Completing your 22nd week means you are about to enter the sixth month of your pregnancy. Your baby is probably moving quite a lot by now, letting you know of his existence. In the meantime, you are enjoying your pregnancy as the second trimester is often considered the best time while expecting.
The previously smooth surface of your baby’s brain starts developing intricate bumps and folds. This type of structural brain development continues until week 34, by which time the brain surface area will be enough for the necessary number of brain cells . The fat building up beneath the skin layer is also vital for nervous system development at this stage .
The 22nd week can be considered a landmark in the sensory organ development of your baby as the senses of touch, sight, hearing and taste develop considerably. Maturation of the nerve ending along with the growing brain contributes to better sensation of touch . He has already started touching his face and grabbing the umbilical cord (not too hard to cause any harm) with those little hands . His sight also continues to develop as he can now distinguish light from dark even better through those fused eyelids. However, the irises in his eyes still lack any pigmentation .
The fetal liver begins producing enzymes necessary to break down bilirubin, one of the principal byproducts of broken down red blood cells. The bilirubin levels are higher in a fetus because fetal RBCs have a shorter life. The bilirubin reaches the placenta to pass into your bloodstream so your liver can get rid of it . Another vital organ going through major development is the pancreas, essential for hormone production .
Your baby’s eyebrows and eyelashes are well formed by this week, while hair continues to sprout on top of his tiny head. However, there is no pigmentation at this stage, so the eyebrows as well as the hair are white . The eyes, nose, cheeks and lips are distinct at week 22 . The previously transparent skin is now somehow opaque due to the developing fat layer. However, the reddish, wrinkly skin is still covered in vernix caseosa .
The baby is around the size of a papaya with his crown to ankle length being around 10.9 inches (27 cm) . He weighs about 15.17 oz (430 gm) at this stage .
Your baby bump is now big enough for you to feel pregnant and for the rest of the world to know that you are expecting, yet you are not too large to be uncomfortable. This week, the uterus lies about 0.75 inch above your bellybutton . Weight gain tends to get steadier after the 20th week with the average weight gain being 225g a week .
Your increasing foot size may take you by surprise, but it is quite common to go up a shoe size in pregnancy (and remaining there for the rest of your life). Your pregnancy hormone relaxin is partially responsible for this body change, as the loosening joints and ligaments cause the bones to spread a little, leading to an increase in foot size . Edema or swelling of the feet may be another reason for this body change . You might even start feeling fetal hiccups this week – an odd rhythmic movement unlike the kicks and punches, which may last a few minutes.
The increased blood volume slows down the blood flow through your veins, leading to a drop in blood pressure, causing occasional hot flashes and dizziness .
This is the last week to have a level 2 ultrasound or fetal anomaly scan (it is usually performed between weeks 18 and 22); so, talk to your doctor regarding the scan if you have not already had it. The process involves assessing the fetal health and development with an ultrasound device . Your doctor might recommend an ultrasound in case you are carrying twins as multiple pregnancies are more closely monitored than singleton ones .
Published on July 8th 2014 by Pregmed Editorial Team.
Article was last reviewed on 13th August 2014.