During week 26 of your pregnancy, your baby continues to mature and develop. You are now approaching the end of the second trimester.
Around this time, the eyes will open, and your baby will be able to respond to light and sound.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. You will find a summary of each stage of pregnancy, what to expect, and you will find out how your baby is developing.
Take a look at the other articles in the series:
Your growing belly will now be the size of a soccer ball, and you will have gained between 16 and 22 pounds (lbs), or 7.25 to 10 kilograms (kg) in weight.
Other physical symptoms commonly include:
- a protruding navel
- bloating and gas
- increased vaginal discharge
- blurred vision
- round ligament pain
You may start to experience indigestion and heartburn around this time, as the baby pushes up against your stomach. If you feel you need to use medications, ask your health provider which ones are safe to use.
Hormonal changes are ongoing during pregnancy and responsible for many of the symptoms and mood changes you may experience.
One study has suggested that there may be a link between high levels of placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH) at this time and post-partum depression after delivery. However, more research is needed to confirm this.
Developments that are underway at 26 weeks include:
- Pelvis: The male testicles are fully descended.
- Lungs: These are developing and are now able to breathe air.
- Other: The eyes can now open, and the ability to suck and swallow has improved.
Your baby is now the size of a scallion, measuring around 13 inches long and weighing about 2 pounds.
Some screening tests may be arranged for you at this time.
One condition that may be screened for is gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy, but which usually goes away after delivery.
Those with a low-to-average risk will be tested between weeks 24 and 28.
During the initial glucose challenge test, you will be asked to drink a sugary solution that is syrupy in texture.
You will need to have a blood test after 1 hour to determine your blood sugar level.
A normal result is below 130-140 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or 7.2-7.8 mmol/L (millimoles per liter).
If the results are outside this range, you will need a follow-up glucose tolerance test which will require overnight fasting.
During the follow-up screening test, you will undergo a blood test to check your sugar following the fasting period.
After the blood test, you will be asked to drink a sugary drink which has more sugar than the drink in the earlier test.
This time, your blood sugar will be tested hourly for 3 hours. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed if two of the three blood results show higher than normal glucose levels.
As with earlier weeks, you will continue to make and maintain a number of lifestyle changes.
During pregnancy, you will need to take care of yourself and your developing baby.
It is important to:
- avoid alcohol, smoking, and other toxic substances
- discuss all medications with your health care provider
- follow a healthy diet and take a good prenatal vitamin that is recommended by your health provider
- get regular exercise
Discuss your exercise habits with your health care provider to make sure they are safe to continue at each stage of pregnancy.
Food and drink
Many things are safe to eat in pregnancy, but you should be careful of the following:
Fish: You should eat two to three servings, or up to 12 ounces of fish, such as shrimp, salmon, and pollock, but other types should be consumed in moderation, as they can contain high levels of mercury. Limit intake of albacore tuna, for example, to 6 ounces a week, and avoid shark, swordfish, tilefish, marlin and king mackerel.
If eating fish that you or your family have caught, for example, from a local lake, check with the local health authorities that the waters in which it was caught are safe.
Apart from making sure all meats, fish and eggs are fully cooked, you should avoid:
- uncooked smoked or pickled fish
- unpasteurized soft cheese
- mold-ripened cheese, such as Brie or Camembert
- blue-veined cheese, such as Stilton
- refrigerated pâté
- cold cut deli meat
- foods containing raw eggs, such as Caesar dressing and eggnog
Water: This is a necessity, but it must be treated or bottled water to ensure it is safe and will not transmit an infection.
Alcohol: No alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy.
If you have questions regarding your pregnancy, be sure to contact your health provider.
Call your doctor if you experience unusual symptoms that do not appear to be related to pregnancy.
At this stage, the following are possible:
Preterm delivery: Around 13 percent of deliveries happen before week 37. If delivery is very early, the newborn may not be able to support themselves as they are still developing. Symptoms include:
- five or more contractions in an hour or pains that feel like menstruation
- a watery discharge that may mean the waters have broken
- pressure on the pelvis
- vaginal bleeding
If you are having contractions, you should empty your bladder, lie down on your left side, drink plenty of water, and count the contractions. If symptoms continue after an hour, contact your health provider. If there is any vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid, you should call your doctor right away.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a delivery that occurs before week 28 is considered "extremely preterm," and it carries serious risks for the infant.
Pre-eclampsia: This can occur from around week 20. Symptoms include high blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine. In severe cases, there may be headaches, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, infrequent urination, and upper abdominal pain. It is a medical emergency and needs urgent attention.
Gestational diabetes: You will be tested for this condition around this time, but if you experience the following symptoms, you should seek medical advice:
- extreme thirst
- more frequent urination
Complications include preterm delivery, a large birth weight, which may make a cesarian delivery necessary, and a slightly higher risk of death in the fetus or newborn.
New research published in The BMJ this week describes a link between elevated potato intake before pregnancy and an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
Greater use of prescribed opioids among women during pregnancy has probably contributed to the rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome, says an editorial in The BMJ.