pulling inside your womb often. Although it is still quite dark for your baby inside the womb, your baby’s sense of sight has definitely improved over the past few weeks. She will be able to differentiate between light and darkness more easily because now and if you happen to flash a light at her, she will able to sense that even with her eyelids fused.
There are a number of things that your baby can now sense and they include your voice, your partner’s voice, your stomach’s gurgling sound, your blood circulating through your body etc. These sounds generally tend to lull her to sleep and you will not feel your baby too active when you are involved in work. She will try all her moves when you are resting or trying to fall asleep but all you will feel is insurmountable love for those nudges and kicks.
Your Body At 22 Weeks Of Pregnancy
It is normal to feel anxious about how big or small your baby bump is but you need to know that every pregnancy is different and babies also grow differently in the womb. While this is true, you will also need to consider that there is a certain range of normal developments that your baby needs to follow. At every prenatal visit, your doctor will check your baby’s growth rate and if her developments are on track.
Now is the time when your baby bump will attract more people to try and touch your tummy but it is up to you to decide and let them know that you are not comfortable. A lot of women don’t mind but a lot do too. If you feel freaked out by strangers trying to place a hand on your tummy because it looks adorable and they might also want to feel the baby move, firmly move away and let them know that you are not sure about it.
Your stretch marks continue to grow deeper and more noticeable. They will also spread far and wide because your body is growing every day to accommodate the newest member on the block. So what looked like reddish streaks on your abdomen and thighs would now show up on your breasts and buttocks. Keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized is the only way you can prevent the itchiness. As mentioned earlier, it is impossible to get rid of stretch marks completely although they will fade away after delivery.
Is Your Foot Size Going Up?
As weird as it may sound, your feet size might really be going up and even if you might need to make an effort to look down with your belly in between, you will notice the difference easily. If you thought your tummy was the only thing that has been growing, think again. A lot of pregnant women end up with bigger feet and that size does not change after pregnancy. It might not be something that you were looking forward to if you have recently invested in an expensive pair of shoes. However, it is recommended that you do not continue to wear undersized shoes because not only will your feet feel cramped but there will also be a slight tendency to fall. Invest in a comfortable pair because your feet are the ones that are carrying around all the weight and they need to be looked after properly.
Why do your feet grow in pregnancy? This is a pertinent question that a lot of pregnant women ask themselves often, especially if they are looking down at feet that look bigger than they ever thought they could get. The first reason that is responsible for the increase in size is edema or swelling of your feet and ankles. Edema could be triggered at any time in the second trimester and could cause considerable pain and discomfort. It is responsible for your feet size to go up and even if it does not really increase the size, it could make you look for more comfortable shoes instead of the fancy ones you have been sporting all your life.
The other reason for your feet size to go up is the pregnancy hormone relaxin2 that has been responsible for all your joints and muscles to loosen up. This is an important function that the hormone plays because at the time of delivery, this will be required to loosen up your pelvis to let your baby pass through for an easy vaginal birth. This pregnancy hormone is not designed to discriminate between different parts of your body, which is why the hormone works in the same way everywhere. The ligaments of your feet loosen up and that results in the bones under them to spread out. This is what increases your shoes size.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Your body does not go into labor without prior preparation and if you have been feeling tightness around your tummy and a few irregular painless contractions don’t start panicking. These are known as Braxton Hicks contractions and even if they could make you feel slightly uncomfortable, they are generally harmless.
Braxton Hicks could strike at anytime during the day or night and will ideally last not more than a few seconds at 22 weeks. They will feel like your uterus is squeezing in and out but there is generally no pain associated with them. However, it is important to know the difference between a harmless contraction and preterm labor. Preterm labor is more intense and the contractions will not be as spaced out. They will be clustered together and there might also be some pain involved. If you happen to notice fluid leakage or spotting along with regular intense contractions, call up your doctor immediately and rush to the emergency.
If you have had preterm labor before, your doctor might want to test you for your chances this time. A fetal fibronectin screening can rule out your risks of having preterm labor. If you test negative for preterm labor, you will not need to worry about the slight contractions but if you test positive for it, your doctor will need to take up precautionary measures so that your baby can be kept inside the womb for as long as her vital organs are not developed enough to survive outside the uterus. A few doctors also try and prepare the baby’s lungs for rapid development if there is a chance that the mother might go into labor before the lungs are mature enough.
More Physical Changes On The Block!
Not only are your breasts and belly growing at a rapid pace but also other parts of your body. Your pregnancy hormones are changing your body in more ways than one and listed below are the other physical changes you will notice this week:
1. Is This My Body?
You could be asking yourself this question more than a couple of times in pregnancy because you could never imagine having so much hair on your limbs and frequent waxing is no longer on your list of priorities. You could also notice hair on your chin, upper lips, and cheeks; basically, your facial hair also increases, which you could start hating. However, you will be glad to know that that tweezing and threading are completely safe in pregnancy and you could get them done if your facial hair is not something you are looking forward to.
2. You Have Beautiful Hair!
Have you been hearing this compliment a lot lately? Owing to the increased blood production and circulation, your scalp is getting its much-needed nutrients and keeping them intact. So ideally, you are not growing more hair but losing lesser than you do. Although, outsiders would not know this and they would keep asking you about your hair care regime. Enjoy all the attention, I say! After your baby turns 3-4 months old, you will start losing hair all over again and postpartum hair fall could be scary unless you are prepared for it mentally.
