Your baby at 22 weeks is the size of a spaghetti squash. They are about 27.4cm from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length) and weigh approximately 476g.
Key developments are going on this week that are enabling your little one to make sense of the world from inside the womb.
Your baby at 22 weeks
Your baby is getting smarter each week. Even though they inhabit a very small space now, they’re becoming more familiar with their surroundings and preparing for life after birth.
Babies at 22 weeks are starting to process sounds that come from inside your body. This includes your heartbeat, your breathing, and your stomach rumbling. They also start to hear low-frequency sounds outside of the womb, like dogs barking and thunder.
As pregnancy progresses and their ears develop more, these sounds will become louder and louder.
You should now be able to hear the heartbeat of your 22-week fetus through a stethoscope. A baby’s heartbeat is faster than an adult heartbeat and will beat between 120 and 160 times per minute.
Sense of touch
Your baby’s nervous system is sharpening its senses. Their hands can now move independently. Their tiny fingers are starting to touch and grab their nose, ears – and even the umbilical cord.
Your body at 22 weeks pregnant
Week 22 of pregnancy brings with it a new list of possible pregnancy symptoms. Here are some common changes your body can go through during this period of pregnancy.
- Braxton Hicks. Often referred to as “practice contractions”, Braxton Hicks contractions are the result of the muscles in your uterus tightening and loosening. You can experience them as early as 20 weeks into a pregnancy, but they become more common the closer you get to your due date.
Braxton Hicks contractions are typically mild and irregular whereas labor contractions get stronger and are felt more frequently as time progresses. Although the exact cause is unknown, dehydration, stress, and illness are believed to be triggers. They usually go away when you change positions or get up and move around.
- Faster heartbeat. When pregnant, your heart pumps up to 30 to 50% more blood. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the placenta for your growing baby. Although having a faster heartbeat is normal, if you feel short of breath for long periods of time, or dizzy, make sure to call your healthcare practitioner.
- Hot flashes. Most women experience hot flashes at some point in their pregnancy. These can be attributed to hormonal changes as well as a faster heart rate, which raises your metabolism. They are most common at night, and may even lead to night sweats.To feel more comfortable during these slight spikes in your body temperature, drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothes, and keep your AC or fan at the ready.
- Edema. Notice that your rings are a bit tight around your fingers these days, or your shoelaces need to be loosened? The medical term for this is edema and it affects about three-quarters of pregnant women. It’s caused by the excess fluid in your body, which causes your feet, ankles, and hands to swell.
Although it can be a bit uncomfortable at times, it’s a totally normal symptom of pregnancy. To reduce some of the swellings, limit your salt intake, avoid standing for long periods of time, and wear compression socks to improve circulation.
Taking care of yourself when pregnant at 22 weeks
Self-care during pregnancy is very important – for both you and your baby.
Here are some tips and reminders for overall wellbeing at 22 weeks pregnant:
- Spend time with your partner. The second half of your pregnancy is an exciting time for both you and your partner. Setting aside time to connect before the baby is born is important – especially because things might get a bit hectic after your little one arrives.
Plan a date night, scroll through baby names together, watch pregnancy-related videos, or do whatever else you two normally enjoy doing. And remember, having sex during pregnancy is totally safe.
- Pay attention to your Calcium intake. Your baby requires Calcium to form strong bones. The level they need increases during the second half of pregnancy. Check that your prenatal vitamins have Calcium, or take an additional supplement.
It’s also important to get Calcium from the foods you eat. Low-fat dairy products, like milk and yogurt, are great sources of calcium. If you’re vegan and pregnant, dark leafy green vegetables, almonds, and Calcium-fortified products including plant milk and tofu, are all great options.
- Practice meditation/mindfulness. Meditation is a great way to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy a bit of “me-time”. This is especially important during pregnancy.
Studies have shown that meditation helps with anxiety, improves your peace of mind, and can even lower your blood pressure. All you need is a quiet space and a few minutes to yourself.
- Get plenty of rest. It’s normal to feel more tired during pregnancy, after all, your body is working hard to nurture a growing fetus. To ensure you get a good night’s rest, set a regular sleep schedule, and avoid looking at bright screens before bed. Also, never underestimate the value of a good power nap during the day.
Remember to avoid lying on your back, as this interrupts the blood flow of the inferior vena cava. Laying on your left side is the best sleep position for pregnancy; it improves your circulation and enables blood to flow more easily to the fetus.
Having gone through the “having-a-baby-and-returning-to work stage”, not once but twice, has made me wiser and given me time to think about how I would …