Week-by-week guide to pregnancy
Week 26 – your second trimester
For a few weeks, pregnancy seemed so easy didn't it? You felt great and had loads of energy… remember? However as we approach the third trimester, you might be feeling more tired, and a bit more clumsy and uncoordinated. That's understandable. It's hard carrying around all that 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 cut yourself a bit more slack!
What's happening in my body?
There's a lot of activity going on inside your bump – kicking, punching, somersaults, hiccupping… Get to know your baby's patterns, and if you're worried that the movements have slowed down or stopped, then contact your midwife or maternity unit straight away. Have a look at the NHS website for information on your baby's movements during pregnancy.
You may be getting more leg cramps now, particularly during the night when you really want to sleep. Try doing foot and ankle exercises. Just pulling your toes upwards could help, or rubbing the muscle where it hurts.
Do you have 'baby brain'?
Are you getting a bit more… what's the word… forgetful? If you keep losing your keys, and then finding them in the fridge, then you could have what some people refer to as 'baby brain' or 'mumnesia'. This isn't a medical condition, or scientifically proven, it's just something that some pregnant women report. It's probably caused by tiredness and having lots of things on your mind.
Make life easy for yourself – write lists, set reminders, and keep keys in the same place. Also just accept that if you're juggling loads of things at once, then occasionally you'll drop the odd ball.
Surrogacy and you
Are you having a baby for another couple? If you're a surrogate, then you can be paid 'reasonable expenses' by the couple you've made the arrangement with. You also have the right to change your mind and keep the baby, even if it's not genetically yours. You've got until after the birth to make your decision. Remember that…
- The 'father' will have equal rights with you, if you put his name on the birth certificate.
- When the baby is six weeks old, the couple might ask you to agree in writing to a 'parental order'. If this is issued, then you will lose your legal rights over the baby.
- They can't apply for a parental order once the baby is over 6 months. Find out more about surrogacy.
Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 26 weeks)
You might feel like hibernating now. We know that it's tempting to slump on the sofa with a packet of biscuits, but fight the urge – you'll feel so much better if you go for a walk and eat healthily instead.
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')
- bloating and constipation
- indigestion and heartburn
- leg cramps](/start4life/pregnancy/week-by-week/2nd-trimester/week-20 “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 35.6cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 760g. That's approximately the size of small marrow, and the weight of six 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. The eyes will probably be blue now, but that could easily change. 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 won't 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's three.
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 and if you're worried about your safety at work, then talk to your employer. You shouldn't be lugging anything around, 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 those muscles 'down under'. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby's 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 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 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
Feeing hot? Stock up on lollies and you've got it licked! Look for lollies made from 100% fruit juice as they'll count towards your 5 A Day. Or pour fruit juice into ice cube trays, freeze, and then drop into drinks.
During pregnancy, your body gets hotter than usual. That's due to your hormones, the increase in your weight, and the extra blood that's rushing around. It's easy to overheat, so make sure you stay cool when the temperature soars.