Week Twenty Six: Second trimester ends this week
You are 26 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 23 weeks)
The fetus makes breathing movements, but there is no air in the lungs yet. Hands are active and muscle coordination is such that they can get a thumb into the mouth. Thumb sucking calms the baby and strengthens the cheek and jaw muscles.
The fetal brain scan will show response to touch. Touching and playing with the baby is possible now, as they may respond to your touch through your belly wall. Brain growth continues with brain wave activity for the visual and auditory systems starting to develop. Baby is probably very active in the womb, as the most active weeks are typically between weeks 24 and 28.
You may begin feeling your belly tighten and relax at odd moments or irregular intervals. These are Braxton Hicks contractions. They are painless and help the uterus prepare for the birth. Many babies have developed a predictable routine for sleep and active periods. Twins may have entirely different routines from each other.
If your back is feeling the strain of your growing belly, try doing some pelvic rocks to relax it. Stand with your back against the wall, knees slightly bent. As you inhale a breath, press the small of your back against the wall. Exhale and relax your back. You may be experiencing shortness of breath as the uterus is very close to the rib cage at this stage. Some moms are not able to fully expand their rib cages; however, this does not negatively affect the baby in any way.
The end of week 26 marks the end of month six, which is the last month of the second trimester.
The network of nerves in your baby’s ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear both your voice and your partner’s as you chat with each other. He’s inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs. These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he’s born and takes that first gulp of air. And he’s continuing to put on baby fat. He now weighs about a pound and two-thirds and measures 14 inches (an English hothouse cucumber) from head to heel. If you’re having a boy, his testicles are beginning to descend into his scrotum — a trip that will take about two to three days.
Baby’s now the size of an eggplant!
Baby’s soaking up your antibodies, getting her immune system ready for life outside the womb. Eyes are forming, and she’ll soon be practicing the blink…perfect for batting those freshly grown lashes.
Your baby’s nostrils are opening up, so she’ll be able to practice breathing through her nose as well as her mouth. Her eyes are developing the ability to focus, although she’ll only be able to see objects 6 to 8 inches away at birth. Her lungs are maturing and she’d have an 80 percent chance of survival if she were born now.
Lengthwise, your baby’s growth has slowed down now, but she’s still gaining lots of fat. Her movements are likely to be strong enough to be seen from the outside, and you may be able to make out the rough shape of a protruding foot, elbow or bottom. The network of nerves to her ears are now fully developed, and she’ll noticeably react to external noises. She’s also likely to have a burst of activity just after you’ve eaten.