What does my baby look like?
Over the next few weeks, your baby’s taste buds will continue to develop and they’ll be busy practising swallowing in readiness for life outside your womb.
They get all their oxygen from your blood via the placenta until they take their first breath after they're born.
Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen in the placenta, so it’s very important to stop if you’re still smoking.
Your symptoms - what to expect
Spotted a stretch mark?
Stretch marks are pink or purple marks that appear on your bump, or possibly boobs and thighs. They eventually fade to silver.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy make your skin more prone to stretch marks as your bump grows. Creams that claim to prevent or stop them are unlikely to have any effect, because they can’t penetrate deep enough to where the damage is.
However, it won’t hurt to very gently massage your bump with nice oils or creams if you find it relaxing, and might make you feel better about your new ‘badges of honour’.
Keep an eye out for swollen feet and hands
If rings on your fingers feel a bit tight or your shoes a bit snug, this is probably due to the increased fluids in your body, known as oedema.
However, get medical advice from your midwife, doctor or the hospital straight away if you have the following signs:
- Sudden severe swelling
- Swelling on your face as well as your hands and feet
- Bad pain under your ribs
- You are vomiting
- You have a severe headache or problems with your vision.
These symptoms can be signs of pre-eclampsia.
Actions to take
Is it safe to diet during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is not the right time for a weight-loss diet. It is a time to eat well for both you and your baby. If you try to lose weight, you and your baby may miss out on nutrients that you need to stay healthy and strong.
If you’re concerned about weight gain, remember that if your diet is healthy, much of what you put on will be lost with the birth of your baby and the placenta.
Don't forget your pelvic floor!
Make sure you give your pelvic floor muscles a workout as part of your daily routine. Toning up your pelvic floor muscles will help you ease your baby out and recover more quickly after the birth.
They will also help stop you weeing by accident, especially when your growing baby starts to press on your bladder.
“I exercised throughout both my pregnancies, right up until my due date. I was a lot more tired in the second pregnancy, because I was running around after my daughter, but I always did something active because it made me feel better.”
Aileen, mum of two
2. You and your baby at 21–24 weeks pregnant, NHS Choices: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-21-22-23-24.aspx [accessed 5 May 2015] (last reviewed: 11 February 2015; next review due: 11 February 2017).
3. Mennella JA, Jagnow CP, Beauchamp GK (2001) Prenatal and postnatal flavour learning by human infants, Pediatrics 107(6): E88: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11389286 accessed 12 March 2015].
4. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall, pp. 370–2.
5. Brennan M, Young G, Devane D (2012) Topical preparations for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 11: CD000066: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23152199 [accessed 10 February 2015];How can I prevent stretch marks?Hide details
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.