26 Weeks Pregnant

At 26 weeks, you are at the end of the sixth month of your pregnancy and are about to enter your last trimester. The little changes taking place in your baby this week are vital for him to have proper reflexes once he is born. Premature babies born during the 26th week have around 50% survival rate [1].

You are probably doing a little better in terms of the symptoms as you continue with a healthy diet and lifestyle along with your prenatal yoga classes. But don’t worry if you are down with terrible pelvic pain or morning sickness as your pregnancy is unique and unlike that of your sister’s or even your own earlier ones.

Fetal development this week

Immune system development

One important development this week is that of the immune system as your baby gets ready for the outside world by soaking up antibodies from you [2].

Picture of 26 Weeks Pregnancy Fetal Development

 

Sensory organ development

The 26th week is considered a landmark as this is when your baby starts to blink those tiny eyes [3] after having them sealed shut for so many months for the development of the retina [4]. At the same time, the development of the nerves in his ears is almost complete, allowing him to hear you as well as your partner during a conversation [5].

Growing brain-wave activity

The brain wave activity is settling in, with their patterns resembling that of a full-tem newborn at this stage [6]. Apart from an increased activity level, a heightened fetal pulse rate is a common response to noises and little pokes to your belly [7].

How big is your baby?

This week, the fetus is about 14 inches (35.56 cm) long from head-to-heel [8], weighing around 1.68 pounds (762 gm), almost the size of a zucchini [9].

Fetal movement during the 26th week

The sleep and wake patterns of your baby are getting more pronounced as he is likely to be active at night after getting some sleep during the day. In most cases, the kicks and punches become more evident when you try to get some rest [10]. Some of them might even hurt as he is getting quite big. It is advisable to count these kicks throughout the day so any decrease in fetal movement can be detected immediately [7]. In a few more weeks, your baby will start getting a little cramped up in the womb, with less space to perform those somersaults; but, there will still be lots of room for him to grow.

Week 26: Your pregnant belly, weight gain and body changes

You can feel the uterus about 2.5 inches above your bellybutton at week 26 [7], while your belly will grow about 0.5 inch every week from this point forward [11]. With a healthy diet and lifestyle, you should have gained 18 to 23 pounds by this week, while the ideal weight gain level for the coming months is 1 pound per week [6]. The uterus continues to stretch out, weakening your abdominal muscles, shifting the center of gravity of your body and pressing on certain nerves and ligaments, aggravating existing lower back and hip pain [5].

26 weeks pregnant tests and ultrasound

The fetal hand co-ordination is improving steadily due to the improving nervous system, with an ultrasound scan showing your baby constantly bringing his hand up to his face [10].

26 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Picture

26 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound Picture

Glucose screening, blood tests and antibody screening might be performed this week to rule out gestational diabetes or check the Rh factor [11]. A positive result to the glucose screening generally calls for a glucose tolerance test to confirm the diagnosis for gestational diabetes [12].

Pregnancy week 26 signs and symptoms

  • Braxton Hicks contractions [13]
  • Round ligament pain
  • Occasional difficulty breathing and pain under your ribs (as the growing baby stretches and puts pressure on your ribcage) [6]
  • Symphysis pubis dysfunction
  • Leg cramps [14]
  • Jaw, knee and other joint pain
  • Swelling or edema of different body parts (mainly due to water retention) [2]
  • Forgetfulness or “pregnancy brain” [15]
  • Gas, bloating and constipation [7]
  • Indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn [6]
  • Depression and emotional changes
  • Headaches and migraine (due to stress and pregnancy hormones) [13]
  • Dry itchy skin, especially around the belly, thighs and breasts
  • Linea nigra and stretch marks [10]
  • Hot flashes (due to the increased progesterone levels)
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia) and restless leg syndrome
  • Appetite loss and metallic taste in your mouth (rare)

When to call the doctor?

