Baby Growth at 22 Weeks Pregnant
You are now 22 weeks along and more than halfway into your pregnancy. As your baby continues to grow and develop, you’ll probably notice more and more movement. Your little kicker is now as big as a bell pepper measuring 11.5 inches and weighs a whopping 1 pound.
Your baby is beginning to look more human everyday. Lashes and eyebrows begin to appear, the lips are more pronounced, and your baby’s eyes are now fully developed except for the color in the iris. All five senses are significantly developing. Taste buds are beginning to form and your baby’s brain is getting more wrinkles and nerves whereas the baby can now sense touch.
Since week 12, your baby’s reproductive system has been developing and continues to make progress. For males, their testicles begin to drop. For females, the uterus and ovaries fall into place and the vagina begins to form. At this stage, a female has all her eggs that she will have during her lifetime. That’s over 6 million eggs! At birth, a female has about 1 million eggs and as puberty hits, this amount will decrease to only about 300,000. It only took that one egg and sperm to meet to make your miracle little peanut, which is not so peanut-like anymore.
Your baby’s working on prepping for their first bowel movement after they are born from the undigested amniotic fluids. The fluid will build up in the intestinal tract and move towards the colon until after the baby is born. This substance that is formed is called meconium and is normally expelled within 24 hours after the baby is born, get excited for some sticky black poops from your precious newborn while at the hospital.
You and Your Body at Pregnancy 22 Weeks
You already know your baby is getting bigger and stronger every week. The top of your uterus has made its way up to above your belly button. With this belly growth, you may be starting to have internal thoughts and feelings about your body image. This emotional struggle is not uncommon for women as they progress through their pregnancy and wonder if their partner will still love them or if they will ever look the same as they did before becoming pregnant. Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin, and you should know that you are beautiful inside and out. Don’t be afraid to speak up about your struggle with a friend or your primary care physician.
Feeling friskier lately? Some women find the second trimester a great time to get back in the bedroom. Since your first trimester, you will likely have noticed you have more energy, less soreness in your breasts and reduced nausea. All of these symptoms have been reduced because of hCG levels gradually decreasing and progesterone and estrogen levels balancing out. Not feeling up to it quite yet? You are not alone. A decreased libido may be caused by fears of miscarriage, pain while performing intercourse, a decrease in the ability to orgasm or the awkwardness of self-perception. These are all viable reasons to not be in the mood. Talk with a friend or your OB if you are concerned about your desire for sex.
Typical Symptoms at 22 Weeks Pregnant
As you have probably figured out, it's not uncommon to be experiencing similar symptoms through your second trimester as you did in the first. These symptoms might include: backaches, vaginal discharge, upset stomach, mild cramping, nasal congestion and shortness of breath.
Dark spots or discoloration of the skin especially on your chin, upper lip, cheeks and forehead is known as ‘chloasma’ or ‘melasma’. Although these spots can be galling to look at, they are completely normal during pregnancy. Chloasma affects 50-70% of women and can occur in the second and third trimesters. It is caused by an increased amount of hormone levels of progesterone, melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and especially high estrogen levels that trigger the change in pigmentation or can be worsened by sun exposure. To reduce the pigmentation change, stay out of the sun or use sunscreen if you can’t avoid it. If your prenatal doesn’t have folate, be sure to jump on one that does and get even more of this essential vitamin through leafy greens, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables. Melasma is typically short lived and resolves for many women after giving birth.
Noticing any lumps, itching or soreness around your anus or rectum? Hemorrhoids are not uncommon during this time in your pregnancy. The pregnancy hormone progesterone can cause constipation which worsen hemorrhoids due the veins near your large intestine being strained when passing stool. You may also notice spots of mucus or blood. Be sure to eat foods that are rich in fiber like fruits, vegetables, chia and flax seeds and drink plenty of water. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant women drink 64-96 ounces (8-12 cups) per day. Use a water bottle that you can reuse everyday which can help you track the amount of water you are consuming on a daily basis.
Pregnant Week 22 Tips & Advice
Are you beginning to notice any of these symptoms: cramping in the abdomen, regular or timed contractions, dilation of the cervix, fetal fibronectin, or any vaginal bleeding/spotting? These could be signs of preterm labor and should be discussed with your OB. If indicated, your OB may order a fetal fibronectin (fFN) test. fFN is a protein produced between the amniotic sac and mothers uterus to hold up the integrity of the barrier between the two. Your doctor would run this if they want to rule out the possibility of any risks of preterm labor and delivery.
Continue with your light daily physical activity but try adding in some pelvic floor exercises to begin strengthening your pelvic muscles. Gentle kegels consist of squeezing and releasing your pelvis as if you had to pee and were trying to hold it in. This will work to prevent any leakages when you cough, sneeze or laugh.
You are probably feeling pretty good (now that your morning sickness has diminished). It is a great time to schedule a long weekend getaway with your partner which could be more difficult once the baby arrives. ACOG recommends planning any travel between weeks 14-28 as this is the time you have more energy and are still able to move relatively well. After 28 weeks, you may find it difficult to stand or sit for long periods of time.
Building a bond with your baby starts well before the birth. Take time this week to connect and appreciate your little one. Grab your favorite children’s book to read outloud, play some classical music, use an at-home fetal doppler to listen to your baby’s sweet rhythm or write in a journal about your experiences and feelings you are experiencing during this incredible journey to motherhood.