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.
Fetal development this week
Brain and nervous system development
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 .
Sensory organ development
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 .
Internal organ development
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 .
How big is your baby?
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 .
Belly and body changes during pregnancy week 22
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 .
22 weeks pregnant ultrasound
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 .
Pregnancy week 22 signs and symptoms
- Fluid retention 
- Gas and flatulence
- Acid reflux, indigestion and heartburn 
- Leg cramps 
- Increased appetite
- Feeling out of breath
- Stretch marks (especially around the belly, thighs and breasts) 
- Emotional changes and depression
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Round ligament pain
- Pelvic pain 
- Joint, hip and back pain 
- Itchy skin, especially around the belly, back and breasts
- Increased vaginal discharge 
When to call the doctor
- Bleeding or spotting with or without other symptoms like abdominal cramps, back pain, nausea and tiredness 
- Lots of yellowish or clear watery discharge (might indicate leaking amniotic fluid)
- Severe itching, especially of the hands and feet (might indicate a rare liver disorder obstetric cholestasis) 
- Constant headaches along with blurred vision, palpitations, shortness of breath, upper stomach pain and sudden swelling of the hands and feet (might indicate high blood pressure or preeclampsia) 
- Burning sensation during urination accompanied by yellowish jelly-like or white thick discharge and extreme lower back pain (might indicate kidney or yeast infection) 
- Having the symptoms of excessive thirst, dry mouth, extreme fatigue, vision changes and increased urination (might indicate gestational diabetes) 
- Severe morning sickness, nausea and/or vomiting lasting for over 24 hours
Tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby
- Considering joining a childbirth education class as they can help you find out more about labor and relaxation techniques that help to cope with it, in addition to giving you a chance to talk to other expecting couples 
- Drinking plenty of water and including lots of fiber in your daily diet as these help to keep constipation in check
- Avoiding processed foods such as white bread and pasta as much as possible as they tend to slow down the digestive process 
- Wearing comfortable low-heeled shoes you can just slide your feet into, so you do not have to bend over for shoe laces
- Following a regular exercise routine involving prenatal yoga, swimming or walking; avoiding any repetitive, jerking exercise like running or jogging 
- Doing regular pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles (more about the pelvic floor during pregnancy)
- Trying to keep tabs of the fetal movements (might be a bit difficult at the moment, but the habit will come handy as your pregnancy advances)
- References +