26th – Twenty-sixth week of pregnancy

By the twenty-sixth week you are at the end of the sixth month of pregnancy and about to enter the last trimester. The small changes that will occur in the fetus this week will help it have correct reflexes once it is born. According to a study of more than 2,000 pregnancies, babies born prematurely in this 26th week have about a 75 percent chance of surviving.

As for the symptoms of pregnancy, it must be said that you will probably be better now, but you need not worry if you still have terrible pelvic pain or if you have morning sickness, since (also) your pregnancy is unique and different from yours sister or your mother. In this regard: to defeat nausea I recommend the use of special anti-nausea bracelets.

The development of the fetus at the twenty-sixth week of pregnancy

the development of the immune system

As early as the 13th week, the fetus strengthens its immune system by absorbing antibodies from you. The antibodies will serve him to defend himself against external pathogens until he is able to develop his own.

The development of the sensory organs

The 26th week is considered a milestone, as the baby starts blinking with eyes that have been sealed shut for so many months during retinal development.

At the same time, the development of the nerves in his ears is almost complete, allowing him to hear you speak.

Growing brain wave activity

His brain activity is stabilizing, with a brain wave pattern similar at this stage to that of a “complete” newborn.

Aside from his increased activity level, his faster heart rate is a response to the noises and bumps he perceives on his belly.

The size of the fetus

In this week the fetus is about 35 centimeters long, from head to toe, and weighs about 760 grams: it is similar in size to a zucchini.

The movements of the fetus

His sleep-wake rhythms are becoming more accentuated: in fact he will probably be active at night after having rested during the day. His kicks and punches will (as in most cases) become more apparent when you try to rest. Some of these may even hurt you, since the baby is getting quite big. It is advisable to count the kicks during the day, so as to be able to immediately identify any decrease in them.

In a few weeks, your baby will start to feel a little cramped in the womb, with less room to somersault, but still has room to grow.

The belly, weight gain, and changes in women

During this week you can feel your uterus about 6cm above your belly button. From this period on, your belly will grow about 1cm per week.

If you have followed a healthy diet and lifestyle, you should have gained 8-10 pounds so far. For the months to come, the ideal weight gain is half a kilogram per week.

The uterus continues to expand, weakening your abdominal muscles, shifting your center of gravity, and putting pressure on certain nerves and ligaments, all of which aggravates any lower back and hip pain you may already have.

The ultrasound at the twenty-sixth week

Thanks to her developing nervous system, the fetus’s hand coordination is now steadily improving, and an ultrasound will show your baby constantly bringing her hands to her face 16 ) .

During this week you may be prescribed blood sugar tests, blood tests, antibody tests to rule out the possibility of  gestational diabetes  or to check the Rh factor.

Usually, a positive blood glucose test result must be followed by a glucose tolerance test to confirm or not a diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

The symptoms of the twenty-sixth week

This week you may have,

  • Braxton Hicks contractions ( your tummy gets hard and tight for a few seconds, then everything goes back to normal);
  • a pain in the round ligament of the uterus;
  • occasional difficulty breathing and pain under your ribs (as the growing child pushes and puts pressure on your rib cage;
  • a dysfunction of the pubic symphysis (the pubic symphysis is that cartilaginous joint that joins the right pubis to the left pubis);
  • leg cramps;
  • pain in the jaw, knee and other joints;
  • a swelling or edema in different parts of the body (mainly due to fluid retention);
  • a decline in memory, or “pregnancy brain” (structural changes in a woman’s brain);
  • bloating, bloating, and constipation;
  • indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn ;
  • depression and mood swings;
  • headaches and migraines (due to stress and pregnancy hormones);
  • dry itchy skin, especially around the belly, thighs and breasts
  • linea nigra  and stretch marks;
  • hot flushes (due to increased progesterone levels);
  • sleep problems (insomnia) and restless legs syndrome;
  • a loss of appetite and a metallic taste in the mouth (rare).

Symptoms to pay particular attention to

If any of the following symptoms are present, do not be alarmed and contact your doctor:

  • vaginal bleeding, even in small patches, along with considerable pain in the lower back, abdominal cramps, uterine contractions, clear watery discharge, and pressure in the pelvic area (all of which can be signs of a premature birth);
  • a development of lumps in the breast (although they are quite common in the third trimester, it is advisable in any case to inform the doctor);
  • pain or burning when urinating, accompanied by back pain, pressure in the lower abdomen, frequent urge to urinate; foul-smelling discharge that may be light yellow/gel-like or thick and white (could indicate urinary tract or kidney infections, or candidiasis);
  • one foot more swollen than the other or swelling on one side (could indicate a bleeding disorder);
  • severe diarrhea and/or vomiting lasting more than 24 hours;
  • a constant headache, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, light-headedness, sudden swelling (in the feet and ankles), stomach pain, severe nausea and vomiting, sudden changes in vision (these combined symptoms could indicate  preeclampsia ).
  • intense itching in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, without a rash (may indicate cholestasis of pregnancy, a rare liver disease);

Some useful tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby

Here are some tips that will certainly help you:

  • try to get plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet, as well as foods high in fiber (for example whole grains and cereals), foods rich in vitamin B (brown rice, lentils), as proper nutrition is vital for the brain development of the fetus, but also because fiber and vitamin B also help fight constipation;
  • include leafy vegetables in your daily diet – such as spinach, kale, corn and pumpkins – which are rich in lutein, an essential nutrient for eye health;
  • drink lots of water, because by eliminating excess fluids this helps you fight common pregnancy symptoms such as hot flashes, constipation, water retention and bloating;
  • an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin that benefits gum health and promotes the absorption of iron by the body, is for example a glass of orange juice (without sugar) at breakfast every day;
  • take a warm (not hot) bath or apply cold compresses to relieve pain from a growing uterus;
  • eat small and frequent meals, because this helps to fight heartburn and to keep blood sugar levels stable;
  • follow a “routine” of regular physical exercises which – by strengthening your muscles and ligaments – help you manage back pain and tiredness;
  • maintain correct posture ;
  • when you rest lying on your side (preferably left);
  • to rest better bend your legs and put a pillow between your knees. If you haven’t already purchased it, a total body pregnancy pillow is a useful accessory even during these last few weeks;

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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