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!

Second 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. Happy reading!

Week 23 – your second trimester

Week by week, you're hitting new milestones in your pregnancy as your baby prepares for life outside the womb. Around this time, your baby is practising breathing, and getting into patterns of sleeping and waking.

What's happening in my body?

Your breasts may start leaking colostrum, which is an early type of milk. Breast milk gives your baby a flying start by boosting their immunity so they can fight off infections. Find out more about breastfeeding. It might help to involve your partner too.

This week, you may start to get rib pain as your rib cage expands to accommodate your bump. You could be feeling a bit more breathless than usual as the growing baby puts pressure on your lungs. The best remedy is to put your feet up and relax. If you're worried about any symptoms of pregnancy, talk to your midwife or doctor.

Beyond the pale: staying sun safe

Did you know that even on a cloudy day, your skin could burn? Unfortunately, this is more likely to happen when you're pregnant, as your skin is more sensitive. Cover up and head for the shade if you're going outdoors when the sun is at its strongest. That's between 11am and 3pm, from March to October. Remember to:

  • choose a high-factor suncream (15+) with at least four-star UVA protection
  • apply a thick layer to all exposed skin

Find out more about sun safety.

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 23 weeks)

No matter how excited you are about having a baby, anxiety might be creeping in as your bump gets bigger. Try taking the NHS mood self assessment quiz, which helps you work out how you're feeling. If you're getting mood swings or feeling stressed, talk to your midwife or doctor. Take along a printout of your mood quiz results.

This week, your signs of pregnancy could also include:

Tommy's, the baby charity, has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is around 28.9cm long from head to heel and weighs about 500g. That's approximately the size of a squash and the weight of a packet of wholewheat dried pasta.

Your baby's limbs are now in proportion. Over the next few weeks, you're going to be kicked around by your baby and will start to see your tummy move too, which looks very strange. Get to know your baby's rhythms and talk to your midwife if the kicking slows down. Have a look at Tommy's guide to baby movements in pregnancy.

Action stations

Are you drinking lots of tea and coffee? This week, why not make a real effort to swap your cuppas for alternatives such as smoothies and fruit teas. It is recommended that you should have no more than 200mg each day. That's not much, when you consider that...

  • a mug of tea has around 75mg
  • a cup of instant coffee has around 100mg
  • a can of cola has about 40mg
  • a 50g bar of milk chocolate has up to 10mg

You can check your caffeine intake with Tommy's Caffeine Calculator.

This week you could also...

It's about time to break the news, if you haven't already. The latest you can leave it is 15 weeks before the baby is due, which is around week 25. As soon as you tell your employer, you will have maternity rights and can attend antenatal appointments during paid work time. You can also ask for a risk assessment of your workplace.

It's a good time to tone up those muscles "down under". 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 stopping midflow. Visit Tommy's for more ideas.

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.

Ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. 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 the cappuccinos. We know that's easy to say but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but between October and March it's best to take a vitamin D supplement every day. Just 10 micrograms is all you need (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. 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.

Don't eat for two! Eat for you. You don't need any extra calories until the third trimester, which starts in week 28. Try to 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.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, talk to your doctor or midwife who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it.

Losing a baby

Sadly, not all pregnancies go to plan, and some women and their partners have to cope with the tragic loss of their baby. Before 24 weeks, it's called a miscarriage. After that, it's a stillbirth. This can be a huge shock, but there are trained people who can support you through grief after bereavement or loss.

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