Welcome to week 23
You might have noticed an increase in interest in your bump – and sometimes from the unlikeliest people. Have you had random women sharing with you their (often disturbing) birth stories or been subjected to a constant stream of comments? Do people try to touch your bump? Or, in contrast, have you discovered that despite being clearly pregnant, you're not offered a seat on public transport? The best approach is to try to rise above horror birth stories; politely ward off any potential bump-patters that you find the experience uncomfortable (or, if you're bold enough, pat them on the tummy in return!); and don't be afraid to ask for a seat on the bus or train.Inside story
This week your baby has put on 100g – that's around 4oz – and now weighs around 450g. The crown-rump length stands at around 20cm (8in). More subcutaneous fat is being laid down all the time and surfactant is still being produced to enable the lungs to function at birth, although your baby would struggle if you were to go into premature labour at this early stage.
On the outside
You have probably felt your baby move and kick by now – and you may even have started noticing patterns to the movements. If not, you could start keeping a chart of when your baby is most active or sleepy, and see how different circumstances have an influence on activity. Some mums-to-be can get their babies to move by shining a strong torchlight directly at their bumps; others notice their babies kicking or somersaulting in response to the theme music from a favourite soap! A good time to observe movements is when you're in the bath and the warmth of the water and your own relative weightlessness can stimulate your baby.
Don't worry if you start getting tearful and moody again around about this stage: some expectant parents start to feel burdened by the looming responsibility and worry how they'll cope emotionally, practically and financially with a new baby. Try not to worry: new parents find ways to adapt to life with a baby. The prospect of parenthood is daunting, so discuss your fears and get support from family, friends with children and other new parents-to-be.
Things to think about
You're entitled to free dental treatment when you're pregnant and for a year after the birth? Many pregnant women find their gums swell and bleed more easily due to pregnancy hormones and the increase in blood volume. Regular visits to the oral hygienist will help to prevent gum disease.
You're also entitled to free prescriptions in pregnancy as long as you have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx). This lasts for a year after your estimated due date (EDD).
Although you don't automatically get free podiatry in pregnancy, it's equally important to look after your feet, especially if you are suffering pain from carrying your extra weight. You might need orthotic supports to wear inside your shoes (ask your doctor for a referral if you're in pain). If you just feel in need of a foot massage, you could ask your partner to do this for you, or treat yourself to a reflexology session – but check first that your practitioner is experienced in treating pregnancy women.
See previous week: 22 weeks pregnant
See next week: 24 weeks pregnant