Here's what to expect now that you're 22 weeks pregnant and over halfway through your pregnancy. Plus, now that you're well into your second trimester, it's a good idea to start reading up on pain relief options. Decisions, decisions!
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What’s happening at 22 weeks?
Here are the key things you can expect from your pregnancy at this stage:
- Your baby should be quite active around now – often when you're trying to get some rest!
- You may experience dizziness and feel light-headed at times.
- Your baby bump is probably pretty noticeable now!
- Anxiety and tears can kick in again; make sure you know the signs of antenatal depression.
How big is your baby?
This week, your baby is about the size of a medium box of Cadbury Heroes, measuring around 27.8cm from crown to heel and weighing about 430g.
Just like you, your baby is starting to a get into a pattern of sleeping and waking now – although it’s probably not the same as yours! Chances are when you’re lying still in bed (trying to get to sleep), your baby will be leaping around.
As always, do try to tune into these movements, so you gradually get to know what's normal for your baby. If you think the movements have changed or slowed down, get in touch with your midwife immediately .
As for baby's features, the eyes have formed although they won't have the pigment that turns them blue, brown or green yet. In fact, you won't know your baby's true eye colour until they're about nine months old, as some babies' eyes gradually change colour once they're exposed to light after the birth.
Your baby is covered in fine hair (lanugo), and their lips, eyebrows and eyelids are becoming more pronounced.
What's going on with your body at 22 weeks?
Your bump's probably expanding nicely now and you may even notice that your belly button's gone from an 'innie' to an 'outie'.
If you haven't already noticed them, you may be getting stretch marks under or across your bump, too. Although these won't disappear, they will fade gradually after you have the baby. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to prevent them, but many women swear by using a good moisturiser during pregnancy anyway.
It’s quite common to feel dizzy or a bit light-headed now. This can be caused by low blood pressure, so make sure you don't rush to your feet too quickly as this can cause dizziness.
Or, you might be slightly anaemic , where your body doesn’t get the iron it needs to produce enough red blood cells. This can also make you feel tired, dizzy, weak and short of breath.
Speak to your GP or midwife if you're concerned so that you can have your iron levels checked and start taking iron supplements, if necessary. Otherwise, make sure you’re eating lots of iron-rich foods, such as meat, eggs and dark green leafy veg, such as spinach.
You may notice that your hair and nails are growing faster than ever. But your skin may be becoming more sensitive. Make sure you use gentle products and always use an SPF when the sun's out to avoid pigmentation or skin damage.
What to expect this week: anxiety and tears
You might have had a bit of a break from the dreaded mood swings (crying at kitten memes anyone?), but plenty of women report suddenly feeling overwhelmed by pregnancy with the sudden realisation that, having passed the halfway mark, they’re now on the home straight.
Don’t run away from your feelings: talk everything through with someone sympathetic, whether it’s your partner, a close friend, a relative or your midwife.
But while pregnancy-related stress and worries are one thing, while everyone has heard of postnatal depression, antenatal depression (or prenatal depression) is less well documented – although just as serious. Many women also suffer from anxiety during pregnancy.
It can be tricky to tell if your feelings are normal, or if you could benefit from extra help. Many of the symptoms of pregnancy depression and anxiety are also part and parcel of pregnancy.
Still, check through the list below and if you have any, all or a combination of the following symptoms – or simply don't feel ‘right’ – then do mention these to your midwife, obstetrician or GP:
- constant tears and feelings of sadness
- sleepless nights and difficulty concentrating
- a general feeling of anxiety
- irritability with yourself, your partner/family and the world in general
- lack of appetite
- fatigue and wanting to stay in bed all the time
- difficulty leaving the house/handling social situations
You may feel that you don't want to 'bother' anyone with your anxieties, or that talking to someone won't help. But depression and anxiety are both common in pregnancy, and study after study has shown that getting the right help can really help you to feel better and enjoy your pregnancy.
The first-line treatment is usually talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). But there are also medications that are considered fairly safe to use in pregnancy.
Your doctor, midwife or therapist will help you weight the risks and benefits of different treatment options, so you can make the best decision for yourself and your baby.
If you're just feeling a bit low at times, but don't think you need professional help, you can always talk to friends and family. Or join your due date club in the Netmums forum (if you haven't already), to chat to other pregnant women who are due at the same time as you and may be facing many of the same worries and concerns.
You can also head to our maternal mental health drop-in clinic , where trained Parent Supporters with experience in the field of depression and anxiety can answer any questions you may have.
What to do this week: read up on pain relief
Whether you’re from the nothing-but-natural or give-me-everything-you’ve-got camp for pain relief, it’s worth investigating all the options.
You may think you’re going to go one way, but actually find you want or need quite a different path as labour progresses (and this really can go both ways), so it’s a good idea to know what to expect from each.
Your preferences will form part of your birth plan, so chat it through with your midwife at your next appointment. This should happen when you're 25 weeks if this is your first baby, or at 28 weeks otherwise.
Your midwife will most likely talk through your options. These are:
- TENS machine – helpful in early labour, this works by sending tiny electrical pulses to electrodes that you fasten onto your back. These tiny impulses stimulate your body into producing natural endorphins that block the pain signals in the body.
- Warm water – whether a warm bath in the early stages of labour at home, or a hospital birthing pool , warm water can help alleviate pain. Don't make it too hot though, as it's not good for your baby if you overheat during pregnancy. As a rule of thumb, if your skin turns bright pink, add more cold water.
- Hypnotherapy and hypnobirthing – breathing and relaxation techniques can prove helpful for pain relief as well as keeping labour progressing. If you'd like to try hypnobirthing, it's best to start practicing the exercises from about 25 weeks, so you may want to book a class or buy a DVD now.
- Gas and air – also known as Entonox, although it doesn’t take the pain away it can help take the edge off.
- Pethidine – this is an opiate like morphine that is injected into your leg.
- Epidural – this injection into the spine is the only way you can have total pain relief in labour. If you want to have a epidural, you'll need to be booked in for the hospital labour ward as this isn't a pain relief option for a birthing centre or home birth.
Alternative pain relief methods – such as homeopathy, aromatherapy and acupuncture – aren't usually recommended, as there's no strong evidence that they can help with labour pains. If you want to try them, speak to your midwife.
Your 22 week to-do list
1 Make sure you've booked to have your whooping cough jab done, ideally before you're 32 weeks, as recommended by the NHS.
2 Double-check when your next antenatal appointment is. It should be booked in for when you're 25 weeks pregnant if this is your first baby, or 28 weeks if you've had a baby before. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you may be seen more often.
3 If you're heading off on a pre-baby holiday, make sure you stock up on a high SPF as your skin can become particularly sensitive during pregnancy.
4 If pregnancy swelling means that your rings are getting a bit tight around your fingers, stop wearing them while you can still get them off. They'll fit again once you've had your baby!
5 Buy some breast pads . Many women find that their breasts start leaking during pregnancy, as they start making colostrum – baby's first milk. Even if you don't experience leaking before the birth, you'll certainly need breast pads after it, so it's worth stocking up now.
What to watch this week...
Get expert tips on what to expect at 22 weeks pregnant from our midwife.
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