You are now 22 weeks pregnant and at the beginning of week 23.
Your baby is around 26 cm long from head to toe (10.2 inches) and weighs about 550 grams (or 1.21 pounds).
Your baby's nervous system is now completely 'connected'. The vital link between their brain and spinal cord (the brain stem) has matured and many nerve cells make vigorous connections. Now your baby is capable of recognising warmth, light, sound and pain. While primitive brain waves have been detected in unborn babies as early as 7 weeks, it is not until 22 weeks that sustained patterns can be definitely recorded. Some women now notice that their baby jumps with a loud sound (if they can feel their baby move yet).
Unborn babies at this stage typically like to lie in a transverse position (or crossways inside your belly), with their feet and bottom on one side, and their head on the other side. Your baby's placenta is now processing about 1 litre of blood per hour (or 50 pints every 24 hours) and by 40 weeks this increases to about 12 litres per hour (600 pints in 24 hours).
About 65% of healthy pregnant women develop fluid retention or swelling (called oedema), even though their blood pressure is normal. This may be noticed any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can happen in the legs, feet and hands. Normal pregnancy swelling is generally more noticeable at the end of the day, although it may be worse on hot days, after a plane trip or if you are on your feet for long periods of time.
NOTE: If you notice sudden swelling, you should have your blood pressure checked by your caregiver or local doctor to make sure it is NOT related to high blood pressure.
Nausea and vomiting
Up to 15% of women feel nauseous (and perhaps vomit) beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. This may be due to the influence of pregnancy hormones and an increased metabolism, or perhaps ongoing stress, anxiety and/or fatigue. Sometimes nausea and vomiting return during late pregnancy quite unexpectedly, particularly if dealing with a lot of stress. However, check with your caregiver to make sure it is not caused by an unrelated illness.
Most women feel quite comfortable with their pregnancy by this stage, both physically and emotionally. Thoughts may now turn towards giving birth and making preparations for this and parenting after the birth. Partners may also feel the pregnancy is becoming more tangible as they watch the woman's belly grow and hopefully soon will be able to feel their baby move as well!
Buying for baby
As your pregnancy progresses, you may start buying some items for your new baby's arrival. The joy of setting up a cot or bassinette and putting everything in its place in readiness for after the birth can make having your baby feel closer and perhaps more realistic. Some parents find it emotionally difficult to resist buying everything! Miniature clothes can look so cute, tugging at your heart strings and bringing feelings of excitement and wonder about the baby will soon be here!
Much time can be spent researching all the different baby equipment available, often taking up weekends with shopping (or hours surfing the net) to compare products and prices. In many cases, buying for your baby can feel overwhelming and confusing with so much to choose from.
Your pregnancy - Week 22