24th – Twenty-fourth week of pregnancy

As in the previous weeks you are gaining weight, gaining about 0.36-0.45 kg per week to support the pregnancy (if you start from a normal weight). Make sure your diet is balanced, and take supplements recommended by your doctor such as folic acid and other vitamins.

The development of the fetus in the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy

brain development

At this stage, the brain activity of the fetus is about the same as that of the average newborn, as its nerve cells have developed enough to allow for conscious thought—probably memory as well.

The development of internal organs

The fetus’s lungs are now preparing to breathe in oxygen instead of liquid.

This through a gradual development of cells and branches for the production of a mixture of phospholipids and lipoproteins called pulmonary surfactant (a complex of surfactant substances which coats the surface of the pulmonary alveoli).

Once your baby is breathing, this will play a vital role in allowing the lungs to inflate smoothly.

The development of the sensory organs

His developing sense of hearing, coupled with his maturing brain, allows him to hear and memorize familiar sounds, like your voice or a song.

Some studies have shown that newborns can recognize songs they heard when they were in the womb.

In week 24, the development of the inner ear (which controls balance) is almost complete, allowing your baby to feel as if he is floating in the amniotic fluid, whether upright or upside down.

Though her lids are still sealed. The major parts of the eye, including the irises and retinas, are already in place.

However, her irises aren’t pigmented yet; while his retina will fully mature within another month.

Since he can’t see yet, the baby now uses his little hands and feet to practice his sense of touch.

At the same time, his taste buds continue to grow.

The outward appearance

By the 24th week the baby’s face is now fully formed, with eyebrows, eyelashes and hair which are however still white in the absence of pigmentation.

His skin slowly becomes duller as the layer of fat develops beneath it.

Fetal movements

You may feel an increase in fetal movements as babies are usually most active between 24 and  28 weeks  and as their size increases in the womb.

However, if you were pregnant with twins, your babies already had more limited space.

By this week, most babies are starting to respond to external sounds: for example, calming down with soothing music, or becoming more active with loud noises.

How big is the fetus

The child is growing, and has now become almost as big as an ear of corn: it is about 30 centimeters long and weighs approximately 600 grams.

The changes in the woman’s body

Now, the highest point of the uterus can be felt about 5cm above the navel.

As your belly grows, the skin around your belly, back and breasts stretches considerably, leading to stretch marks and itching.

Small pimple-like bumps called Montgomery tubercles may develop on the areolae of the breasts, secreting an oily substance to protect the nipples.

You may also notice a yellowish liquid coming out of your breasts (colostral-like fluid), as your body continues to produce colostrum in preparation for breastfeeding.

The ultrasound at the 24th week

Your doctor may order a blood sugar test or an oral glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes, like other types of diabetes, means that the patient is no longer able to regulate blood glucose levels. It is thought to occur in about 18% of pregnant women as a result of hormonal changes, but science still disagrees. Because excessive glucose levels are toxic, it is important to detect the presence of this disorder during the second trimester.

This screening test is generally performed between the twenty-fourth and twenty-eighth week of pregnancy: but even earlier for women who have a high risk of this condition.

In fact, the increased levels of pregnancy hormones raise the chances of high blood sugar, especially during the final months.

You may also be ordered to take a urinalysis to check the levels of ketones in your urine if you are at high risk.

An ultrasound performed this week will show that your baby’s skin is becoming dull due to the fat that is forming: you will therefore no longer be able to see his blood vessels and internal organs as they grow.

Signs and symptoms in the 24th week of pregnancy

You may be subject to the following ailments this week:

  • Indigestion, heartburn and constipation;
  • Braxton Hicks contractions;
  • black line
  • Swelling or edema in the arms and legs;
  • Dry, itchy eyes, sensitive to light;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Leg cramps;
  • Pain in the back, joints, ribs and hips;
  • Stretch marks, especially on the abdomen, breasts and hips;
  • Runny or congested nose;
  • Feeling dizzy or faint when you get up too quickly from a sitting or lying position, as the increased blood volume slows blood circulation, temporarily lowering blood pressure;
  • Depression and mood swings;
  • Itchy rash (a kind of pregnancy hives) on the belly, thighs and back;
  • Dark spots on some areas of the skin and skin tags.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for

Particular attention should be paid to the following symptoms:

  • any vaginal bleeding, including spotting, associated with menstrual-like cramps or dull pain in the lower back, a feeling of pressure in the pelvic area, diarrhoea, uterine contractions or a faint discharge of clear fluid as a combination of these symptoms could indicate a premature birth;
  • to persistent headaches with extreme tiredness, sudden changes in vision, sudden swelling of the ankles and feet, upper stomach pain and shortness of breath (could indicate preeclampsia  ) .
  • a combination of symptoms including intense fatigue, extreme thirst, intense nausea, vision problems and increased urination (could indicate gestational diabetes);
  • abdominal pain on one side only, pain when urinating, blood in the urine and urinary tract infections (could indicate the development of kidney stones, as this risk increases during pregnancy);
  • a burning sensation when urinating, together with pain in the lower back and a gelatinous and yellowish or thick and white discharge (could indicate a kidney infection or candidiasis);
  • light spotting bleeding, light stomach cramps, pelvic pressure and a change in vaginal discharge (may indicate cervical insufficiency or an opening of the cervix);
  • intense vomiting and diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours.

Some useful tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby

It may be useful to you,

  • use over-the-counter eye drops (after consulting your doctor) to combat dry and itchy eyes;
  • keep your feet up when you sit, as this helps reduce swelling;
  • follow a “routine” of light physical exercises (short daily walks) or prenatal yoga, as these activities help you maintain correct posture, fight the “normal” symptoms of the second trimester of pregnancy such as back pain and edema  , and to prepare your body for labor and delivery;
  • start keeping a diary of your baby’s movements;
  • sleeping on your left side , as it improves your circulation, in fact, sleeping on your back reduces the flow of blood to the placenta due to the pressure on the large veins;
  • consult your doctor before using products such as stretch mark creams, moisturizers or hair dyes (although most of the latter are considered safe after the first  trimester of pregnancy ).

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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