Week 23 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Welcome to week 23 of pregnancy. Reaching this milestone means you’re already five months pregnant. Have you thought about starting your baby registry yet?

week 23 pregnancy highlights
Illustration by Verywell

Your Trimester: Second trimester

Weeks to Go: 17

You This Week

At week 23, your uterus is now about 1½ inches above your belly button, which puts it squarely atop your bladder. The resulting pressure may result not only in frequent trips to the bathroom, but in unexpected leakage.

Most of the time, it will be urine, but it’s natural to worry that it could be amniotic fluid. After all, if your membranes rupture, amniotic fluid will appear as a constant trickle or a sudden gush. If you notice leaking and it appears to be odorless, it may, in fact, be amniotic fluid. Don’t jump to conclusions, but do contact your healthcare provider immediately to make sure everything is OK.

Right now, you have likely gained between 12 and 15 pounds. Some of that weight may be due to water retention, especially in your lower extremities. In part, the culprit is your growing uterus again, which is putting pressure on your veins. That pressure causes blood to push water into your tissues, which retain the excess and cause swelling.

Your Baby This Week

Your baby-to-be’s skin is still loose, giving him or her a wrinkly look. But rest assured, your baby is steadily gaining weight, which will fill him or her out. In fact, by week’s close, your baby will likely tip the scales at one pound and stretch to between 11 to 14 inches long.

Lanugo, the soft, fine hair that cover baby’s skin may become darker around now, making it visible on an ultrasound. Don’t worry: When your baby is born, he or she will not be furry. While you can sometimes see patches of lanugo at birth, most if not all of the hair falls off beforehand.

In more development news: Baby’s nipples are starting to form, and his or her face is almost exactly as it will be once he or she is born.

At Your Doctor’s Office

If you are at risk for preterm labor or birth, your healthcare provider may recommend corticosteroids injections. Corticosteroids help to speed the development of baby’s brain, lungs, and digestive system—and they’re most helpful when administered between week 24 and week 34 of pregnancy, but are often considered between 23 and 24 weeks, too.

Special Considerations

It’s natural to worry about preterm labor right now, especially if you’ve experienced unexpected leakage. The tricky thing with preterm labor (going into labor before 37 weeks) is that its symptoms can mimic those that occur in a normal pregnancy, such as cramping, lower abdominal pain, backache, pressure in the pelvic area, and/or a change in vaginal discharge.

If you’re experiencing these signs and are worried, call your healthcare provider immediately. He or she may check to see if your cervical and vaginal secretions carry any trace of fetal fibronectin (fFN), which is a protein produced by the fetal membrane. While it’s normal and expected to detect fFN early in pregnancy, the protein disappears after 22 weeks and should not return until week 38. If no fFN is found, it’s a good bet that you won’t be giving birth in the next week or so. The test is performed via speculum much like a Pap test and you get the results within 24 hours.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

As per usual, you’ll be asked to step on the scale at your next prenatal visit, which is likely next week. If you’re pregnant with twins, your weight gain might very well be synced up with the number of weeks along you are. In fact, most twin-carrying women are encouraged to gain 24 pounds by week 24; this target weight gain reduces your risk for preterm labor.

Twin pregnancy or not, you’ll likely get tested for gestational diabetes at your next prenatal visit. If you’re unsure if the glucose screening is on deck for you, call ahead since fasting may be required.

Taking Care

Whether you’re leaking urine or not, it’s a good idea to strengthen your pelvic floor (or Kegel) muscles, which are used to hold in urine. This type of toning can also help you develop more muscle-control during labor and delivery, making for an easier birth. Plus, it can help stave off hemorrhoids.

To locate your Kegels, squeeze the muscles that stop your urine flow. (Don’t make a habit of stopping your urine this way, however. This is simply how to pinpoint the correct muscles.) Once you’ve found the muscles, squeeze for five to 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 to 20 times at least three times daily.

For Partners

While you’ve likely talked to your partner about her parental leave, if you work outside the home, it’s time to talk to your employer about how much time—in any—is offered to you. While the Family Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, not every parent-to-be will qualify. FMLA eligibility requires that:

  • You’ve been employed with the company for 12 months
  • You’ve worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of FMLA leave
  • Your company employs 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius of the worksite

If you don’t qualify for FMLA time off, your employer may still allow unpaid leave, but it’s solely at their discretion. Some companies are increasingly offering some paid time off for new parents as well. Learn more about your options now.

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Think about starting your baby registry.
  • Start or continue doing Kegel exercises daily.
  • Look into Family Medical Leave Act benefits for both parents.
Overview of Pregnancy Week 24
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