Week 24 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Pregnancy Week 24

Welcome to week 24 of your pregnancy. It’s a good bet that your next prenatal visit is on the calendar for this week, and with it, your glucose screening.

 

Your Trimester: Second trimester

Weeks to Go: 16

You This Week

Did a dark vertical line suddenly appear down the center of your belly? It’s called linea nigra, and it’s nothing to worry about. In fact, about 80 percent of women develop this.

It’s likely caused by hormones released by the placenta that stimulate melanocytes, or melanin-producing cells. Linea nigra often fades within a few weeks to a few months after birth, though some women see it linger a bit longer.

Meanwhile, at this point in your pregnancy, your kidneys are working especially hard. Right now they’re tasked with filtering the maximum amount of blood volume that will occur during pregnancy. And that peak volume will hold steady until right before your due date. Your kidneys—a set of bean-shaped organs that sit below your ribs, behind your belly, on either side of your body—do more work when you’re laying down, and that’s even truer during pregnancy. That is one of a few reasons you likely need to use the bathroom frequently when you’re trying to rest.  

Your Baby This Week

Your baby-to-be will be over 12½ inches long by the end of week 24, and he or she will tip the scales at about 1¼ to 1½ pounds.

Right now, your baby is in rapid-growth mode, putting on about 6 ounces a week. Helping matters: More brown fat is depositing on your baby’s body. This fat does more than smooth out wrinkles—it helps baby retain body heat and regulate temperature.

At the same time, the branches of baby’s lungs are forming, as are the cells that will soon produce surfactant.

Surfactant is a naturally occurring chemical needed to inflate the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) in baby’s lungs when he or she is ready to breathe. (Babies born too early often have a hard time breathing because these cells either haven’t fully developed or can’t produce enough surfactant.) There’s actually no air in baby’s lungs yet, just amniotic fluid. But that doesn’t stop your baby from practice breathing.

Finally, your baby’s inner ear—which controls balance—is now fully developed. This means your somersaulting baby-to-be might actually know when he or she is upside down while floating around your amniotic fluid. While your baby is still very small, most doctors would say it has now reached the age of viability.

At Your Doctor’s Office

Between week 24 and week 28, your placenta is producing large amounts of hormones that may cause insulin resistance, making this the ideal time to perform a glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a temporary, pregnancy-induced form of diabetes where your body cannot produce adequate amounts of insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels.

While there’s more than one testing option, the glucose challenge screening is likely what you’ll be offered.

For this version, no pre-visit fasting is needed. You’ll simply be given a sweet, syrupy glucose solution to drink and, within an hour, your blood will be drawn to test glucose levels. “You may experience nausea, dizziness, and headache during the test due to your rapid intake of sugar,” notes Allison Hill, M.D., a private practice OB-GYN in Los Angeles. “These symptoms generally resolve within an hour, however.”

If your results indicate high insulin levels, you’ll undergo a second test called the glucose tolerance test, which involves fasting, a higher intake of glucose, and several blood draws.

Special Considerations

Tempted to get a keepsake 3D or 4D ultrasound at a pop-up shop? Don’t. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that ultrasounds should only be performed per the request of a healthcare provider and by a trained professional, such as a sonographer, radiologist, or obstetrician.

It’s true that ultrasound technology is widely considered safe, but know that businesses may be using machines that aren’t routinely checked for safety. In addition, a scan performed in a medical setting by a professional normally takes about 15 minutes. A commercial ultrasound can take an hour or more to get a keepsake-able image of your baby, and there are no studies that have examined the effects of frequent or sustained use of ultrasound on a growing fetus. Moreover, ultrasounds administered by untrained technicians might reveal a complication or abnormality that’s misinterpreted.

Finally, “it’s actually very rare to see a picture that looks like the ones in the advertisements,” says Dr. Hill. “Most of the time, baby’s face is pressed against your uterus or something else, making it very difficult to make out specific features.”

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Your next prenatal visit will likely be at 28 weeks—your third trimester. Starting at that point, you’ll begin to see your healthcare provider twice a month. Come week 36, you’ll see your healthcare provider on a weekly basis.

Taking Care

Heartburn is a common occurrence late in your second and throughout your third trimester. Your growing uterus is likely pressing upward on your stomach, decreasing its physical space. Plus, the hormone relaxin, which loosens joints and connective tissue readying for delivery, also slows digestion. As a result, food stays in your stomach longer, which allows for more reflux to move into the esophagus, causing heartburn. (Relaxin also loosens the muscles that keep stomach contents in their place.)

While antacids work to absorb and neutralize stomach acid, helping ease discomfort, and are safe to use during pregnancy, it’s best to work on prevention. Some things you can do:

  • Eat five or six small meals throughout the day, as opposed to three large ones.

  • Avoid lying down or bending over after meals for about three hours.

  • Avoid spicy, greasy, and fatty foods.

  • Add papaya, pineapple, kiwi, and apples to your routine. They contain beneficial digestive enzymes that help prevent heartburn.

  • Eat yogurt or drink a glass of warm milk before bed; it may help neutralize acid.

For Partners

Now is a great time to start thinking ahead to when the baby arrives and how you and your partner will adjust those first few days and weeks home with your newborn.

  • Will you be home to help with baby- and new-mom care for more than a few days?

  • Will another family member be staying with you (or nearby) to offer assistance?

If not, it’s smart to look into the idea of hiring a postpartum doula whose job it is to assist families with their new babies. This type of doula is there to “mother the mother” and to help with infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery, infant soothing, and basic newborn care. Research has shown that families have an easier time with the new-baby-new-parent transition if a good support team is in place.

The price of postpartum doula services varies, but in general, the costs can range anywhere from $15 to $50 an hour, with some offering discounts when you book and pay in advance. These services are not covered by insurance.

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.

  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.

  • Continue doing your Kegel exercises daily.

  • Add papaya, pineapple, kiwi, apples, yogurt, and/or warm milk to your diet if you’re experiencing heartburn.

  • Research the possibility of a postpartum doula.

Last Week: Week 23
Coming Up: Week 25

Sources:

Allison Hill, M.D. Email communication. October, November 2017.

Merck Manual Consumer Version. Physical Changes During Pregnancy. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/normal-pregnancy/physical-changes-during-pregnancy

Merck Manual Consumer Version. Stages of Development of the Fetus. http://www.msdmanuals.com/en-jp/home/women-s-health-issues/normal-pregnancy/stages-of-development-of-the-fetus

National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 24 Weeks Pregnant. http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/24-weeks-pregnant-symptoms-and-signs

Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD. Email and Phone Communications. October, December 2017.