Welcome to Week 22! You’re now past the halfway mark, which hopefully has you feeling like you’re an old pro at this pregnancy thing (unless this isn’t your first baby, in which case you really might be a pro at it!). These are still the easy weeks, when the side effects are hopefully kept to a minimum, your energy is good, and you can still get around and maybe even see your feet while standing up every so often.
Have you noticed that every time you seem to adjust to one annoying symptom, another one crops up? Just as you get used to the lower back pain and have managed to find a steady supply of back rubs, your feet suddenly seem to grow gigantic or constipation really kicks in. Maybe your legs start cramping.
Pregnancy can be like that, and for most of these symptoms, the best thing you can do is take good care of yourself. Drinking plenty of water and getting exercise can help with your sleep, the cramping and dizziness, and constipation. Eating a good diet based on vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, with plenty of small meals, can help with the indigestion and heartburn.
And what about sex? This is a very common question for women and their partners, but there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. First off, from a physical point of view, there’s nothing to prevent sexual intimacy during a normal, healthy pregnancy, including intercourse. As long as the amount of direct weight placed on your belly is limited, it won’t hurt the baby. However, if you have any of the following factors, your healthcare provider might recommend avoiding sex or limit your activities:
- A history of miscarriage, preterm labor, or premature birth
- Vaginal bleeding that is more than spotting
- Cervical incompetence
- Placenta previa, or a misplaced placenta in the uterus
Also, remember that while you can’t get pregnant (for obvious reasons), you still can catch sexually transmitted diseases, some of which can be harmful to your baby. If you have any questions at all, it’s best to use a barrier-type of birth control, such a condom.
But of course sex isn’t all about the physical side of it—and that’s fine too. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Some women become as hormonal as teenagers, while others can’t stand the thought of sex. It’s perfectly okay to feel whatever you’re feeling. Just communicate with your partner and look for other ways to experience closeness.
Your baby’s fetal age is now 20 weeks. This is a big week in fetal development for many babies: they cross the 1 lb. mark in weight! And while this varies, your baby’s crown-to-rump length is about 7 inches, making your baby the size of a large acorn squash.
Developmentally, the last few weeks have been huge, with major leaps forward in large-scale organ systems like the skeleton and nervous system and continued development in smaller organs like the pancreas (which produces hormones) and liver. From here, the major development will slow and it’ll be time to fill in the details. Right around now, for example, your baby’s eyelashes and eyebrows are filling in, and she or he is growing thicker hair on top of the head. The fingerprints and fingernails will grow and become more permanent. And the sensory systems will continue to become more refined.
Your baby is still obviously highly dependent on you, but he or she is really beginning to road test their own equipment. The fetal bone marrow is now rapidly producing red blood cells, while the liver is working to clear the bloodstream of dead blood cells (this is one component of the meconium). Similarly, the heart is now pumping gallons of blood a day and the intestinal tract is fully operational, even though it will be weeks until it’s needed.
“If genital herpes are present when you go into labor, you will need to deliver by C-section to avoid passing it your baby.”
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018