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If you are entering the 22nd week of your pregnancy, without doubts it is getting crowded in there! Your baby is growing and invading your space. And your uterus stretches to about 2 cm (0.8 in) above your belly button to fit your growing baby.
At this stage, your baby is becoming more physically active and will be able to feel the baby moving inside your body more intensively. You may not be capable to notice the first movement. You will feel them like a fluttering sensation. As time passes, your baby’s movements will become stronger, more frequent and noticeable.
How big is your baby at 22 weeks pregnant?
Your baby is now almost 11.2 (28.8 cm) inches in length and weighs around 1.1 pounds (478 grams). You can compare it with the size of a carrot. Because of the lack of fatty tissues, the baby is still very thin. With the ultrasound photos taken at your 22nd week of pregnancy, you can get a more precise idea of how your baby will look like.
22 weeks pregnant baby position
At 22 weeks, your baby is still in the upright position and will continue to take up this posture for the coming three to five weeks. With his size, he’s still able to move around.
Pregnancy week 22 fetal development
The internal organs are growing fast, and the skin is still wrinkly and covered with lanugo. The eyelids can be distinguished from the eyebrows. The eyes are formed, but the colored part of the eye-the iris still lacks pigment.
In the 22 weeks, the liver is starting to produce several enzymes that will break down bilirubin (byproduct gained from breaking down of the red blood cells). The fetal red blood cells are known to have a shorter lifespan, so the production of bilirubin in the fetus is significantly increased.
The bilirubin produced by the fetus goes from the fetal blood into the mother’s blood through the placenta. The liver of the mother is releasing the fetal bilirubin. In this period, the sensory system of the baby is starting to develop. Your baby starts to rub the face, legs, and torso. She can already perceive light and dark and hear your voice and heartbeat. If the baby is a girl, the uterus, ovaries and egg cells are formed at this stage.
After the 20th week of pregnancy, is it only getting more and more crowded. But, eventually, you will have to get used to it as your belly will continue to grow.
22 weeks pregnant belly
When you reach once the 22nd week, your belly will start to look more like you are pregnant rather than you have put some weight. Everyone around you will be now able to recognize that you are pregnant. A lot of people will reach out to rub your belly. At the 22nd week of pregnancy, your belly measures approximately 20-24 cm (7.9 -9.5 in) from the pelvic bone to the top of the uterus. You can also get stretch marks that are caused because the skin stretches rapidly that is actually torn below the surface.
In general, you will be feeling good at 22 weeks pregnant. But, still, there are some common symptoms that you might experience at this time. These symptoms include:
Abdominal pain is a normal issue if you are 22 weeks pregnant, but sometimes can be really scary as well. The pain that you might feel can be sharp and stabbing, or dull and achy.
You must learn to make a difference between a normal pain and an unusual pain and to know when to call a doctor.
Gas and constipation
The progesterone levels are higher in this period, and you might experience more gas and constipation. Plus, as your uterus is becoming larger, it puts an additional pressure on your bowel. Eating healthy food and exercise will help with this. On the other hand, when your uterus stretches because of the baby, the ligaments that are found on the uterus move as well. This can cause sharp and dull pain in the abdominal area.
Varicose veins are common issues in pregnancy due to
- The relaxation of the venous smooth muscle this is the effect of progesterone (it stabilizes the uterus by relaxing smooth muscle. This directly influences venous function).
- Increased intravascular pressure that causes venous hypertension forcing blood from the deep to the superficial venous system.
To reduce the risk of getting varicose veins, try wearing compression stockings whenever you can. Also, hold your feet up for a few minutes, at least once per day.
The changes in hormone levels and changes in the body's natural chemical balance usually normalize in the first 12 weeks, but you can still have sickness at 22 weeks pregnant because of the hormonal changes.
You may also have diarrhea at 22 weeks pregnant. Because of the changes in your body, you may get sensitive to certain foods. Also, diarrhea may be a sign that your labor is getting closer. But keep in mind that combination of nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can be a symptom of serious conditions as appendicitis or cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation).
In most of the cases, cramping at 22 weeks is a normal part of the pregnancy. During the 22nd week, a common cause of cramping is the round ligament pain. The round ligament maintains the uterus in anteversion (the position of the uterus when its fundus is turned forward). When it stretches, you may feel a sharp, stabbing pain in your lower abdomen.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions (“false contractions”) are normal for this period of your pregnancy, and you shouldn’t worry about them. They are usually weak, or start out strong and grow weaker. Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and feel like a tightening in your lower abdomen that begins in the upper part of the uterine muscles and radiates downwards.
Learn how to tell the difference between false and real contractions.
It is simple – your baby is growing, the volume of your blood is increased and then there is the gravity. All of this contributes to the pelvic pressure that you are starting to feel.
