Pregnancy and birth

23 weeks

Once again I’m turning to the good people at Huggies to tell me what’s going on with the babies:

Your baby weighs around 500 grams or half a kg this week and is just under 20 cm from its crown (head) to its little rump. It still looks like a little dolly but perhaps one with more skin than fat to fill it; sort of like having a size 000000 skin and a size 00000 body.  This is because its skin is growing faster than its underlying fat can be laid down.  You are entitled to some treats this week, as long as you remember they are for filling out the baby’s skin, not yours ok?

Your baby is starting to form an important substance in its lungs, known as surfactant which will help its tiny alveoli to stay open when it is born. Think about the outer leaves on a tree and you’ll have mental image of the importance of these minute air pockets staying open so oxygen can pass through from the surrounding blood vessels.  If a mother goes into premature labour, she will often have an injection of steroids to assist in the development of the baby’s surfactant.

Your baby’s heart chambers and major blood vessels supplying the heart can all be seen on ultrasound this week.  Although it is still very small, this major organ will grow along with the rest of your baby so that at birth, its heart is around the size of a walnut.

Your baby can hear.  Its ears are fully functioning by this stage of pregnancy and will react if there is a sudden, loud noise. A dog barking, door slamming, car backfiring will all make it jump.  Its bones are hardening as well so remember to have a good intake of calcium everyday.

Your baby can move all of its muscles this week and there is even more coordination and action going on in your tummy.  You’ll have a sense that the baby is getting stronger and instead of little flutters which until recently, made you doubt you’d felt something, you’ll need no convincing this week.

I’m definitely feeling a lot more baby movement.  Our boy is still fluttering around in the bottom bunk, kicking me in the bladder and being particularly active in the evenings.  Our girl’s kicks continue to be cushioned by her placenta, but I’m increasingly feeling her lurching around, and she head-butts me in the ribs occasionally.

I intend to do my maternal duty in a minute and help the babies with both their calcium intake and their fat accumulation by having some stewed rhubarb and ice cream.  And no fear about going overboard and scoffing too much – I’m definitely running out of tummy room very easily these day.

Here’s what’s going on with me, apparently:

Your tummy is creeping upwards and is now above your navel.  You may feel as if you have “popped out” and it’s becoming harder to hide the fact that you are pregnant.  You may become aware of people looking twice, wondering if you are pregnant or even asking you if you are.

You could be experiencing pins and needles in your hands.  This is commonly due to a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome which affects the thumbs and forefingers.  Compression from water retention on the carpal nerve pathway is the most frequent cause.  Physiotherapy and splints are sometimes necessary to alleviate pain and numbness.

Another common complaint at this stage is headaches.  Even if you don’t usually get headaches they may feature more than you’d like in the next couple of weeks. Blame those pregnancy hormones, again. Avoid becoming dehydrated or over heated. If you do get a headache try to lie down in a dark room with a cool washer over your eyes.  Sometimes it helps to eat a light meal.  If you develop a sudden, unrelenting headache with visual disturbance you will need to be checked by a doctor.

You may be feeling the start of Braxton Hicks contractions. These are painless uterine contractions which are concentrated mainly at the top of the uterus.  After exercising, bending over, having sex or even when you’ve done not much, you may be able to feel them if you place your hand over your tummy. They are your body’s way of practicing for the real thing.

I’m not yet noticing Braxton Hicks contractions, I’m not having headaches, and I haven’t been experiencing pins and needles.  And my bump is massive.  Two people said today that, if they didn’t know I was having twins, they’d assume that I was practically at full term.

More from Huggies about what might be going on with me:

Having any weird and wonderful dreams yet?  It is common in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy to have some pretty amazing and vivid dreams which tend to hang around the next day. You could find yourself dreaming of being in the most fantastical situations which bear no resemblance to your everyday life.  The baby may even make a staring role and quite possibly, not be quite what you were hoping for.  Try not to take any of this as a sign or warning for things to come. Dreams are just one way for us to sort through the excess of brain activity we are exposed to through our waking hours. They are, in one sense, the waste products of our subconscious and we need them to make space in our brains for new information in the coming day.

Well, yes, now that you ask!  I often have fairly weird and vivid dreams, so in some ways this isn’t too unusual for me, but I have noticed particularly entertaining dreams in recent weeks.  Last night, for example, I dreamt that my very old friend Hugh and Nic, his wife, had decided to move their family from Sydney to Auckland, and that Hugh had decided to give up life as a corporate lawyer in favour of a new career as our night nanny.  However, he’d started working before the babies had arrived, so he and Tristan were out on the turps every night, forcing me to wake up in the early hours of each morning and pick them up from wherever they’d ended up.

And did I mention a while ago that I was having a series of super hero/master spy dreams, where my intrepid adventures would invariably be interrupted at a crucial stage (when I was just about to jump out of a plane, for example) by the sudden realisation that I was pregnant and probably shouldn’t be tackling such a risky task?  I haven’t had one of those for a while, come to think of it, so I must have got my subconscious risk-seeking behaviour out of my system.

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3 thoughts on “23 weeks

  1. Bless their innocent hearts, people might be asking if I am pregnant. There’s maybe 2% of pregnant women (the ones who spent the first trimester vomiting a LOT) that are at that stage at 23 weeks. And is it week 24 or 26 that a twin pregnancy looks like a full term single pregnancy? You must be nearly there!

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