3. Time To Cut Your Nails Again?
Wasn’t it yesterday that you had cut your nails and have they grown again? A lot of women find that pregnancy makes their nails grow rapidly and unless you are really pressed for time, there is no reason to not enjoy this phase. You could also notice that your nails are less brittle and stronger now. However, if you are not that lucky, you might have to face nails that are more brittle than ever before. You can keep your nails hydrated by using a hand and nail cream and could also wear gloves to keep your nails protected while washing dishes, peeling and chopping veggies and cooking because these are the times when your nails tend to chip off the most.
4. What Is It With The Glow?
Do you look more flushed all the time? Does it seem like you never really wipe off the blusher from your cheeks? You couldn’t obviously feel better when your neighbor or the folks at work keep complimenting you on your new found glow! The highly celebrated pregnancy glow is sought after by many but not everyone ends up with just glowing skin. Your skin is also producing more oil now which is why the glow is more prominent. If you feel that you could have acne outbursts anytime now, start preparing your skin by keeping it clean and fresh using a mild cleanser.
5. Pregnancy Induced Pigmentation
The mask of pregnancy is dreaded by many and could happen to you at any time in pregnancy and there is not much you can do about it. There are different ways in which melasma affects pregnant women. You could either have dark patchy skin or have a more even tone which is darker. Your body is producing more melanin and this is one of the reasons you get this sort of pigmentation. This will go away after you deliver but till then, you could use a proper sunscreen to keep your skin from getting further tanned. The sunscreen that you use needs to be of an SPF 30 or more so that it can effectively protect your skin.
6. Nipple Changes
Your nipples will grow bigger and darker in pregnancy. Along with that your areolas will also grow and darken. This is because your body is preparing your breasts for breastfeeding and the preparation starts way before you are about to deliver. Another change that would notice is that the little bumps around you areolas would become more pronounced and these are known as Montgomery’s tubercles3. These bumps produce oil that keeps your areolas lubricated and also helps in warding off bacteria. Did you know that your nipples are self-cleansing? You could avoid using soap or other harsh chemicals to keep it clean and that would also help you in avoiding dry and itchy nipples. Yes, there will be stretch marks on your breasts as well and the veins will become more prominent because if you look at the anatomy of pregnant women, you would understand that there is increased blood circulation to your breasts and the veins tend to bulge out because of the added volume.
Constipation In Pregnancy
A common symptom in the second trimester is constipation and it could literally jeopardize your life. If you are a working woman, you will find yourself visiting the washroom a number of times because your bowel movement is very irregular. Your growing bump is also responsible for not being able to poop at once. All these conditions make your gassy, bloated and you feel cranky all day.
Along with the pregnancy hormones that tend to make your digestion sluggish, your iron supplements are also to be blamed for this. You cannot bargain with the supplements but you can surely alter your diet and lifestyle to ease your bowel movement. There are a number of things that you could do. Listed below are few ways out:
Include Fiber Rich Food In Your Diet
Including whole grains is an excellent way to alter your diet and make your digestion easier. Adding leafy greens could possibly be the best thing that you could do but you need not necessarily eat raw and bland veggies. Blending them into quick smoothies with a tiny hint of spices would be as good and helpful. Try avoiding refined food as much as you can because they tend to constipate you even further.
Drink More Water
You already know that drinking more water is essential during pregnancy and if that could regulate your bowel movement, then there is nothing like it. Drinking water half an hour after meals can help your sluggish digestive system to pick up pace. You could also add prune juice or plum smoothies to your diet if you have been eyeing them for a while.
You can never undermine the benefits of exercising regularly in pregnancy. Not only does it open up new avenues to keep the aches and pains at bay but also makes it easier to gain weight at a normal pace. Brisk walking can keep your digestive system hale and hearty; irrespective of whether you are pregnant or not.
Take Laxatives If You Must
Exercising too much pressure while excreting could cause hemorrhoids and that is the last thing you would want in pregnancy. Hemorrhoids4 can be pretty painful and can give you sleepless nights. If you feel that your tendency to constipate is beyond diet and lifestyle modifications, consider talking to your doctor about it. He might recommend safe laxatives that will ease your pain.
Different Kinds Of Supplements
Not all iron supplements need to be constipating in nature. There are some alternatives like slow-release iron supplements that will not contribute to your bowel irregularity as much as their counterparts do. Your doctor would be the best person to recommend you as per the needs of your body.
How Can You Help Your Pregnant Spouse In The 22nd Week Of Pregnancy?
Your wife is probably dealing with edema, larger feet, skin discolorations, pigmentation, stretch marks, increased body hair, leg cramps and aching back all at the same time. The best thing that you could do is to stay by her side and keep her feeling loved and pampered all through. There is nothing that a loving massage and a dinner outside can’t put together. Ask her if she would be interested in watching a movie too because long hours in one place might not be comfortable. Have late night conversations if she is up for it and feel your baby’s kicks and nudges together. This is the phase where you two need to bond well because a newborn can take up a lot of space and time which often results in relationships and people drifting away from each other. Ensure that she is eating well and is taking all her supplements on time. Keep a check on her weight gain and ensure that she is well rested. Find out if her workplace is comfortable for her and if she does decide to quit, support her decision and back her up. This is the one of the best things you could do!