Your baby is now about 8.6 inches (22 cm) from head to foot and weighs around 8 ounces (225 gm) at the start of the week—and about 9.9 ounces (280 gm) at the end of the week.
Your baby is growing quickly. The sensory organs—hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell—start to develop now. If you’re having a girl, around two million eggs will already be forming in her ovaries. The skin is coated with a white grease (vernix caseosa/the vernix) to protect the baby’s sensitive skin from the amniotic fluid. Some babies are still covered in this layer of grease when they’re born.
Most babies grow at about the same rate until halfway through pregnancy, and this is the point at which the individual differences in genetics assert themselves—some babies will be tall and thin, others a bit shorter and chubbier. Your baby’s birth weight is also affected by what the mother-to-be eats, so remember to eat a good, balanced diet.
Your baby is moving more and more in the uterus, and you may now start to feel the first movements in the form of a fluttering or rumbling—the real kicks come when your baby has grown a bit more. Or you may have been feeling this for several weeks. Every baby is different, and if you had a quiet baby the first time, you may be carrying a considerably livelier baby this time.
It’s usually easiest to feel the movements when you yourself are still. From the time you start to feel your baby’s movements every day, you should continue to feel them every day. This usually starts between week 20 and week 25. Generally speaking, you should feel your baby move in your uterus several times a day as of pregnancy week 25. Your belly gets bigger as your uterus grows, and some women notice that their navels start to protrude. This will gradually return to normal once your baby is born.
Your iron levels (hemoglobin levels) will be checked during several prenatal visits. You might remember this from last time? This is done with a finger prick. Low levels are called anemia.
Anemia is common, particularly in the middle of the pregnancy and is primarily cause by the increase in blood volume. Your blood is more diluted than normal (therefore causing a dip in hemoglobin levels). Your body needs more iron when you are pregnant. Anemia can also be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, a folic acid deficiency or an infection. Symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, heart palpitations and headaches/dizziness. The most common treatment is to take OTC iron supplements and eat more iron-rich food.
Examples of this type of food are meat, eggs, shellfish, blood sausage and liver. If you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, there is a lot of iron in wholewheat products, legumes, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. You may need to take iron supplements even if you eat an iron-rich diet to improve your levels. Your midwife is there to help. In very rare cases, it is necessary to administer iron intravenously.
Both your baby and the mother-to-be’s belly are growing rapidly. Why not massage skin lotion or a beautifully scented oil on your partner’s belly? The sensation of touch is wonderful, and the oil is soothing if your partner’s belly is itchy. Moreover, this can be a nice moment for all three of you since your baby will probably feel your movements.