Week 26 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 26

Verywell / Bailey Mariner 

At 26 weeks pregnant, your baby's eyes have fully developed, and they're even sporting newly visible eyebrows and eyelashes to accompany them. Meanwhile, your body may be showing more evidence of all that growth and development in the form of stretching skin and possibly some new stretch marks.

26 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 6 months and 2 weeks

Which Trimester? Second trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 14 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 26 Weeks

At 26 weeks, a baby is almost 9 1/4 inches (23.4 centimeters) from the top of their head to the bottom of the buttocks (known as the crown-rump length), and baby's height is about 13 inches (33.3 centimeters) from the top of the head to the heel (crown-heel length). This week, baby weighs just about 32 ounces or 2 pounds (902 grams).

Eyes

All the parts of your baby's eyes are formed. Your baby even has visible eyebrows and eyelashes.

Reflexes

Baby is beginning to display the startle or moro reflex as well as the palmer (hand) and plantar (foot) grasp, all reflexes you'll see them perform as newborns.

Reproductive System

If you’re carrying a boy, the testicles may begin to descend into the scrotum this week.

Intestines

Your baby's intestines also continue to grow and develop. They are absorbing more and more nutrients from the amniotic fluid and producing enzymes to break down nutrients such as sugars, proteins, and fats for digestion.

Survival Outside the Womb

While your baby still has plenty of growing and maturing to do, advances in modern medicine give babies born at 26 weeks an excellent chance of survival. These babies are still extremely premature, but with specialized care in the NICU, survival rates are as high as 85%. As each week passes and brings the baby closer to term, the chances of survival go up and the risks of life-long health problems go down.

Explore a few of your baby's week 26 milestones in this interactive experience.

Your Common Symptoms This Week

As you near the end of your second trimester, you may be still be feeling pretty good. But, you may also be experiencing common symptoms like Braxton Hicks contractions, nasal stuffiness, leg cramps, mild swelling of your ankles, or back pain. Other symptoms that can begin as your belly and baby continue to grow are rib pain and stretch marks.

Rib Pain

Your baby is getting bigger and taking up more room in the abdominal cavity. Depending on your baby's position, you might feel pressure as well as kicks and jabs in different areas including your ribs. Your hormones, weight gain in your body and breasts, and other symptoms such as heartburn could also contribute to rib pain.

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are scars that appear on the skin in the shape of streaks or lines. They develop as skin stretches too quickly. While stretch marks can develop in both men and women in any stage of life, they are especially common in pregnancy and show up in between 55% to 90% of pregnant women.

While stretch marks pose no health concerns, they can be irritating and cause itchiness or burning. Over time, however, these symptoms and their appearance tend to fade. Typical places where stretch marks form during pregnancy include the breasts, belly, hips, and thighs.

Self-Care Tips

Sharing your body with another human can get uncomfortable, especially as your baby takes up more room in your crowded belly causing physical discomfort and big changes in your body's appearance.

Dealing With Rib Pain

Pregnancy-related rib pain often gets worse before it gets better. But you can count on getting a little relief once the baby drops and full relief after the baby is born. In the meantime, you can try:

  • Shifting your position to a more comfortable one.
  • Gently pressing on your abdomen to get the baby to move.
  • Practicing pregnancy yoga or prenatal stretching.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Investing in a comfortable, supportive bra.
  • Wearing a belly support band.
  • Using extra pillows when you sit or lie down to help you get comfortable.
  • Asking about alternative therapy such as acupuncture or chiropractic treatment.
  • Talking to your healthcare provider about safe pain medication, if necessary.

Dealing With Stretch Marks

Stretch marks can be uncomfortable, and their initially striking appearance can have an impact on body image. Your risk of getting stretch marks depends on several factors including your genetics, age, and weight. While there is no way to fully prevent stretch marks if you are predisposed to them, there are some things you can do to help minimize them during pregnancy, including:

  • Gaining your pregnancy weight slowly and steadily.
  • Eating healthy, balanced meals to maintain good nutrition.
  • Keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized.

Many women wear their pregnancy stretch marks as a badge of honor. After all, they are physical evidence of the amazing work your body did growing your baby. But it's also OK if you want to reduce their appearance.

