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 23 – your 2nd 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 good start by boosting their immunity so they can fight off infections. Find out more about breastfeeding.

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.

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 4-star UVA protection
  • apply a thick layer of suncream to all exposed skin

Find out more about sun safety.

2nd trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 23 weeks)

It is really important to look after your mental health before, during and after pregnancy. Tommy’s has created a tool to help you make a wellbeing plan online. It will help you start thinking about how you feel emotionally and what support your might need in your pregnancy and after the birth.

This week, your signs of pregnancy could also 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 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.

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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.

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 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 the 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 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 keep it to yourself – it's important that you ask for help if you need it.

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
  • 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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