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!
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 26 – your 2nd trimester

As you approach the 3rd trimester, you might be feeling more tired, and a bit more clumsy and uncoordinated. That's understandable. It's hard carrying around extra weight and also your centre of gravity will have changed with your growing bump, and that affects your sense of balance. You may need to allow yourself more time to do your usual activities, like your daily walk to the bus stop. It's important to stay active but your body's changing all the time, so be patient with yourself.

What's happening in my body?

There is a lot of activity going on inside your bump at the moment. Read about your baby's movements during pregnancy on the NHS website.

If you're worried that the movements have slowed down or stopped, contact your midwife or maternity unit straight away.

You may be getting more leg cramps now, particularly during the night. Try doing foot and ankle exercises. Just pulling your toes upwards could help, or rubbing the muscle where it hurts.

"Baby brain"

Are you getting a bit more forgetful? If you keep losing your keys, then you could have what some people refer to as "baby brain". This is not a medical condition, or scientifically proven, it's just something that some pregnant women report. It could be caused by tiredness and having a lot on your mind.

2nd trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 26 weeks)

This week, your signs of pregnancy 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 35.6cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 760g. That's approximately the size of small marrow, and the weight of 6 large carrots.

Around now, your baby's eyes will be opening for the first time and the next trick will be to learn how to blink. It's a myth that all babies are born with blue eyes – the colour will depend on the parents' genetics, and brown is very common.

You will not know the permanent colour for a while, as they can keep on changing right into adulthood. However they will have probably settled on a colour by the time your baby is aged 3.

Action stations

Check out what benefits you're entitled to, as you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance from now on. This is usually paid out if you don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. Find out what benefits you and your partner could claim.

This week you could also...

You have maternity rights. You can ask for a risk assessment of your work place to ensure that you're working in a safe environment. You should not be lifting heavy things and you may need extra breaks and somewhere to sit. You can also attend antenatal appointments during paid work time.

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.

Get moving! 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 schemeEmotional and mental wellbeing.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then 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.

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. 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.

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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