In week 24 of your pregnancy, you can clearly feel your baby's movements, and your bump is taking shape.

Your baby's reflexes are improving, and the face will have fully formed. You are now well into the second semester and will give birth to your baby 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:

First trimester: fertilization, implantation, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12.

Second trimester: week 13, week 14, week 15, week 16, week 17, week 18, week 19, week 20, week 21, week 22, week 23, week 25

In addition to weight gain and a growing abdomen, you may start to notice some new changes around this stage of the pregnancy.

Skin, feet, and eyes

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The linea nigra runs vertically down the abdomen.

Symptoms may include:

  • Itching and flaking skin: This can affect your abdomen as the skin stretches. Use a good moisturizer, but let your doctor know if you experience any itchy red marks that do not get better after moisturizing.
  • Dry eyes: The eyes may dry out at this stage of pregnancy. Try using artificial tears to manage this symptom.
  • Chloasma: Brown or yellowish patches that some people refer to as the "mask of pregnancy" can occur on the skin.
  • 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. This line is linea nigra.
  • Stretch marks: Streaky lines develop on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, and thighs. In time, they usually fade to a whitish gray color.
  • Feet: As pregnancy progresses, your feet may grow up to a whole size larger. This is because fluid and tissue build up in the feet, and the ligaments relax, causing the arch to drop and the feet to "spread." You may need a new pair of shoes or open shoes for summer wear. These changes may be permanent.

These are all natural changes, and you do not need to worry about them. They are a part of pregnancy, not a sign of problems with the gestation.

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 the benefits of their use for preventing or treating stretch marks are unclear. Research has suggested that massaging may help.

If you are interested in trying them, creams for applying to stretch marks are available for purchase online.

Other problems

Other health problems that may occur at this time include:

To relieve heartburn, try eating five or six smaller meals, and be sure to consume the last meal of the day 2–3 hours before you try to lay down and sleep

Through the entire pregnancy, you face a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection. If you suspect an infection, speak with a healthcare provider about treatment.

Fluctuating hormones can cause different symptoms throughout pregnancy.

Mood: People who experienced mood swings in the first trimester may find that these have settled down by week 24. You may notice certain mood changes as you approach the final part of your pregnancy.

Let your doctor know if you begin to experience hopelessness, lose enjoyment on an on-going basis due to pregnancy, or regularly find yourself tearful.

Flexibility: As your body produces relaxin, your joints and ligaments will loosen up. This can make you feel much more flexible than usual, but you need to be careful not to strain or overstretch. This could lead to an injury.

Hair, nails, and skin: Hormonal fluctuations can also lead to changes in hair and nail growth. Hair may grow 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. 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 due to 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 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 growing more complex, and branches are starting to form. The cells that produce surfactant, a substance that enables air sacs to inflate when breathing, are forming.

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. This screening aims to check blood sugar levels.

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Gestational diabetes occurs in 6–7 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 another blood test. The doctor will draw more blood after a period of fasting. They will then follow this up with another blood test following a sugary drink. This checks your glucose tolerance and how well the body absorbs and uses glucose.

If the test indicates gestational diabetes, your healthcare provider will explain any dietary and exercise lifestyle adjustments that may help. If the problem persists, you may need to start using medication.

Gestational diabetes affects between 6 and 7 percent of women who are pregnant. The long-term effect this will have on the fetus is not yet clear.

Symptoms include:

  • 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 by doing so.

Remember:

  • to avoid drinking alcohol
  • not to smoke and also to avoid second-hand smoke
  • to avoid all other toxic substances, such as drugs and many medications
  • to use semi-permanent rather than permanent hair dye
  • to limit caffeine intake to 200 mg a day
  • to cook all meat, fish, and eggs all the way through
  • to avoid eating shark and other high-mercury fish
  • to consume only pasteurized dairy produce and fruit juices
  • to drink plenty of bottled or treated water and avoid untreated water
  • to avoid soft cheeses, deli meats, and pâtés 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.

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

If you have questions regarding your pregnancy, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.