Around week 24 of pregnancy, many pregnant women get a bit of a shock: Their belly becomes rock-hard! Before you think "OMG, what's going on?!" and start to worry, find out here why you can relax when experiencing "Braxton Hicks" and what else you can expect as you reach the end of the second trimester!
The fetus is around 12 inches long (crown to heel) and weighs approx. 1 lb.
Were you recently wondering how it would feel when your baby moved? Well you probably know the answer by now! With some pregnant women it is actually possible to feel the movements from the outside – perhaps your partner is waiting longingly for that. And it is no surprise that those kicks and elbows are easier to feel: The bones are now so strong that your little one can "sit" itself upright in your belly.
Your baby is now the size of a cantaloupe melon.
Your little one has now arrived at a major milestone: The alveoli in its lungs are developing. This is one reason why premature babies have a chance of surviving from week 24 of pregnancy – they require extensive medical intervention, but it is definitely possible! Every day counts, because the alveoli (lung sacs) still require a long time to develop and an important substance, surfactant, must be produced in large quantities to prevent the alveoli from collapsing.
The taste buds are now fully formed, and your baby can increasingly distinguish between the foods you have eaten due to the flavor of the amniotic fluid. The eyes are slowly starting to open. And something even more important is happening: White blood cells are being produced, and with them, an important part of the immune system is developing.
Perhaps you have already experienced this: All of the sudden your belly becomes rock-hard, as if you had swallowed a bowling ball. This can come as a complete shock to an expectant mother. Practice contractions can occur even earlier in pregnancy, although these initially only affect small areas of the uterus. The further the pregnancy progresses, the more the uterine muscles contract and the more you feel them.
During practice contractions, the belly can become uncomfortably hard and mild menstruation-like cramps may be felt, although there is rarely any severe pain. Practice contractions sometimes occur quite regularly, although with long intervals between them – genuine contractions come just a few minutes apart and in waves. Practice contractions usually disappear when you relax and very often with the application of warmth, for example in the bath.
You should visit your doctor if:
Stress and physical exertion can induce contractions – therefore make sure you get plenty of rest, raise your legs, and try to relax. In contrast to practice contractions, prodromal contractions help to move the baby lower down in the pelvis and are therefore usually only experienced during the last few weeks of pregnancy, and sometimes only when labor starts.
Your blood may be tested to determine your rhesus type and for certain antibodies. This is particularly important if you are rhesus negative and your baby is rhesus positive. This difference is not a problem during the first pregnancy. However, your body may harm your baby during subsequent pregnancies.
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