23rd – Twenty-third week of pregnancy

You are now in the sixth month of your pregnancy, and your baby already looks like a tiny person. If you were to give birth at 23 weeks, your baby already has some chance of survival. In fact, with proper medical attention, about 25% to 35% of babies born this week survive .

Do you have the list of things to buy for the baby ready? If you haven’t done it yet, the article we have specially written about  accessories for newborns may be useful to guide you .

Baby development in the 23rd week of pregnancy

the external appearance of the fetus

Your baby is almost the same as it will be when it is born, with its face almost fully developed and all external organs and body parts in their correct place.

His blubber continues to develop and day by day he gets plumper  , although, at this stage his skin layer grows faster than his blubber layer, making him look a little saggy and wrinkled .

At the same time, its veins and arteries developing just under the skin, give it a reddish tint that will then gradually fade as the fat layer grows further.

This is also the week that the protective layer of keratin begins to develop, so as your baby grows inside the womb, your baby’s skin may become thicker .

the development of internal organs

Her lungs are now preparing for breathing after birth, as capillaries and pneumocytes (specialized lung cells) are starting to form  .

In the meantime, the vestibular system matures and becomes active, which is the part of the brain that helps perceive movements: in fact, the child can already perceive your movements  .

the development of sensory organs

In week 23, the tiny bones in his inner ear continue to mature, improving your baby’s hearing and balance .

Some research has found that your baby is more likely now less bothered by sounds than they were in the womb (for example, the dog barking or the doorbell ringing)  .

fetal movements

Thanks to the development of his muscles and nervous system, his kicks and punches are getting so hard that you may even see a small hand or foot pressing from inside your abdomen! 

Another interesting thing you may notice is your baby’s sleep-wake pattern, as they probably already have one. It is common for children to be quiet during the day, and more active at night. However, in this period the whole of his movements could also be unpredictable.

the size of the child

The child has grown to measure about 28-29 centimeters from head to ankles: he is the size of a large mango fruit  . Think around 450 grams .

The changes in the woman’s body

Your baby bump continues to grow, while the hormone relaxin continues to loosen your joints and muscles, making you feel more awkward by the day  .

During this week the uterus reaches up about 4 inches above your belly button  .

The symptoms of morning sickness, diarrhea and food cravings have probably been replaced by a new range of discomforts.

However, there is nothing to worry about if the early signs of pregnancy persist, or if you think you have more belly than normal, as every pregnancy is unique, and every baby has a different growth rate.

Many women note in this phase a constant weight gain – about half a kilogram per week.

This extra weight is needed to provide the fetus with all the necessary nutrients, and you will also need it later, when you breastfeed it .

Your overall weight gain – over the entire pregnancy,

  • it should range from 10 to 15 kilograms;
  • from 15 to 20 in the case of twin pregnancy;
  • in the case of an overweight pregnancy, about 5-10 kilograms 

The ultrasound at the 23rd week

Your blood pressure should be monitored regularly at prenatal visits, as pregnancy increases your risk of high blood pressure and preeclampsia  .

If you have a history of diabetes, your doctor may also ask you to take a blood test, to look for any abnormalities in your blood sugar.

An ultrasound performed this week shows your baby, resembling a small doll, sucking his thumb and moving his arms and legs.

Some couples opt for a 3D or 4D ultrasound to see their baby in more detail. However, these are quite expensive, and you may not even get the desired result if your baby was in the best position at the time of the shoot .

The signs and symptoms of the twenty-third week

In this week it is a common fact that a pregnant woman may have,

  • an increase in appetite;
  • indigestion, bloating and bloating 
  • joint, hip and back pain;
  • a pain in the round ligament of the uterus;
  • leg cramps;
  • dry, itchy skin, with or without rashes (especially around the belly, back, and breasts) 
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • fluid retention and swelling (oedema), especially in the hands and feet (due to pregnancy hormones and increased blood volume) 
  • swollen and/or bleeding gums
  • a shortness of breath, with pain in the lower ribs (due to the growing uterus putting pressure on the bones);
  • of mood swings, anxiety, depression and unexplained crying
  • dark spots on the face (pregnancy mask) and other skin areas;
  • numb or tingling fingers (due to swelling putting pressure on your nerves) 
  • sleep disorders (insomnia) 
  • frequent urination and occasional leakage of urine .

Signs and symptoms to watch out for

Particular attention must be paid,

  • any type of bleeding, even specks with or without symptoms such as, abdominal pain, back pain, nausea, or pelvic pressure 
  • a large, watery, odorless, straw-colored or clear discharge (may indicate amniotic fluid leakage) 
  • excessive vaginal discharge that is yellow and gelatinous or white and thick, along with burning when urinating, lower back pain, or period-like cramping (could indicate complications such as thrush 
  • constant headaches, associated with extreme tiredness, vision changes, sudden swelling of the ankles and feet, palpitations and shortness of breath (could indicate preeclampsia) .

Some tips for a peaceful pregnancy and a healthy baby

Some useful tips for you and your baby:

  • loosen your hands and fingers frequently, especially if your job involves prolonged computer use, as this helps reduce the tingling sensation;
  • also make sure that when you are working your elbows are never higher than your hands 
  • read something aloud to your baby as this helps him to relax and get used to your voice; classical music also helps him relax 
  • if you have to travel, consult your doctor for information on necessary vaccinations and sunscreens
  • practice relaxation techniques such as light stretching, light physical exercises, prenatal yoga ;
  • follow a diet that is rich in fiber, vitamins, iron, calcium and folic acid;
  • Drink plenty of water and fruit juices, or eat fresh vegetables to stay well hydrated and to help reduce constipation, headaches, fluid retention and even hemorrhoids .
  • lie on your side (preferably on the left), as lying on your back or stomach reduces the blood supply to the placenta: a pillow placed between your legs when you lie down can give more support to your knees, allowing you to sleep better .

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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