Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

group of pregnant women
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

2nd trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From staying fit in pregnancy to advice on your maternity rights, you'll find it all here.

Week 22 – your 2nd trimester

Welcome to week 22 of your pregnancy. This is a good week to talk to your bump, sing to it, caress it with moisturiser and you might even feel a little flutter in response. It's all part of bonding with your unborn baby who, as you can probably tell, is getting bigger by the day.

What's happening in my body?

You may start noticing stretch marks appearing on your skin. Stretch marks are common in pregnancy, they look like lines or streaks on your skin. They usually appear on your tummy, upper thighs or breasts. Stretch marks are harmless and usually fade after the birth. Read more about what causes stretch marks on the NHS website.

Piles in pregnancy

Piles (haemorrhoids) are swellings inside or around your bottom. Symptoms can include itching or soreness around your anus, and it can be painful when passing a stool (poo).

Find out how to ease piles in pregnancy on the NHS website.

Get help to quit smoking

Cigarettes starve your baby of oxygen and increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and cot death. You're at a crucial stage now, as your baby's lungs are developing. Talk to your doctor or midwife about your local NHS Stop Smoking Services or call the NHS Smokefree helpline (9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday) on 0300 123 1044.

Have a look at Better Health for more support options.

2nd trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 22 weeks)

Aches and pains are common in pregnancy, but sometimes it's hard to know what's serious. If you have any concerns, talk to your midwife or doctor, or call NHS 111. If you are in severe pain, or bleeding from your vagina, call your midwife or GP immediately.

This week, your pregnancy symptoms could include:

You may also experience symptoms from earlier weeks, such as:

Read Tommy's guide to common pregnancy symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is around 27.8cm long from head to toe and weighs about 430g. That's approximately the size of a papaya and the weight of 5 tangerines.

The lungs are developing and your little one will be doing some breathing practice in your womb. Your baby is now swallowing small amounts of the amniotic fluid. This will usually stay in the bowels and then come out after the birth as a dark, sticky poo ('meconium').

Your baby's taste buds are developing and could be influenced by what you eat. Try to eat healthily and include lots of fresh fruit and veg.

Action stations

How are you feeling? It's important that you prioritise your wellbeing (mentally as well as physically) during pregnancy. Tommy's has lots of tips to help you relax. You can also create a pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan to help look after yourself and be prepared for when your baby arrives.

This week you could also...

You don't have to tell your employer for several more weeks, but as soon as you do, you will have maternity rights. You can attend antenatal appointments during paid work time. You can also ask for a risk assessment of your work place. If you want to wait, then the latest you can leave it is 15 weeks before the baby is due, which is around week 25.

It's a good time to tone up your pelvic floor muscles. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze or cough. Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a wee and then stopping midflow. Visit Tommy's for more ideas about pelvic floor exercises.

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

Even if you've had children before, they're still worth going to as you can meet other parents-to-be. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on tea, coffee and anything else with caffeine. Ask your midwife or GP for support if you need it.

To keep bones and muscles healthy, we need vitamin D. From late March/early April to the end of September, most people make enough vitamin D from sunlight on their skin. However, between October and early March, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement because we cannot make enough from sunlight.

Some people should take a vitamin D supplement all year round, find out if this applies to you on the NHS website. You just need 10 micrograms (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). Check if you're entitled to free vitamins.

It's recommended that you do 150 minutes of exercise a week while pregnant. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

There's no need to eat for 2. You don't need any extra calories until the third trimester, which starts in week 28. Try and eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

You and your family should follow the government and NHS guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • read government guidance on how to stay safe from COVID-19
  • get NHS advice about COVID-19
  • use the NHS COVID-19 app for England and Wales – it's the fastest way of knowing when you've been exposed to COVID-19
  • To find out about about COVID-19 and pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, have a look at advice on the:

  • NHS website
  • Breastfeeding Network
  • World Health Organization
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