22 weeks pregnant
By week 22, you’re very clearly pregnant, you’re probably feeling your baby move inside you, and will be starting to make firm future plans, from baby names to where you’re going to put the Moses basket. Here’s what’s happening with your baby at 22 weeks pregnant and how your body is changing this week.
Your baby at 22 weeks
Week 22 and your baby is becoming a proper little detective, using her newfound body and brain to begin to decipher the world around her, tiny and enclosed as it is. But it’s all important practice for the day she’s born when, within seconds of breaking out of there, she’ll be bombarded with new sights, sounds and smells to get to grips with.
- At 22 weeks, her legs are now longer than her arms, and they’ll stay that way for good. The creases on her palms are also developing and her fingernails may reach the ends of her fingers this week, too.
- Her brain is mature enough for her to investigate anything she touches, so where she once moved away from things, she now reaches out for them.
- Sense of touch is developing for your baby at 22 weeks and she will stroke her face and feel other bits of her body. She's also starting to realise that various parts of her body are connected.
- She's more aware of her environment. Loud noises, bright light and being poked through your bump will all disturb her and she may even respond with a kick or a push of her elbow. You can get your partner to give your bump a gentle massage, which is a lovely way for him to bond with your baby now that she's making her presence known – it's also a good way to relax you and improve circulation.
- Until the late 19th century, doctors believed that babies were born deaf. Now we know that by 22 weeks in utero, your baby responds to many different sounds. She can hear a door slamming or loud music, and is lulled to sleep by the constant rhythmic sound of blood going through the uterus. It’s thought she prefers low sounds to begin with. Sadly, although she may well find it relaxing, playing her Mozart at this stage is not going to improve her SATs scores in year six. She would probably prefer you turned CBeebies up and let her listen in to that.
- She's growing tiny tooth buds in her gums already.
- She already has a cycle of waking and sleeping and will nod off pretty regularly, but only for short periods of time. You’ll also find she’s quieter in the day when the motion of you moving around lulls her to sleep and is more active at night time when you’re lying still.
- Her lungs are growing quickly now. The main tubes in her lungs have buds at the end of them and these alveoli ducts (like air sacs) keep budding. In a month's time, the alveoli will be surrounded by tiny blood vessels so that oxygen can pass from the air sacs into the blood. Before birth, her lungs are full of fluid, which contains lots of chloride, a bit of protein and some mucus. Closer to birth she will start producing surfactant, an amazing chemical that stops the air sacs collapsing when you breathe in and out. For the moment, though, she gets all her oxygen from the placenta. If you're a smoker, remember that the habit depletes oxygen in the placenta so you've never had more reason to give up.
- If she’s a girl, she’s developing mammary glands this week, and boys’ testes are descending.
Your 22-week bump
By this week you're likely to be really sprouting. Some women find this is the time their belly button pops and their 'innie' becomes an 'outie' (don't worry – it pops back in again after birth). While you will probably look very definitely pregnant, you won't yet be at the 'call Greenpeace' stage, so try to make the most of enjoying your bump at this time.
What size is the baby at 22 weeks?
At 22 weeks your baby is about 27.5cm long – about the size of a papaya – and weighs around 430g.
How is your body changing at 22 weeks pregnant?
Hopefully, you're continuing to bloom as well as grow this week. If everyone's commenting on your luscious locks, you can thank oestrogen, which stops old hairs falling out as new ones grow, while you're pregnant. You might also find that your contact lenses become uncomfortable around now, due to your eyes being drier than usual and also changing shape slightly. Have a word with your optician if you're having trouble.
Until now it’s seemed as though all the changes to your body were focused on keeping your baby fit and healthy, but actually, there’s much more going on than that. Pregnancy hormones are clever and complicated things and they’re already busy doing the important work of making you ready for motherhood.
In a review of the effects of pregnancy on your brain, psychologists from the University of California found that the changes in hormone levels during pregnancy are not only unique but have a purpose. They prepare us for motherhood by making us better at dealing with stress and putting us in touch with our baby's needs.
When your baby stirs at night, many women say it’s always them that sits up immediately while their partner snores on (though if you spot his eyelid flickering, your hormones may also cause you to suddenly elbow him in the ribs).
When you feel your baby moving in your womb it raises your heart rate and increases the rate at which messages from nerves are transmitted through your skin. Psychologists say all these things work to 'optimise' maternal behaviour. Amazing… Though it is worth knowing that some of this research was done on rats. Human mothers are likely to be more complicated.
22 weeks pregnant symptoms
With so much changing, both physically and emotionally, it’s little wonder if you find yourself unable to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow these days.
Some things, like avoiding caffeinated drinks, not eating too late at night, and investing in a pregnancy pillow to get you comfortable will all help, but if possible, it’s worth addressing the root cause of whatever is keeping you awake.
Unfortunately, if that happens to be your baby booting you in the bladder there’s very little you can do about that – perhaps use the time to investigate which pushchair you’re going to buy and tick that off your to-do list.
Around now, you're likely to start experiencing a bit of swelling and may find your ankles look a bit puffy by the end of the day, especially if you're pregnant over summer. Swelling (or oedema) doesn't usually become a problem until the third trimester but you can start to get swollen ankles and fingers around now. Try sitting down and raising your feet up high, or soaking them in some cool-ish water at the end of the day. If you get swelling that is sudden, occurs in the face, too, or is accompanied by vomiting or visual disturbance, seek medical attention, as it can, rarely, be a sign of a serious condition called pre-eclampsia.
Things to think about during week 22 of pregnancy
As things start to feel more 'real', lots of women find themselves beginning to worry about birth a little.
Your emotions about birth
Women often worry that the birth will be so painful they won't cope, or that their waters will break on the bus. These are both valid concerns (although you’re pretty unlikely to have your waters break in public). To allay your fears a bit try talking to others on the Mumsnet Talk boards, and at antenatal classes, as well as to friends and family who’ve been there and done it (and can be trusted not to tell you stupid horror stories about women with 15lb babies).
It’s also worth sharing how you feel with your midwives, who may well have answers for many (maybe all) of your fears and will be able to suggest ways of helping yourself to feel more relaxed and in control of things.
Above all, remember it’s natural to have worries. Birth is a big deal and, especially if you’ve never done it before, it’s very hard to anticipate what it will be like. To a certain extent, the best thing you can do is go with the flow, know that it probably won’t be nearly as bad as you fear and that even if it is pretty awful, it’s just one day out of your life – at the end of which you get to meet your baby.
I'm 22 weeks and have really struggled this week. I'm knackered, on the verge of tears (have cried on a midwife today), have argued with a bus driver (!), could quite easily walk out on my job, feel huge and cumbersome and just generally feel massively sorry for myself. If I could hibernate I would.
I saw my bump moving for the first time last night which was quite poignant and cheered me up.