Over time, the color of your stretch marks will naturally fade. To aid the process, you can also see a dermatologist after your baby is born for treatment options including medicated creams, laser treatments, and light treatments that may reduce their appearance.

Consider a Birth Plan

If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to start thinking about your birth preferences and writing a draft of your birth plan. A birth plan is simply a written document that outlines your preferences for your labor and delivery. It should reflect how your healthcare provider, hospital staff, partner, and any other members of your chosen support team can help you have a positive birth experience.

Think of this as an opportunity to explore your options; discover what you want and what you’d like to avoid; identify questions you may have; and feel more confident about what to expect.

What Experts Say

“I actually find that a woman with a birth plan is the ideal patient to work with. She’s done her research and has taken the time to distill what’s important to her.”

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

According to Dr. Hill, a great place to start developing your birth plan is by:

  • Asking yourself important questions like: What would an ideal birth look like for me? What’s really important about my birth experience?
  • Avoiding a list of “I don’t wants” and “I only wants" as these statements alone don't help your healthcare provider understand the reasons behind your preferences, which is what’s most important.
  • Understanding that if labor takes an unexpected turn, your plan will not stop your healthcare provider from offering or proceeding with appropriate interventions for your health and your baby's safety.
  • Including instructions on how you’d like to receive information while in labor and postpartum (e.g., all the details versus just the big picture).
  • Writing down what consent means to you, what makes you feel safe and respected, and what kind of contact and touch is helpful.
  • Acknowledging that birth plans need to be fluid and that you are allowed to change your mind.

Your Week 26 Checklist

  • Continue eating healthy, balanced meals.
  • Continue prenatal exercise and Kegel exercises.
  • Moisturize your growing, stretching skin.
  • Start researching and writing your birth plan.

Advice for Partners

Between week 27 and week 36, your pregnant partner will get vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis), which ensures that mom’s antibodies will be passed on to baby, protecting them from the illness after birth.

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, should 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 going to be in close proximity to your little one.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Your next prenatal appointment will likely be around 28 weeks (the first of many third-trimester visits).

Your doctor may offer you the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, also called Tdap, between 27 weeks and 36 weeks in accordance with CDC recommendations to help protect your baby after birth.

If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, other specialized tests may be ordered, including:

Recommended Products

As your belly continues to grow, you may find that keeping your ever-stretching skin moisturized helps relieve some irritation and itching. While your favorite body lotion or oil can do the trick, many moms-to-be opt for specialized products that attempt to do double-duty by moisturizing the skin and potentially helping reduce or minimize stretch marks.

If you opt for a moisturizing stretch mark product, be sure that it's safe to use during pregnancy. If you're unsure, review the ingredients list with your doctor or midwife.

Special Considerations

One of the health conditions your provider will screen for during your pregnancy is gestational diabetes. The initial screening test is typically done between week 24 and week 28. If the results from the screening are outside of normal ranges, your doctor will order a follow-up test known as the 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The results of these two tests will determine if you have gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

Any new diagnosis during pregnancy can be scary, and gestational diabetes can put both you and your baby at risk for premature delivery and complications during and after birth. But by following your doctor's recommendations and receiving careful monitoring, you can work together to decrease the risks.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the best thing you can do for both your health and that of your baby is to take steps to keep your blood sugar levels under control:

  • Your doctor may recommend that you work with a registered dietician with experience in managing gestational diabetes through diet; if they do, embrace the additional support.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re consuming a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats with each meal and snack and seek new recipes and meal ideas that meet their recommendations.
  • Walk, swim, or take a prenatal fitness class; regular and moderate exercise can help your body better regulate insulin output and blood sugar levels.

Depending on your provider's recommendations, you may also need to test and monitor your blood sugar levels at home. If these maintenance measures don't successfully manage your blood sugar levels, your healthcare provider may also prescribe insulin.

Gestational diabetes generally goes away after you give birth. Once you've had gestational diabetes, however, your chances of developing it again with future pregnancies increases.

A Word From Verywell

This week, your baby continues to grow and if you could peek inside, you just might see them showing off some of the reflexes they'll display as a newborn. Next week marks the final week of the second trimester, and as you near your third trimester, your focus may begin to shift from pregnancy to labor are you start to think about your birth plan.

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Article Sources
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Additional Reading
  • Allison Hill, MD. Email communication. October, November 2017.