The best thing you can do is to lie down to your side and try to focus on your breathing. Try to make a difference between the pelvic pressure and pelvic pain.
If you are experiencing pain instead of pressure, it will be hard for you to walk. In this case, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Increase in libido
The increased sexual drive is another symptom of being in the 22nd week of pregnancy, and it is a positive one. Since there is an extra blood volume in your body, your genital organ will be super sensitive as well, and it may result in powerful orgasms and increased lubrication.
Hemorrhoids are representing painful and swollen vein found around your bottom. During pregnancy, hemorrhoids are also very common appearance. Your uterus is growing from day to day, and it puts more pressure on pelvic veins. This increases intravascular pressure in hemorrhoidal veins which contributes to hemorrhoid formation.
If your doctor is not limiting your daily physical activities, walk or exercise at least 3 minutes a day. Drinking a lot of liquids and eating foods rich in fiber also helps to prevent the appearance of hemorrhoids. If you experience hard and really painful external hemorrhoids, you should visit your doctor.
Back pain is due to the extra pressure from your baby and of carrying extra weight. Sleep with a body pillow and do a prenatal massage to ease a backache.
Increased vaginal discharge
Changes in vaginal discharge are common at this stage because of the increased blood flow. This may also result in increased vaginal discharge. But if you notice that the smell or the color of your vaginal discharge changed it’s the reason to visit your doctor because it can be the sign of an infection.
Also, a protein called fetal fibronectin might be present in the vaginal discharge. The fetal fibronectin is used to rule out preterm labor. A fetal fibronectin screening is done between week 22 and week 34 of pregnancy in women at high risk of preterm labor in order to rule out this possibility.
Snoring is annoying, but It is a normal issue among pregnant women. As your belly grows, it is getting more difficult for you to find a comfortable sleeping position. You may find more information about snoring here.
The ultrasound shows pictures of your baby inside your uterus.
You are able to see the development of your baby via these photos, as well as its fetal movements and position. Your doctor may be also able to tell you the sex of your baby during the ultrasound.
The baby will most likely appear to be sleeping. Babies have periods of sleeping and periods of activity when they are in the uterus.
Eat healthy foods
A variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, beans, grain bread, fish and lean meats should be included in your everyday menu. Drink a lot of liquids and try to minimize your caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.
Don’t eat fish high in mercury (like swordfish, king mackerel, and shark), choose fish that is low in mercury (salmon, cod, tuna or shrimp).
You may find yourself in consuming an excessive quantity of food and uncontrollable eating. Increased appetite during pregnancy is pretty normal.
Don’t forget your prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins supply extra vitamins and minerals you need. Taking the necessary vitamins also helps to reduce the risk of some birth defects.
If you are a smoker, you must cut off the cigarettes immediately. Smoking increases the chances of miscarriage and some health issues during your pregnancy. Smoking also can cause preterm labor and low birthweight.
Alcohol is not allowed
Everything that you consume passes to your baby through the placenta. So, if you drink alcohol it will also pass to your baby. Alcohol affects the brain development of your baby and can also cause FAS – fetal alcohol syndrome. The FAS later causes mental, growth and behavior problems.
Having an exercise routine as your pregnancy progresses is a great idea. Don’t force yourself; just do some simple exercise with which you feel comfortable go for yoga or to the swimming pool if you don’t have any restrictions.
Let’s break the stereotypes first. Yes, you are allowed to have sex during your pregnancy and no, this won’t hurt your baby.
As your belly grows up, you will notice that it will interfere with your daily activities, including having sex. Because of the size of your belly, you may not be able to do some of your favorite poses. So, you will have to get creative and discover the poses that will be comfortable for you and your partner.
Thinking of what to do at this stage of pregnancy? Here is a to-do list from Flo.
- If you will need a childcare, it is the best time to start looking for it.
- Start preparing the nursery room.
- If you want to do a maternity photo shoot, schedule it now with the photographer.
- Start reading about different types of diapers and discuss your diapering opinion with your partner.
- Practice pelvic floor exercises.
Drinking liquids is important. You should ask your doctor how much liquid to drink each day and what types of liquids are most suitable for you.
If you are taking any medicines, you should talk to your doctor and ask him/her whether to continue to take all the medicines through your pregnancy.
Did you know that you are at the increased potential to get an infection and illnesses like TORCH infections when pregnant? Ask your doctor for some advice about this.
You should seek medical care immediately if:
- You have a headache that just won’t go away
- You have noticed a vaginal spotting or bleeding
- You notice pregnancy swelling (edema) in your hands or torso areas
- You notice some changes in your vision, like blurred or spotted vision
- Your water broke.