Week 26 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Pregnancy Week 26

Welcome to week 26 of your pregnancy. As your belly grows, so does the anticipation of baby’s arrival. Your baby is increasingly giving you gentle (and not-so-much-so) reminders by way of more activity this week. It’s time to really start planning ahead for the big day.
 

Your Trimester: Second trimester

Weeks to Go: 14

You This Week

At 26 weeks pregnant, your uterus is likely feeling like a balloon steadily moving higher and higher up your abdomen. Now, the top of your uterus can be felt about 2½ inches above your belly button, and it will continue growing about a half an inch a week for the remainder of your pregnancy.

There is likely an uptick in baby’s movement this week, too, by way of kicks and jabs. If it hurts your ribs, shift your position or give your baby a hint that he or she should move. (Gently pressing on your abdomen where you can feel the baby often works.)

At this point, you will have likely gained between 16 and 22 pounds, and you may or may not be sporting stretch marks. Sometimes these “pregnancy stripes” don’t appear at all. Other times, they appear closer to delivery day.

Your Baby This Week

Your 26-week-old baby-to-be will be 2 whole pounds and stretch to about 13.38 inches long by week’s end. While baby’s organs and systems are nearly complete, there’s still a lot happening.

For instance, if you’re carrying a boy, his testicles have begun to descend into his scrotum. Baby’s once-transparent skin is moving closer to opaque, and eyelashes are sprouting on his or her still-shut eyes. Even though baby’s eyes are closed, he or she still senses light shifts through your abdomen and reacts to them.

At the same time, the nerves in baby’s ears are continuing to develop, allowing him or her to respond to out-of-womb sounds more consistently this week. All of this—plus the fact that baby’s nervous system is fine-tuning his or her little arms and legs—means baby is moving and kicking more and more.

At Your Doctor’s Office

If you’re carrying more than one baby; experiencing placenta problems; or if you have preeclampsia or eclampsia, there is a chance you’ll hear the phrase intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) at your doctor or midwife’s office. IUGR refers to slowed baby growth and it’s detected with fundal height measurements or an ultrasound.

If your healthcare provider detects a size discrepancy of two weeks or more, you’ll likely undergo regular ultrasounds to monitor baby’s growth, movements, blood flow, and the amount of amniotic fluid present. It’s also likely that you’ll get a non-stress test.

Special Considerations

If your recent glucose screening resulted in a gestational diabetes diagnosis, your healthcare provider will be monitoring you closely to help prevent complications, such as preeclampsia and premature birth. The best thing you can do for both your and your baby’s health is to keep your blood sugar levels under control as best you can. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Walk, swim, or take a prenatal fitness class. Regular and moderate exercise can help your body better regulate insulin output and blood sugar levels.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re consuming the proper balance of carbs and glucose. Too much of either can throw your blood sugars out of whack.
  • Increase your intake of fresh fruit and veggies.
  • Limit fat intake to 30 percent or less of your daily calories.

Depending on what your healthcare provider advises, you may need to test your blood sugar levels at home. If other measures aren’t working, your healthcare provider may advise that you take insulin.

Gestational diabetes generally goes away after you give birth. However, once you've had gestational diabetes, your chances are two in three that it will return in other pregnancies.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Your next prenatal appointment will be the first of your third trimester. And with this new trimester comes new discussions to be had.

For instance, you may want to learn about the pros and cons of cord blood banking and cord blood donation at your next visit. Cord blood is the blood that lingers in the umbilical cord and placenta post-birth. It contains stem cells that can be used to help treat a variety of medical issues such as leukemia, sickle cell disease, and metabolic disorders. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if banking or donation is right for you.

Taking Care

If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to start coming up with a birth plan. This is simply a written document that outlines your preferences during labor and delivery. It should reflect how your healthcare provider, hospital staff, and your partner can help you have a positive birth experience.

Think of this as an opportunity to discover which options you want and what you’d like to avoid; identify questions you may have; and feel more confident about what to expect. “I actually find that a woman with a birth plan is the ideal patient to work with,” says Allison Hill, M.D., a private practice OB-GYN in Los Angeles. “She’s done her research and has taken the time to distill what’s important to her.”

Some tips for putting together your plan, according to Dr. Hill:

  • Ask yourself: What would an ideal birth look like?
  • Ask yourself: What’s really important about my birth?
  • Avoid a list of “I don’t wants” and “I only wants." These don't help your healthcare provider understand the reason behind these preferences, which is what’s most important.
  • Understand that if labor takes an unexpected turn, your plan will not stop your healthcare provider from offering or proceeding with appropriate interventions.
  • Include instructions on how you’d like to receive information (all the details versus big picture).
  • Write down what consent means to you, what makes you feel safe and respected, and what kind of contact and touch is helpful.
  • Understand that birth plans need to be fluid and that you are allowed to change your mind.

For Partners

Between week 27 and week 36, your partner will get vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis). This ensures that mom’s antibodies will be passed on to your baby, protecting him or her from the illness.

But it’s not just moms-to-be who need to be vaccinated. All adolescents and adults who will be in close contact with your newborn, including caregivers, need to be up-to-date with their Tdap vaccine. Give your primary care physician a call to find out if you need the shot, and take on the job of sharing this information with those who are sure to be close to your little one.

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Continue doing your Kegel exercises daily.
  • Start researching and writing your birth plan.

Last Week: Week 25
Coming Up: Week 27

Sources:

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

American Diabetes Association. How to Treat Gestational Diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/how-to-treat-gestational.html

American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Week 26. http://americanpregnancy.org/week-by-week/26-weeks-pregnant/

National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 26 Weeks Pregnant. http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/26-weeks-pregnant-symptoms-and-signs

The Nemours Foundation. Kidshealth.org. Pregnancy Calendar Week 26. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/week26.html

U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Intrauterine growth restriction. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001500.htm