Baby's Growth and Development at 22 Weeks Pregnant
During your 22nd week of pregnancy, your baby is starting to discover a world around him as his senses continue to develop.
- When you’re 22 weeks pregnant, your baby is about 7½ to 8 inches long head to rump, around the length of a head of cabbage, and weighs about 1 pound.
- Your baby's sense of touch and taste progress significantly this week.
- Taste buds begin forming.
- Your baby's brain and nerve endings mature enough to process the sensation of touch.
- Your baby's reproductive system continues to develop. In a boy, his testes begin to descend. In a girl, her ovaries and uterus now are in place and her vagina develops. She already has all of the eggs she'll need for her own reproductive life.
- When you’re 22 weeks pregnant, the surface of your baby's brain, which has previously been smooth, begins to develop folds. This creation of hills and valleys in the brain will continue until the 34th week of pregnancy, when your baby's brain will have enough surface area for a full complement of brain cells.
- Your baby continues to hear sounds from the outside world. Although these sounds are muffled behind the amniotic fluid and the protective covering of vernix, your baby soon recognizes your voice.
Your Changing Body at 22 Weeks Pregnant
Around your 22nd week of pregnancy, you might notice your body begins "practicing" for your baby's upcoming birth.
- You might feel your baby's first real kicks. If you haven't already, you probably will soon. This will be much different from the fluttery quickening you've felt in the past weeks.
- Colostrum, likely your baby’s first meal after birth, continues to develop in your breasts.
- You might breathe faster, but by your 22nd week of pregnancy, your shortness of breath has probably lessened.
- Your uterus expands beyond your navel.
- Many of the typical second-trimester symptoms that you might already have noticed could continue at 22 weeks pregnant, including back pain, increased vaginal discharge, nasal congestion, and sensitive gums.
- By the 22nd week of pregnancy, your uterus might practice for labor and delivery with occasional "warm-up" contractions called Braxton-Hicks contractions.
- Braxton-Hicks are called false labor. They are very different than the contractions in true labor.
- These contractions should be painless and irregular and vary in length and intensity. They will not cause you to dilate. See the differences.
- At first, it might be easy to mistake Braxton-Hicks for real contractions, especially if this is your first pregnancy. If you have more than 6 contractions in an hour, they last at least 30 seconds, and don’t go away when you move around, contact your doctor.
Wellness and Nutrition at 22 Weeks Pregnant
Around the 22nd week of pregnancy, you probably are visiting your doctor for another prenatal checkup.
- This month's appointment will be similar to previous checkups as your doctor checks your health and your baby's progress.
- Your doctor might tell you about an upcoming glucose screening test — a routine test that checks for gestational diabetes. You might take this test at your next appointment, sometime between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.
In pregnancy nutrition, what you don't eat or drink can be just as important as what you do. Here's a quick reminder of a few foods to avoid:
- Skip certain seafood. Fish can be a great source of protein and iron. The omega-3 fatty acids can help promote your baby's brain development. However, some fish and shellfish might contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury.
- Avoid undercooked poultry or other meats. During pregnancy, you might be more susceptible to bacterial food poisoning with changes in your metabolism and circulation. Fully cook all meats for safety. This includes warming hot dogs, deli meats and cold cuts until they are steaming.
- Don’t choose cheese made from non-pasteurized milk, as it might contain harmful bacteria. Most cheese in the U.S. is pasteurized, but to be safe check the label.
- Limit your caffeine. Remember, caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby's heart rate and breathing. Ask your doctor about how much caffeine is safe to have during pregnancy.
- Eliminate alcohol. No amount of drinking has been proven to be safe during pregnancy.