Week-by-week guide to pregnancy
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 24 – your second trimester
Here's some incredible, stop-the-press news – your baby is now considered 'viable' which means they could survive if they were born right now and given the right support. Obviously an early arrival is not what anybody wants, but it's good to know that your baby would be in with a fighting chance.
What's happening in my body?
You may start to feel really hungry, but you don't actually need to eat any more until the third trimester of your pregnancy – that's from week 28 onwards. You're likely to be putting on weight, but do not worry if you can barely see your bump, as every pregnancy is different. Your midwife or doctor will tell you if everything's coming along nicely. Do not listen to friends or family telling you that you look too big or too small. Chances are, you're just right for you!
Many women find it hard to give up alcohol. As you start to feel yourself again, it's tempting to slide back into your pre-pregnancy ways and turn to your favourite tipples.
Just remember that:
- alcohol goes to your baby too
- there are no 'safe' limits – so it's best to drink no alcohol at all
- the risks for your baby include miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, learning difficulties and behavioural problems
Ask your midwife or doctor to help you cut back, or get in touch with an alcohol support network.
Try these simple swaps…
- try alcohol-free lager or wine instead
- swap spirits for non-alcoholic spirits - just add ice, a slice, and your favourite mixer
- have a go at making a mocktail - here are some easy mocktail recipes created by Drinkaware
Have you had your jabs?
Have you had a whooping cough jab yet? It's usually offered to pregnant women between 16 and 32 weeks. Whooping cough can kill, and it's on the increase, but this free vaccination could protect your baby during the first few weeks of their life. It's very safe for you and your baby. Have a chat to your midwife or doctor if you have not already.
Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 24 weeks)
Week by week, as your pregnancy progresses, you could be developing strange new symptoms. Around now, you could be getting pains around your ribs, back, breasts, bottom, stomach… basically anywhere and everywhere! This is partly due to your pregnancy hormones loosing up your ligaments and muscles, and also due to that growing baby of yours pushing onto various parts of your body.
This week, your signs of pregnancy could include:
- tiredness and sleeping problems
- stretch marks
- swollen and bleeding gums
- pains on the side of your baby bump, caused by your expanding womb ('round ligament pains')
- indigestion and heartburn
- bloating and constipation
- leg cramps
- feeling hot
- swollen hands and feet
- urine infections
- vaginal infections
- darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
- greasier, spotty skin
- thicker and shinier hair
- symptoms from earlier weeks, caused by pregnancy hormones, such as mood swings, morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, sore or leaky breasts, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)
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 30cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 600g. That's approximately the size of an ear of corn, and the weight of a big tub of low fat cottage cheese.
Your baby looks like… well… a baby. Everything is in proportion, they're just skinnier and smaller than a baby who's been in the womb for longer.
The amazing news is that there's a chance of survival if your baby is born now. Their lungs and other vital organs might just be able to cope with life outside the womb. There are specialist neonatal units for very tiny babies that can help them breathe, feed, keep warm and fight infections. However the earlier the baby is born, the more likely it is that they will have a disability. If you go into labour before your 37th week of pregnancy, it's called premature labour. However it's much more likely that you'll have to wait at least another three months before meeting your baby.
Have you thought about writing a birth plan yet? This sets out what you would ideally like to happen during the birth and after your baby is born. Find out how to make a birth plan and download a birth plan template. Talk to your partner, family, midwife or doctor… but bear in mind that your baby could have strong ideas too!
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 now. 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 work place.
It's a good time to tone up those muscles 'down under'. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your baby's future trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a wee and then stop the 'urine' in midflow. Visit Tommys.org 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.
We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but as we are at home a lot more at the moment, you may not be getting enough. If you're pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. 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 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.
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 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!
Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind! However now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born. Making this decision when you're pregnant will give you one less thing to think about when you're looking after a newborn baby. Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems. Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide and get everything in place.
This week's treat
Your hair is probably doing crazy things right now – going straighter, or curlier, or looking limper or fuller, thanks to your hormones working overtime. Why not treat yourself to a new hair care product? It needn't be expensive as the supermarkets do great ranges. Or try making your own conditioner to add shine. After shampooing, rub a tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil into your hair, focusing on the ends. Leave for a minute then rinse well. Ta da!