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26 weeks pregnant


Foetus at 26 weeks pregnantYou baby at 26 weeks

  • At 26 weeks your baby's hands are developed and she has the cutest miniature fingernails.
  • She still looks red and wrinkly but she is laying down fat under her skin and this will transform her.
  • Her skin is now forming layers. There is the surface area or epidermis and the deeper dermis layer. The surface of her skin still has its waxy protective coating that will stay (at least partially) until she is born.
  • She has developed her startle reflex, which means she jumps when scared.
  • When she hears your voice she will move in response. Researchers think that at this age they can teach babies to respond to sounds. A team of researchers stimulated babies to kick by making a loud noise. After the babies got used to kicking in response to a loud noise, the researchers placed a vibrating probe on the mother's abdomen immediately following the noise. The babies learnt to kick when they felt the vibration. They didn't need the loud noise first to stimulate them. But there's no evidence you can train your baby to be a professional footballer before they're born.
  • Your baby's heart has slowed to a less challenging 140 to 150 beats from 180 a minute.
  • She opens and closes her mouth when she swallows amniotic fluid. At 26 weeks she has half a litre to swallow and spit out, and her pool of fluid is changed or recirculated every three hours.

Your body at 26 weeks pregnant

Back pain You're almost bound to get some lower back pain at some point in the middle or towards the end of your pregnancy. This is partly because the big lump you are carrying throws you off balance and your lower back tilts backwards.

If you have been pregnant before, or even if this is your first time, your abdominal muscles may not be strong enough to compensate for the backwards tilt. Back pain isn't curable in pregnancy, you have to avoid making it worse - by developing good posture, not lifting anything without bending your knees and by having regular rests.

When resting you may want to lie down on your side - with a pillow between your knees - to take the pressure off your back.

  • Don't wear stilettos as they push your body the wrong way (even more forward than your baby does)
  • Some women find that swimming helps - it's great anyway for making you feel weightless and giving you good exercise that benefits your baby as well
  • If you have to stand for a long time, hold your shoulders back and keep your legs apart, but essentially avoid it
  • If you have a toddler to lift, bend your knees and lift and use your muscles in your legs to lift him up

Dizziness This is common now because so much of your blood volume (a quarter) is shunted to your baby and uterus. Lots of blood is pooling in your large veins, which have relaxed to accommodate the extra blood circulating round your body.

So, when you stand up, your circulation isn't ready for you and until the blood in your pelvis gets a move on and reaches your brain you will feel light headed. This is worse in hot weather because the blood pools even more in your legs to keep you cool. 

  • Get up gradually and let your blood flow adjust
  • Don't get out of a hot bath too quickly as your body will not be able to adapt in time and you will feel light headed in a slippery area
  • If you feel faint, sit with your head between your knees or lie down and lift your legs above the level of your heart so your blood flow gets a helping hand in redistributing itself
  • Don't worry about your baby, she will be fine, although you should avoid lying flat on your back for long periods as the uterus presses on the large veins in your body (a rare design fault)



Pregnancy Encyclopedia book coverIllustrations taken from The Pregnancy Encyclopedia, £25, published by DK.

Disclaimer: The information in the pregnancy calendar is for general information and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or antenatal team. Not all babies develop at the same time and in the same way, so this week-by-week guide may not always match your own experience. If you have any worries, consult your antenatal team or GP.

Last updated: 4 months ago