Tommy's PregnancyHub

My premature baby’s development in the womb – week 22

If you have been told you are at risk of a premature birth, you may be feeling anxious. Here’s some information about your baby’s development this week.

This information is for anyone who has been told that they are at risk of a premature birth

If you are not at risk of having a premature baby, we have information for you in our pregnancy calendar -our week-by-week guide to the stages of pregnancy.

Your baby's development this week

At this point in your pregnancy, your baby is starting to get into a pattern of sleeping and waking up. This may not be the same as yours, so your baby may be wide awake and wiggling about when you’re trying to sleep. 

Your pregnancy symptoms

Your baby’s movements

You may feel your baby move as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, but most women usually feel their baby moving between 18 and 24 weeks. 

Baby movements in the womb, also known as fetal movements or ‘kicks’, can feel like anything from a flutter, kick, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses.  

There is no set number of normal movements you should be feeling – every baby is different.  Your baby will have their own pattern of movements that you will get to know as your pregnancy progresses.

Find out more about your baby’s movements in pregnancy.

Other symptoms

If you are at risk of giving birth early, it’s important to take care of yourself. There are also some things you can do to try and reduce the risk of giving birth early.

Tell your midwife or doctor if you have any symptoms that you are worried about. Do not worry if you've talked about it before and don't be concerned about whether you're wasting anyone's time. This is your pregnancy and it's important to trust your own instincts if you feel something isn't right.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]

Symptoms of early labour

Call your midwife or hospital maternity unit straight away if you think you are in early labour. It may be a false alarm, but it’s best to get checked out. Find out more about the symptoms of early labour

Your mental health

If you have been told that you are at increased risk of giving birth early, it’s important to try and reduce stress and take care of your emotional health. Find out more about coping with the idea of a premature birth.

What may happen if your baby is born this week

This information may be difficult to read. If you have any questions about your pregnancy or risk of premature birth please talk to your doctor or midwife.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]

Sadly, most babies born at this gestation will not survive labour and birth. At 22 weeks, this is known as a late miscarriage.

Approximately 7 in 10 babies die if they are born now, even if they are born alive and receive treatment to try and save their life. Of those who do survive, 1 in 3 babies born at this time will have a severe disability, such as cerebral palsy.

Up to 1 in 4 of children without a severe disability may have a milder disability, such as learning difficulties, behavioural problems or mild cerebral palsy. 

Every baby is different and it is important to talk with your doctors and midwife. They will give you specific information about your own and your baby’s condition. The chances of your baby’s survival and long-term health will depend on several things, not just the week they were born. How much your baby weighs, their gender, and how well you and your baby are when you give birth will all have an impact.

Your doctors will talk to you about what your options are and help you make decisions about what’s best for you and your baby.

You and the team may decide that it will be best to provide palliative (or ‘comfort’) care to your baby, either because there is an extremely high risk that your baby will not survive or they are likely to suffer from life-long disability, even with the very best treatment. Palliative care means providing treatments that will make them as comfortable as possible until they pass away. 

NHS. You and your baby at 22 weeks pregnant. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/13-to-27/22-weeks/ (Page last reviewed: 17 July 2018 Next review due: 17 July 2021)

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2012) Your baby's movements in pregnancy: information for you, London RCOG

British Association of Perinatal Medicine. (2019) Perinatal Management of Extreme Preterm Birth before 27 weeks of gestation. British Association of Perinatal Medicine https://hubble-live-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/bapm/attachment/file/182/Extreme_Preterm_28-11-19_FINAL.pdf