Those of you who are 24-weeks pregnant, or simply planning for the time, have a lot to consider at this late stage of pregnancy. Your brain is likely running all the way from figuring out a birth plan to planning for when the baby has actually arrived. Luckily, we have all the tools to help you prioritize.
For insights into parenting the first several months of a child’s life, check out Z Living’s series Birth Days, where we chronicle this crazy period of parenthood.
The show is a great post-birth reference, but in the time leading up to it, there’s plenty to learn first. Here’s Z Living’s comprehensive guide to being 24-weeks pregnant.
How Is The Baby?
This is the age of viability, the age when your baby has a good chance of surviving outside the womb. In many hospitals, 24 weeks is the cutoff point for when doctors are prepared to use intensive medical intervention to attempt to save the premature baby’s life, although some set that mark as early as 23 or even 22 weeks.
Of course, if your baby is born this early, they will generally require much medical intervention, followed by a lengthy stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But if you’re feeling you’re not ready, not to worry, chances are that you still have a number of months to go.
Also on Z Living: 25 Weeks Pregnant: Choosing A Birth Method
Your Baby’s Growth:
- Body size: Your baby weighs just under 1.7 pounds (750 grams) and measures almost 12 inches (300 millimeters), or about the length of a large banana.
- Head characteristics: All the anatomical parts of the eyes are completely developed, but your baby’s eyes are not yet opened, nor do the irises have pigment. His or her eyebrows and eyelashes are nicely outlined although all the hair is still white as there is no pigment yet. Rapid eye movements begin around this time too.
- Body appearance: Your little one still has reddened skin and a few wrinkles. They are essentially a thinner version of the baby you will hold in your arms in a few months. The baby is also accumulating a brown fat on his or her body. The purpose of the brown fat is to retain body heat. Newborns find it hard to regulate their body temperature at first, a problem that worsens if the baby is premature.
- Internal organs: Your baby is working on developing his lungs, practicing breathing by inhaling and exhaling the amniotic fluid.
24 WEEKS PREGNANT WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE YOUR BODY?
As your uterus expands, it may cause the following to worsen: back pain, leg cramps, sore ribs. Your frequent headaches are another pregnancy challenge, but if they are bad or are migraines, its worth making a note when they occur and their duration to share with your obstetrician.
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome: This week you may find you have tingly and numb wrists, hands and fingers. This is caused by the extra pregnancy weight pressing on your nerves, especially the ones in your back. While it can be uncomfortable it will pass as soon as you give birth.
Also on Z Living: 26 Weeks Pregnant: Time For A Babymoon
How Different Will You Look?
If you used to be an innie, this week you may find your belly button pops out. You may find tying your shoes and bending over are more difficult as your belly expands too. Your baby is growing rapidly, adding about six oz. every week, and that extra weight means more stretch marks. Make sure you moisturize daily to ease the itchiness and help your skin to recover.
Red itchy palms: This week you may find that you have red itchy palms or redness on the soles of your feet. This is one of those weird pregnancy symptoms that scientists cant yet explain—it could be because of increased hormones, blood flow etc. There’s not much you can do about this symptom, but wait till the baby is born. If they are irritating, try not to do things that make them worse dishwashing, too-hot showers, tight-fitting gloves or socks.
For Fathers, How Can You Care For Both Of Your Loved Ones?
This is the week where you baby hits the age of viability—a time when she could, with a bit of help from the ICU, survive outside the womb. Why dont do something to celebrate? You only have three more weeks left of her second trimester when the gestation period will be over and things will start to get more intense. A prenatal massage is always a treat, or a romantic weekend getaway. You know her better than anyone, so your suggestions are probably best.
Also on Z Living: 5 Parenting Truths We Learned From ‘Birth Days’
For Mothers, Tips To Help You Through Your Trimester.
Plan your baby’s birth:
- What is a birth plan? A birth plan is a way of telling everyone who is involved in the birth (dad, doctors, nurses, midwives, birth companion, etc.) about what you’d like to happen during the birth, what sort of care you want and what you want to avoid.
- Why should it be flexible? Your birth plan has to be more like a guide than a set of clear instructions. Labor can be unpredictable, and you dont want your doctor to feel that their hands when making choices that are best for your health. Acknowledge that these are your preferences, subject to the things going according to plan. Offer first, second and third-choice options. By preparing yourself for multiple scenarios, your choices are more likely to be respected.
- What should it include? You should include whether you want a home or hospital birth, delivery position, what sort of pain relief, whether you want to use a birthing pool, and if so, whether you want to use it before or during the actual delivery, birthing companions, whether you want to bottle or breast feed, whether you want to use forceps or a vacuum, how you want your babys heart monitored with a handheld sonic device or with a monitor strapped to your waist. You may be offered an injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta, called active management, once the baby is out, and you should decide whether you are fine with this or want the placenta to come out, if possible slowly and naturally.
- Learn about your options: A birth plan helps you learn about your options. If you are going to decide on, for example, whether to chose Demerol or an epidural, its worth knowing whats involved with both. Go to your prenatal classes. Talk to people who have made your choices. If that’s not possible, talk to your midwife and obstetrician about the advantages and disadvantages of your options.