Growing lungs, growing baby
Week 23: Breathing practice begins
Much of your baby's development during the 23rd week of pregnancy focuses on preparing her for her first real breath once she is born. Here's what's happening this week:
- Your baby probably weighs slightly more than a pound now, and she's about the length of an ear of corn.
- Your baby's lungs develop rapidly this week as your baby prepares for birth. - Her lungs are producing a substance called surfactant that allows the lungs to inflate and deflate without collapsing or sticking together.
- Blood vessels in your baby's lungs also are growing and developing in preparation for breathing.
- Your baby is practicing breathing-like movements for practice, moving amniotic fluid in and out of her lungs.
- Although your baby is getting all of the oxygen she needs from your placenta, this practice is important for developing her diaphragm muscles.
- By your 23rd week of pregnancy, your baby actually looks like a baby. She still has little body fat and still is trying to fill out her wrinkly skin.
Your Week 23 nutrition and health
What you should know about your weight gain
While many developments are occurring within your body during Week 23, you, like many pregnant women could find yourself wondering about weight gain. This often happens when you see a consistent gain on the scale from week to week.
Pregnancy typically involves weight gain. This extra weight provides nourishment to your developing baby and also is stored to aid breastfeeding after your baby is born.
According to the Institute of Medicine 2009 guidelines, by the 23rd week of pregnancy, most women of normal weight are gaining an average of a pound a week. For women at a normal weight range (ask your doctor where you are), pregnancy weight gain should range between 25 and 35 pounds. Most weight gain should occur during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
Where is the weight going?
According to the fifth edition of Your Pregnancy and Childbirth published by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, these are estimated weights. Please note that the weight gain of every woman and baby is different.
Baby: 6-1/2 to 9 pounds
Placenta: 1-1/2 pounds
Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
Uterus: 2 pounds
Heavier breasts: 2 to 3 pounds
Additional blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds
Increased fluids: 3 to 4 pounds
Fat storage: 6 to 8 pounds
Stretch before you exercise
Stretching exercises help make your muscles limber before you start your exercise routine. Here is an easy one. Relax your neck and shoulders. Drop your head forward. Slowly rotate your head to your right shoulder, back to the middle, and over to your left shoulder. Complete four slow rotations in each direction. Always check with your doctor regarding any new exercise regimen.
Feeling off balance?
Clumsiness is a normal part of pregnancy as your baby rapidly grows. Not only is your center of balance off at 23 weeks pregnant and beyond, but the hormones that are loosening joints and ligaments can make it difficult to be graceful.
If you are feeling off balance, try these tips:
- Take special care and do even normal activities more slowly.
- If you do fall and are concerned, alert your doctor. But remember that your baby is well protected within your uterus and is inside a protective cushion of amniotic fluid.