Week 23 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 23

Verywell / Bailey Mariner 

At 23 weeks pregnant, your baby is getting stronger and more active. It's now easier to tell that those little kicks are actually your baby and not just gas bubbles. You may also be feeling warmer than usual and possibly notice some changes in your eyes and vision.

23 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 5 months and 3 weeks

Which Trimester? Second trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 17 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 23 Weeks

At 23 weeks, a baby is typically 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) from the top of the head to the bottom of the buttocks (known as the crown-rump length). The baby's height is over 11 inches (28.9 centimeters) from the top of the head to the heel (crown-heel length). This week, the baby weighs approximately 20 ounces or 1 pound 4 ounces (565 grams).

At 23 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the length of a Jellycat monkey!
 Verywell / Bailey Mariner 

Activity

Your baby is building more muscle and getting stronger. They are also very active. You might be feeling a lot more movement.

Brain Growth

The baby's brain is developing very quickly during this time.

Eyes

A baby can respond to light as early as 23 weeks. If you shine a flashlight on your belly, your baby may react and move.

Fingernails

The baby's fingernails now reach the tips of the fingers.

Survival Outside the Womb

It is very rare for babies born before 23 weeks to survive. However, extremely premature babies born during the 23rd week of pregnancy do have a chance of surviving. Babies born this early are still not ready for life outside the womb. They require a high level of specialized care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Research shows that in developed countries, between 23% and 27% of babies born at 23 weeks survive to go home with their family.

Explore a few of your baby's week 23 milestones in this interactive experience.

Stay Calm Mom: Episode 3

Watch all episodes of our Stay Calm Mom video series and follow along as our host Tiffany Small talks to a diverse group of women and top doctors to get real answers to the biggest pregnancy questions.

5:58

How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

Your Common Symptoms This Week

This week, you might be dealing with pregnancy symptoms such as food cravings, leg cramps, forgetfulness, Braxton Hicks contractions, or round ligament pain. Two other symptoms you may notice are hot flashes and vision changes.

Hot Flashes

You might be feeling warmer than usual. More than one in three people who are pregnant experience hot flashes during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones and weight gain are likely to blame.

Eyesight

Extra fluid in the body and hormone changes during pregnancy can lead to eye and vision issues. Symptoms you might experience include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Changes to your eyelids
  • Dry eyes
  • Irritation or pain from your contact lenses

Self-Care Tips

Eating a balanced diet and taking prenatal vitamins are great ways to get the nutrients you need during pregnancy. Adding a little exercise will help keep your body healthy and your weight within the recommended guidelines. Spending time outdoors can also boost your mood and encourage more physical activity.

Get Some Sun

This week, you might want to try to spend some time in the sunshine. A little sunlight is healthy for you and your baby. Research shows that exposure to light during pregnancy is important for the baby's eye development. Spending some time outdoors is also good for your mental health and well-being.

The sun is an excellent natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for your baby's bone growth, brain development, and future mental health. In adults, vitamin D promotes strong bones, a healthy immune system, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in pregnancy and is more common if you have certain risk factors. You might be at risk for vitamin D deficiency if you:

  • Are vegetarian
  • Completely cover yourself when you go outdoors
  • Have a darker skin tone
  • Live in a cold climate

To get enough vitamin D, you can:

  • Take prenatal vitamins. These can contain 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D. If needed, your health care provider might recommend additional supplementation.
  • Safely spend a little time in the sun. 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week without sunscreen on your face, arms, legs, or back can typically provide you with all the daily vitamin D you need.
  • Supplement vitamin D through your diet. While there are not many adequate food sources of vitamin D, your best bets are fatty fish (like salmon and tuna), fish liver oil, and commonly fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals. Just be mindful of weekly serving limits for certain fatty fish (because of its mercury content).

Dealing With Hot Flashes

Hot flashes might get worse as your pregnancy progresses. They can also hang around for a little while after giving birth. You should be feeling back to normal once your hormones level out in the postpartum period. In the meantime, try your best to find ways to stay cool.

  • Cool off in a lukewarm shower
  • Drink plenty of water or other healthy fluids to stay hydrated
  • Open a window to let in cool air if the outside temperature allows
  • Use a handheld fan
  • Use paraben-free wet wipes to cool and freshen up your skin
  • Use the air conditioning or a fan to cool the room
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes

Caring for Your Eyes

If you're having any issues with your eyes, talk to your doctor. Most of the time, eye and vision changes during pregnancy aren't dangerous, and they go away once the baby is born. But, sometimes underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can cause more serious conditions. During pregnancy, you should:

  • Avoid vision correction procedures, such as LASIK
  • Consider waiting to get new prescription glasses or contacts until a few months postpartum
  • If your condition requires monitoring, seeing a specialist, or treatment, follow your doctor's instructions for care
  • See your eye doctor for regularly scheduled exams
  • Tell your doctor about all your symptoms

Your Week 23 Checklist

Advice for Partners

While your partner is likely planning to take some time off from work to have the baby and recover, you also might want to take some time off to spend with your new baby. If you work outside the home, it’s time to talk to your employer about your options. You can schedule a vacation or use sick time. You can also look into your eligibility for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage.

FMLA entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child. However, not every parent-to-be will qualify.

FMLA eligibility requires that:

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

If you don’t qualify for FMLA, your employer still might allow you to take unpaid leave. Some companies are increasingly offering some paid time off for new parents, but it's the company. It's best to discuss your options in advance and plan ahead as much as you can.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Special Considerations

It's natural to worry about going into labor too early, especially if you are at increased risk. Here's what you need to know.

Preterm Labor

Labor before 37 weeks is called preterm labor. Preterm labor doesn't always mean the baby will be born but sometimes it isn't possible to stop the birth.

Preterm labor is a concern because babies born early are not fully developed and ready for life outside the womb. Premature babies need special care and often develop serious health issues.

You may be at risk for preterm birth if you:

The symptoms of preterm labor include:

If you are concerned about preterm labor or experience signs of labor, contact your health care provider and go to the hospital to be examined by a provider. If they determine that labor has begun, they will try to stop preterm labor or hold it off as long as possible to give your baby a chance to develop more.

A Word From Verywell

While your baby is still developing and not quite ready to join the world, it's now possible that the baby could survive outside the womb with highly specialized care. Each week that passes from now until birth gives your baby an even better chance of survival. Still, it's nice to know that only about 0.5% of babies are born before the third trimester.

Next week, at six months pregnant, you might see your doctor for your next prenatal visit.

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Article Sources
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