For many women, being 23 weeks pregnant is an exciting time because you may finally be showing your baby bump! But what else should you know about this time in your pregnancy? Read more to learn about what to expect during this major milestone.
Twenty three weeks pregnant is around the same time that your baby starts to look like, well, a baby! Among other things, your baby’s eyes and lips are taking shape. They will begin to gain weight more weight which will eventually fill out their wrinkly skin.
You may notice there is more movement in your belly at 23 weeks.
Those light flutters you may have felt early on in your pregnancy could turn in to full-blown punches, kicks. This is because your baby will move a lot more as their muscles develop and their coordination improves.
How big is your baby at 23 weeks pregnant?
Your baby, who is the approximate size of a papaya, will be around 11 inches long and weigh approximately one pound. From this point forward, your baby will steadily gain weight and get stronger with better muscle coordination each week.
23 weeks pregnant baby position
At this stage of the second trimester, your unborn baby is just shy of a foot in length and is the size of a large mango or a grapefruit. There will be some significant growth coming on in the next few weeks since the big day is just about 3 months away.
This is still relatively far off and the baby is not yet ready to come out. The head is closer to your diaphragm while the legs point towards the bottom of your uterus. Since the baby is still small, can change during the course of the day as it floats about in the amniotic fluid.
Pregnancy week 23 fetal development
In your twenty third week, your baby will have developed all of the necessary organs to be able to survive outside the womb if they were to be born extremely prematurely. Blood vessels in your baby’s lungs are developing in preparation of breathing outside of the uterus.
Your baby’s skin will have a thin and translucent quality to it that will be reddish in colour due to being able to see the blood vessels until pigments (what give skin its color) are deposited.
Your baby’s sense of hearing is strengthening as the bones in their middle ear begin to harden. They’ll be able to hear loud sounds even outside the womb, like sirens or the vacuum cleaner. You may even notice your baby respond to specific sounds, like your voice or music.
Most notably, at 23 weeks is typically when your baby bump will start to show enough that friends, family and even strangers may notice.
You may also feel stronger movements like wiggles and kicks from your baby who is gaining more muscle strength and coordination day by day.
What else happens to your body at 23 weeks pregnant?
You may notice:
- stretch marks across your body, especially over the hips and belly,
- cramping in your leg muscles, especially calves or feet,
- moderate swelling in your ankles/feet due to increased fluid in your body (sudden or extreme swelling may be symptoms of preeclampsia, which could result in complications, so speak with your doctor if you are concerned), and
- bleeding gums during tooth brushing
As your baby continues to grow, you will too. You can expect to have gained anywhere around 10 lbs by your twenty third week of pregnancy.
23 weeks pregnant belly
Of course, one of the most noticeable changes in your body at twenty three weeks pregnant is your belly! Many women have a visible baby bump now, and that will continue to grow as baby grows. Your belly’s fundal height (measured from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus) is between 21-25 centimeters.
Remember, your growing belly will also change your center of gravity so your balance may vary from day to day!
Every woman is different when it comes to how they feel during their pregnancy but there are some common symptoms you may experience in your twenty third week. These include:
- Constipation – the large bowel has decreased motility during pregnancy.
- Headaches or migraines, which can be caused by muscle tension in the upper back, shoulders and neck as your spine changes shape to accommodate your changing body and growing baby.
- Difficulty sleeping, insomnia or vivid dreaming, which can be caused by body pains, anxiety or general discomfort.
If you suffered from morning sickness in your first trimester, the good news is it will have likely subsided by now. However, you may still find that your appetite is changing and you are sensitive to particular tastes and smells, which could cause nausea.
You may also experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which can be uncomfortable but are usually painless and sporadic. Braxton Hicks contractions are just your uterus getting ready for the real deal of giving birth.
However, if your contractions also come with severe cramping, abdominal pain or bleeding at 23 weeks pregnant, contact your doctor immediately as these could be signs of early labour.
Since your baby has begun taking the shape of a tiny human, it can be an exciting thrill to see your baby in your ultrasound at 23 weeks. You may be able to see your baby’s facial features more distinctly than you had before. Your baby may also move around more to give you a closer glance at other parts of their body.
The ultrasound at 23 weeks pregnant will also measure for healthy growth, including the circumference of the head, the abdomen, and the length of the femur bone (the longest bone in the body).
As your baby and your belly grow, you may feel more inclined to join specialty pregnancy groups or fitness classes. Prenatal yoga is a popular form of exercise during pregnancy, and can also improve your overall wellbeing. Yoga and light stretching can also reduce pain or discomfort related to muscle cramping and lower back pain.
If you are feeling anxious as your due date approaches, you may want to try different stress management techniques to help ease your mind and relax your body.
Your health is vital to the health of your baby, so be sure to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick. Some high-risk infectious diseases like TORCH syndrome and German measles can result in serious complications in your pregnancy, and harm your baby.
Some women report having a high sex drive during their second trimester so if you have a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, don’t be afraid to get it on! On top of lifestyle changes that you can do to alleviate pregnancy-related symptoms, sex can be a great mood booster.
When it comes to sex, always listen to your body and embrace whatever feels good to you. Lying on your back may feel uncomfortable at 23 weeks pregnant, so experiment with different positions to find what feels good. It is perfectly normal to experience some slight cramping around the pelvis or abdomen during or shortly after an orgasm, but that is nothing to worry about.
At 23 weeks pregnant, there is some planning you can do in anticipation of your baby’s delivery in the coming months:
Planning for maternity leave
If you are currently working, now is a good time to start planning for taking time off when your baby arrives. Get to know the maternity leave rights in your country, and if your employer has any maternity or parental leave benefits. When you feel ready, speak to your employer about when you would like to take time off.
Preparing for labor and delivery
It’s a good idea to start thinking about your labor and delivery plan, if you haven’t already. Learn about giving birth, and speak with your doctor or midwife about your desired delivery method or location (hospital, home, clinic etc.).
When it comes time to give birth, it may not go exactly according to plan, but it can be helpful to feel prepared just in case.
Getting ready for baby’s arrival
You may notice that you have an increased interest in looking at baby items like clothes and accessories. While you may not be fully “nesting” (feeling an overwhelming urge to prepare for baby’s arrival), it can still be helpful to start a list of what you might need.
If you have friends or family members who have had children, they may be able to offer some ideas for what came in handy for them.
As you approach your third trimester, it can be a good idea to ask your doctor when you can expect to take your glucose screening test. The test, which is usually administered between weeks 23 and 28 of pregnancy, screens for gestational diabetes.
High blood sugar can impact your baby’s health, but you may not experience any symptoms, which is why screening is important.
If any of your pregnancy symptoms are causing you severe pain or discomfort, ask your doctor if there are treatment options available to you.
Now that your baby looks more like a baby and you look as pregnant as you feel, you may find that being twenty three weeks pregnant is when it all feels “real.”
Learn more about your pregnancy and track your symptoms using Flo in the pregnancy mode to monitor your progress from week to week!