Your baby's reflexes are improving, and the face is fully formed.
You are now well into the second semester, and your baby will be born in around 16 weeks.
This feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. You can find out what to expect at each stage of pregnancy and learn more about the changes that you and your baby are going through.
Take a look at the other articles in the series:
In addition to weight gain and a growing abdomen, you may start to notice some new changes around this time.
Skin, feet, and eyes
The linea nigra runs vertically down the abdomen.
Symptoms may include:
Itching and flaking skin: This can affect your abdomen as your skin stretches. Use a good moisturizer, but be sure and let you doctor know if you have any itchy red marks that do not get better with moisturizing.
Dry eyes: Try artificial tears.
Chloasma: Brown or yellowish patches can appear on the skin, known as the "mask of pregnancy."
Skin darkening: The nipples, external genital area, and anus may darken in color.
Linea nigra: From around the fifth month, many women notice a dark line down the middle of the abdomen, between one quarter and a half inch across.
Stretch marks: Pink or red, streaky lines appear on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, and thighs. In time, they usually fade to a whitish gray color.
Feet: As pregnancy progresses, your feet may get up to a size bigger. This is because fluid and tissue accumulate in the feet, and the ligaments relax, causing the arch to drop and the feet to "spread." You may need to get a new pair of shoes, or wear open shoes in summer. In some cases, these changes may be permanent.
These are all natural changes, and you do not need to worry about them.
Skin care products
Using a skin care product may help, such as moisturizer for itching and sunscreen for pigmentation.
Special creams are available for stretch marks. These are effective moisturizers, but it is unclear how effective they are in preventing or treating stretch marks. Research has suggested that massaging may help.
If you are interested in trying them, creams for applying to stretch marks are available to purchase online.
Other problems that may occur at this time include:
To relieve heartburn, try eating five or six smaller meals, and make sure your last meal of the day is consumed 2 to 3 hours before you try to lay down and sleep
Through the entire pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection. If you suspect an infection, speak with a health care provider about treatment.
Fluctuating hormones can cause different symptoms throughout pregnancy.
Mood: If you were experiencing mood swings in the first trimester, you may find that these have settled down for a while. You may notice some mood changes as you head into the last part of your pregnancy.
Let you doctor know if you begin to feel sad, lose enjoyment over your pregnancy or often find yourself tearful.
Flexibility: As your body produces relaxin, your joints and ligaments will be loosening up. This can make you feel much more flexible than usual, but you need to be careful not to strain or overstretch yourself, because this could lead to an injury.
Hair, nails, and skin: Hormonal fluctuations can also lead to changes in hair and nail growth. Hair may appear in unusual places, such as the face, the abdomen, or around the nipples.
- Hair on the head may become thicker as it grows more and falls out less, but this will stop after delivery.
- Nails, too, may grow faster and stronger than before, but some find they become more brittle than usual. Keep them well trimmed to prevent breakages.
- Stretch marks may start to appear around this time, because of the effect of relaxin on the fibers of the skin.
At 24 weeks pregnant, your baby is the size of a large ear of corn. They are over 12.5 inches, or 32 centimeters (cm) long and weigh 1.25 to 1.5 pounds, or 0.6 to 0.7 kilograms (kg).
Other developments that are underway include:
- Brain: The brain is developing quickly.
- Mouth: Taste buds are forming and mouth and lips show increasing sensitivity.
- Eyes and ears: The eyes respond to light and the ears respond to sound from outside the uterus.
- Reflexes: These are becoming more refined.
- Lungs:These are becoming more complex and branches are starting to form. The cells that produce surfactant—a substance that enable air sacs to inflate when breathing—are forming.
Things to do
Between weeks 24 and 28, you will likely be screened for gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes screening
This involves drinking a sugary syrup and then having a blood test after an hour, to check your blood sugar levels.
Gestational diabetes affects 6 to 7 percent of women during pregnancy.
A normal result is below 130 to 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 7.2-7.8 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
If blood sugar levels are abnormal, you will need to do another blood test, which involves a fasting blood draw followed by being drawn after drinking another sugary drink. This checks your glucose tolerance.
If the test indicates gestational diabetes, your health provider will discuss with you any dietary and exercise changes that may help. If the problem persists, you may need to use medication.
- unusual thirst
- an excessive need to urinate
- fatigue and nausea
You should continue to look after yourself throughout pregnancy, as you are also taking care of your baby.
- not to drink alcohol
- not to smoke and to avoid second-hand smoke as well
- to avoid all other toxic substances, such as drugs, many medications
- to use semi-permanent hair dye rather than permanent
- to limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams (mg) a day
- to ensure all meat, fish, and eggs are fully cooked
- to avoid shark and other fish that are high in mercury
- to consume only pasteurized dairy produce and fruit juices
- to drink plenty of bottled or treated water, but not untreated water
- to avoid soft cheeses, deli meats, and pates that increase the risk of infection
Be sure to discuss all medications or supplements with your health provide, as some may be unsafe to use.
If you have questions regarding your pregnancy, be sure to contact your health care provider.
Call your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms, such as:
- faintness or dizziness
- severe itching
- high or low blood pressure
- rectal pressure
- shoulder pain
- pelvic pain or cramping
- vaginal bleeding
- passage of tissue
Research new on pregnancy from MNT
Over 100 years ago, nearly all births in the US happened outside of a hospital, but by 1940, only 44 percent of births occurred this way, with the rate falling to just 1 percent by 1969. Now, a new study shows support for home births, suggesting they pose no increased risk of harm to the baby, compared with planned hospital births.