As their muscles develop, the grip of their fingers is growing stronger, and they may hold on to the umbilical cord.
This feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. Find out what you are likely to be experiencing at this time, how your baby is developing, and which screening tests you can expect.
In this article, we also offer some tips for traveling while pregnant.
Take a look at the other articles in the series:
Braxton-Hicks contractions can start from week 16.
Your bump will likely be showing at this stage, and you may also be experiencing:
- heartburn and indigestion
- increased hunger
- constipation and hemorrhoids
- increased vaginal discharge
- faintness and dizziness
- leg cramps
- back pain
- stretch marks starting to appear
- a protruding navel
- Braxton- Hicks contractions
Braxton-Hicks is a type of contraction that may start around the 22nd week of pregnancy or as early as 16 weeks.
The muscles of the womb tighten, and you can feel your bump harden. They may take place once or twice in an hour, a few times in a day, or you might not be aware of them at all.
They are different than labor pains in the following ways:
- They are not regular or frequent and do not increase in frequency.
- They last less than a minute and do not increase in duration or intensity.
- They may stop if you change activity, such as laying down to rest.
- They do not increase in pain level.
If you are unsure whether your contractions are labor pains or Braxton-Hicks, call your doctor.
Throughout pregnancy, variations in certain hormones will occur and bring about changes in the body.
Effect on sex drive
The fluctuations in hormones can result in a higher sex drive for some women when moving from the end of the first trimester into the second.
Reasons for this include the following:
- sensitive breasts
- increased blood flow to the genital area and the clitoris
- more effective vaginal lubrication
These changes make arousal easier and sex more enjoyable.
This higher libido often lasts from late in the first trimester to the end of trimester two. The sickness of the early weeks has gone away, and the discomfort of the last trimester has not yet begun.
Some, however, find that they have a lower sex drive. This may be down to a range of reasons and concerns, including:
- physical awkwardness
- a fear of harming the fetus or rupturing the membrane
- concerns about infection
Speak to your partner about how you feel. This may ease the tensions that might arise from a low sex drive.
Your healthcare provider can clarify the risk of infection or early delivery as a result of intercourse during pregnancy.
However, if the pregnancy is generally uncomplicated and has not presented major health issues so far, having sex does not put your baby at risk.
Many changes are taking place during the 22nd week of pregnancy.
Your baby is around the size of a small doll or a spaghetti squash and looks more like a newborn child. However, they will not yet have reached full size. They will move around more, using stronger, more clearly-defined movements.
They now measure almost 10 inches or 25 centimeters (cm) in length and weigh around 14 ounces, or 0.4 kilograms (kg).
Other developments that are taking place include the following:
- The first bowel movement occurs in the intestinal tract, known as meconium.
- Muscles are developing, leading to increased activity.
- A doctor can now hear the baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope.
- Nails grow to the end of the fingers.
- Eyebrows and lashes are developing.
- The eyes have fully formed, but the irises still lack color.
- The lips are forming.
- The pancreas is formed and continues to mature.
Lanugo is a fine, soft hair that covers the body of a fetus. It starts to appear on the head around week 14–16 and grows to cover the body. It normally disappears before delivery, around weeks 31–34.
The reason for the development of lanugo is not clear, but it may help maintain temperature for the baby.
Some preterm infants may still have their lanugo. Some babies keep a quantity of lanugo for 1-2 weeks after birth. Preterm infants will often retain lanugo for longer.
Things to do
By this time, you should have already completed or be undergoing genetic testing.
Fetal fibronectin (fFN)test
If your doctor has concerns that you are at risk of preterm labor, they may carry out a test to check for a protein, fetal fibronectin (fFN), which is present in the membranes surrounding the baby.
If the protein is absent, the risk of delivering in the next 2 weeks is low.
Check any requirements and travel advice before taking a trip while pregnant.
The second trimester is usually the most comfortable time during pregnancy.
If you are planning a trip before the birth of your infant, now could be the time to do it.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend planning any travel between weeks 14–28 of pregnancy.
Here are some important points to consider before book travel during pregnancy.
How late can I travel?
You can travel by air up to 36 weeks, so long as both you and your baby are in good health. People with preeclampsia and those who have a risk of a ruptured membrane or preterm delivery should not travel.
Some airlines may require a doctor's certificate after a certain stage of pregnancy.
This may be one month before delivery for domestic flights or from 28 weeks onwards for some international flights.
Where can I go?
Try to avoid traveling to locations that present a risk of exposure to infections that are dangerous during pregnancy, and against which you have not yet received vaccination.
Take care to ensure that all your food is sanitory. In some places, you should only drink bottled water. Ask your health provider before you travel what you can take if you have diarrhea while away.
Check the climate of the place you are visiting. Make sure you can cope with any extreme temperatures before booking your trip.
What should I take?
Take supplies of any necessary vitamins, over-the-counter (OTC), and prescribed medications you may be taking.
Check that any necessary vaccinations are up-to-date, and if you cannot receive a vaccination during pregnancy, such as rubella, avoid traveling to places where this disease is active.
What medical information do I need?
You should check with your health provider before going on a trip and schedule a doctor's visit before you leave.
As a precaution, keep with you a record of your due date, your doctor's contact details, and any important notes about your pregnancy.
You may need a doctor's certificate to fly after 28 weeks.
What ticket and insurance should I have?
Make sure you have travel insurance that covers you for pregnancy.
Choose a refundable or alterable ticket when booking, in case you need to change your travel plans before or during the trip.
How can I travel in comfort and safety?
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and choose the fastest route.
To reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT):
- opt for a seat with extra legroom
- get up and move around every couple of hours during the journey
- drink plenty of fluids
- wear compression stockings
A range of compression stockings are available for purchase online.
Different grades of compression stocking are available, so check first with your healthcare provider to find out which grade they recommend.
Can I wear a safety belt?
Whatever your means of transport, always fasten your safety belt when one is available.
If you are traveling by car, buckle the seat belt below the belly, then pass the diagonal belt between the breasts and down the side of your belly.
When traveling by air, fasten your seat belt for the whole journey.
Can I go on a cruise?
When planning a cruise:
- Make sure that the cruise offers medical support in the form of an onboard doctor or nurse.
- Ask your doctor for advice if you are likely to be seasick.
- Follow a strict handwashing and hygiene routine while onboard to reduce the risk of getting a norovirus. Check here to see if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have inspected your ship.
- Choose a cruise that stops in places with appropriate medical facilities.
- Avoid locations that could potentially be dangerous during pregnancy according to advice from the CDC.
When should I see a doctor while I am away?
If you experience any symptoms that would cause concern at home while abroad, see a doctor.
- vaginal bleeding
- unusual pain or contractions
- severe diarrhea or vomiting
- high blood pressure, swelling of hands or feet, headache, and changes in eyesight, which could indicate preeclampsia
- signs that labor is starting, for example, the waters breaking
Pregnancy increases the risk of a urinary tract infection. If you think you may have symptoms of an infection, speak with a healthcare provider.