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Baby's second trimester
 
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Up to 26 weeks

Your baby is growing taller and stronger, and her movements are becoming more complex. She's also showing signs of sensitivity, awareness, and intelligence. A baby born after 24 weeks of pregnancy is legally viable and could survive with specialized intensive care in a neonatal unit.

Your baby at 26 weeks of pregnancy

Up to 26 weeks
© DK

Your baby's progress

She's still red and skinny, but she'll soon start to put on weight. Her skin may look very wrinkled, but this is because she doesn't yet have much fat to plump it out. Her body is growing faster than her head and by the end of this month her proportions are about the same as those of a newborn. Her arms and legs have their normal amount of muscle, her legs and body are in proportion, and her bone centres are beginning to harden. Lines start to appear on the palms of her hands.

The brain cells she'll use for conscious thought now start to mature, and she begins to be able to remember and learn. (In one experiment, babies in the womb were trained to kick in response to a particular vibration.) The genitals of a boy and girl look completely different by this time; if your baby is a boy, testosterone-producing cells in the testes increase in number.

Her hearing

Your baby can hear sound frequencies that you can't hear. She'll move more in response to high frequencies than to low ones. She'll also move her body in rhythm with your speech. If she hears a piece of music often, she may realize it's familiar to her when she grows up - even if she can't remember ever hearing it. Some musicians have said that they “knew” unseen pieces of music, and later found out that their mothers played these to them while they were in the womb.

She'll also learn to recognize her father's voice from this month onwards. A baby whose father talks to her while she's in the womb can pick out her father's voice in a roomful of people immediately after she is born. She'll respond to it emotionally - for example, if she's upset, she'll stop crying when she hears her father talking and calm down.

Her breathing

Inside her lungs, more and more air sacs are forming. They'll continue to increase in number until she's about eight years old. Around them, the blood vessels that will help her to absorb oxygen and expel carbon dioxide are multiplying. Her nostrils have opened, too, and she's beginning to make breathing movements with her muscles, so that her system has plenty of breathing practice before she's born.

Mothers at 26 weeks of pregnancy

Your baby's movements are well established now and you'll feel some every day. When she hiccups, for example, you'll feel a sudden jerk.

Weight

You'll be putting on weight at the rate of about 500g (1lb) per week. Don't worry if you are told you look “small for dates”. Your size will depend on many things such as your build, how tall you are, the way you move, and the amount of amniotic fluid inside. It's the size of your growing baby that counts and that can be checked by ultrasound scanning.

Aches and pains

As your baby grows, and your uterus along with her, they push upwards against your ribcage. It'll rise by about 5cm (2in) and your lower ribs will spread outwards. This can give you rib pain and, because your baby is now beginning to press upon your stomach, you may also start to have bouts of indigestion and heartburn. As your uterine muscle stretches, you may get stitch-like pains down the sides of your abdomen.

Babies up to 26 weeks

She continues to grow slowly and steadily. If she's born prematurely, she'd have a slim chance of survival now.

Lungs

The bronchi (the main tubes leading from her windpipe to her lungs) are growing, although they aren't yet mature.

Brain

The patterns of her brainwaves are now like those of a full-term newborn child. The source of these brainwaves is thought to be the cortex, the highly evolved part of the brain. She's now developed patterns of sleeping and waking.

Posted 30.06.2010

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