You are well into the sixth month of your pregnancy, probably already singing and reading to your baby. Your baby is growing fast and if he were to be born this week, he would have had 50% chances of surviving . This is the only time you will be happy about gaining weight, knowing that the extra weight is beneficial for your little one’s growth. Make sure your diet contains lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods rich in calcium, iron, folic acid and other vitamins.
24 weeks pregnant: fetal development
The brain activity level at this stage is almost equal to that of an average newborn, as the brain cells have developed enough for conscious thought and probably even memory .
Internal organ development
The fetal lungs are now preparing for breathing in oxygen instead of fluid , gradually developing cells and branches for producing a chemical agent named surfactant. It will play a vital role in inflating the air sacs in the lungs while breathing once your baby is born .
Sensory organ development
The developing sense of hearing, along with the maturing brain, makes it possible for your baby to hear and memorize familiar sounds, such as your voice or a song. Studies show that newborns recognize songs they heard repeatedly when in the womb . Development of the inner ear (that controls balance) is almost complete in the 24th week, enabling your baby to realize when he is right side up or upside down while floating in amniotic fluid .
Although the eyelids are still fused shut, all the principal parts of the eyes, including the iris and retina, are already in place . However, the irises still lack pigmentation while the retina takes another month to mature properly. Since he cannot see yet, your baby uses his little hands and feet for maneuvering and improving his sense of touch  while the taste buds continue to grow as well .
By the 24th week, the baby’s face is fully formed with eyebrows, eyelashes and hair ; however, they are still white as there is no pigmentation. The skin is slowly turning opaque as the fat layer develops underneath it .
You may feel an increase in fetal movement at this stage as babies are usually most active between the weeks 24 and 28. After that, they grow too big to have much space for performing those flips and kicks . However, if you are carrying twins, the babies will already have limited space.
By this week, most babies start responding to external sounds, such as calming down by soothing music or getting more active when there is a loud noise .
How big is your baby this week?
The baby is going through a growth spurt and has grown almost as big as an ear of corn , being 11.81 inches (30 cm) long and weighing around 1.32 pounds (598.7 gm) .
Belly and body changes in pregnancy week 24
The top of the uterus can be felt about 2 inches above your bellybutton this week . With the growing baby bump, the skin around your belly, back and breast is stretching considerably, leading to stretch mark and itchy skin . Small pimple like elevations (Montgomery’s Tubercles) may develop around the areolas that secrete an oily substance for nourishing the nipples . You may also notice a yellowish fluid leaking from the breasts as your body continues producing colostrum in its preparation for breastfeeding .
24 weeks pregnant tests and ultrasound
Your doctor might schedule a glucose screening or oral glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes , a serious pregnancy complication that can occur anytime in the late second or third trimester. This screening test is generally performed between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, or earlier for those with high risk of gestational diabetes . The raised levels of pregnancy hormones increase the chances of high blood sugar levels, especially during the later months. A urine test may also be ordered to check for ketones in the urine in high risk cases .
An ultrasound done this week will show you how your baby’s skin is turning opaque due to the fat formation, so you will no longer be able to see her growing blood vessels and internal organs.
Pregnancy week 24 signs and symptoms
- Indigestion, heartburn and constipation 
- Braxton Hicks contractions 
- Linea nigra 
- Swelling or edema of the arms and legs
- Dry, itchy eyes, sensitive to light 
- Blurred vision 
- Leg cramps 
- Back pain as well as pain in the joints, ribs and hips
- Stretch marks, especially on your abdomen, breasts and hips 
- Runny or congested nose
- Feeling dizzy or faint if getting up too quickly from a sitting or lying position (as the increased blood volume slows down the blood circulation, temporarily lowering of the blood pressure)
- Depression and mood swings
- Itchy rash (PUPPP) on the expanding belly, thighs and back 
- Dark patches on certain skin areas and skin tags
When to call the doctor?
- Having the symptom of vaginal bleeding or spotting along with menstrual-like abdominal cramps or a dull lower back pain, feeling pressure in your pelvic area, diarrhea, uterine contractions and/or leaking thin, clear fluid (a combination of these symptoms might indicate preterm labor) 
- Persistent headaches with extreme tiredness, sudden vision changes, sudden swelling of the ankles and feet, upper stomach pain and shortness of breath (might indicate preeclampsia) 
- Having a combination of symptoms including severe fatigue, extreme thirst, severe nausea, vision problems and increased urination (might indicate gestational diabetes) 
- One-sided abdominal pain, pain during urination, blood in urine and urinary tract infections (might indicate development of kidney stones as pregnancy increases the risk of the condition) 
- Burning sensation during urination along with lower back pain, yellowish jelly like or thick white discharge (might indicate a kidney or yeast infection) 
- Experiencing light spotting, mild stomach cramps, pelvic pressure and a change in vaginal discharge (might indicate cervical insufficiency or an open cervix) 
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for over 24 hours
Tips for a healthy pregnancy
- Using an over-the-counter eye drop (after consulting your doctor) to fight the dry and itchy eyes 
- Keeping your feet elevated whenever sitting down as it helps to reduce the swelling 
- Following a light exercise routine (going for a short walk every day) or doing prenatal yoga, as it helps you maintain good posture, fighting second trimester symptoms like back ache and edema as well as preparing your body for labor and delivery 
- Starting to keep count of your baby’s movement
- Practicing sleeping on your left side as it improves the circulation in your body, whereas lying on your back restricts blood flow to the placenta by pressing on a major vein
- Consulting your doctor before using products like stretch mark creams, moisturizers or hair colors (although most hair colors are considered safe after the first trimester )
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