  • Severe itching of the palms and feet without any rash (might indicate obstetric cholestasis, a rare liver disorder) [16]
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting along with considerable lower back pain, abdominal cramping, uterine contractions, clear watery discharge and pressure in your pelvic area (these can be early signs of premature labor) [17]
  • Development of lumps in the breasts (although they are quite common in the third trimester, it is recommended to inform your doctor in any case) [10]
  • Pain or burning during urination accompanied by back pain, lower abdominal pressure, frequent urge to urinate and yellowish or clear jelly-like or thick white discharge with a foul odor (might indicate UTI [18] or a kidney or yeast infection [19])
  • Unilateral swelling or one foot more swollen than the other (might indicate a blood clotting disorder) [20]
  • Severe diarrhea and/or vomiting lasting over a day
  • Constant headache, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, sudden edema (of the feet and ankles) upper stomach pain, severe nausea, vomiting and sudden vision changes (a combination of these symptoms might indicate preeclampsia) [21]

Tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby

  • Making sure to include lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods (e.g. whole grains, cereals) and foods rich in vitamin B (brown rice, lentils) in your diet as your nutrition is vital for the fetal brain development; fiber and vitamin B help to fight constipation as well [22]
  • Drinking lots of water, as it helps to fight the common symptoms of hot flashes, constipation, water retention and swelling by flushing out excess fluids [23]
  • Having a glass of fresh orange juice (sugar-free) with your breakfast every day as it is an excellent source of vitamin C, promoting proper gum health, in addition to helping your body to absorb iron [24]
  • Including lots of leafy vegetables and fruits, like spinach, kale, corn and squash, in your daily diet as they are rich in lutein – a nutrient essential for eye health
  • Joining prenatal classes so you can stay well-informed about the changes occurring in your body as well as what to expect during labor and delivery; it is more important in multiple pregnancies as twins tend to arrive early, so keep your hospital bag ready from the 26th week [25]
  • Taking a relaxing warm (not hot) bath or applying a cool compress to relive the pain resulting from the growing uterus
  • Maintaining good posture and lying on your side (preferably left) whenever resting; bending your legs at the knees and placing a pillow between them can help you rest better [5]
  • Eating frequent small meals as it helps fight heartburn while keeping the blood sugar levels even [26]
  • Following a regular exercise routine as it helps you cope with back pain and tiredness while strengthening you muscles and ligaments [27]

[ref]

  1. http://umm.edu/health/medical/pregnancy/labor-and-delivery/what-happens-if-my-baby-is-born-prematurely
  2. http://pregnant.thebump.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/26-weeks-pregnant.aspx
  3. http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/pregnancy_calendar/week26.html
  4. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/your-baby/week-26/eyes-open.aspx
  5. http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-26-weeks_1115.bc
  6. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-26-30
  7. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-26.aspx
  8. http://www.babycenter.com/slideshow-baby-size?slideNumber=24
  9. http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/how-big-is-your-baby-this-week/#page=25
  10. http://www.bounty.com/pregnancy/26-weeks-pregnant
  11. http://americanpregnancy.org/weekbyweek/week26.htm
  12. http://americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/glucosetest.html
  13. http://www.pregnancycorner.com/being-pregnant/pregnancy-week-by-week/26-weeks-pregnant.html
  14. http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/pregnancy/trimesters.html
  15. http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/memory_lapse_it_may_be_pregnancy_brain
  16. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-25-26-27-28.aspx#close
  17. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/signs-and-symptoms-of-preterm-labor-and-what-to-do.aspx
  18. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/urinary-tract-infection.html#c
  19. http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/vaginal-yeast-infections-topic-overview
  20. http://www.medicinenet.com/swollen_ankles_and_swollen_feet/article.htm
  21. http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/sign-symptoms#sick
  22. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/26-weeks-pregnant
  23. http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/26/
  24. http://similac.com/pregnancy/26-weeks-pregnant
  25. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/preparing-for-twins-multiples.aspx
  26. http://www.pampers.com/diapers/26-weeks-pregnant
  27. http://www.webmd.com/baby/exercise-during-pregnancy [/ref]