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When you are 26 weeks pregnant, you are two-thirds through your pregnancy. The author of this article had a very scary experience during this week of pregnancy, almost losing her child. Read her story here.

Your baby’s chances of survival if born prematurely is increasing rapidly. Read about premature survival rates here.

This article covers fetal development, and mom’s body changes when 26 weeks pregnant.

What to Expect When 26 Weeks Pregnant

How Many Months is 26 Weeks Pregnant?

At 26 weeks, you are in the second trimester and the sixth month of pregnancy. Very soon, you’ll enter your third and final trimester.

Counting pregnancy weeks and months is often confusing. For that reason, we wrote a post on how to calculate pregnancy months and weeks here.

Your Baby at 26 Weeks

How Big is my Baby at 26 Weeks?

The fetal age of your baby is now 24 weeks. The baby now weighs about two pounds (900 gr) and measures around 14 inches (35.5 cm), and is as big as a zucchini.

With your baby growing, there is less and less room for maneuvering. At 26 weeks, some babies start to find a position for birth and turn so that their head is facing down. But, it is too early to worry about your baby’s position. There is still plenty of time left for the baby to turn into the optimal position for birth.

What Does my Baby Look Like at 26 Weeks Pregnant?

Your baby’s eyebrows and eyelashes are visible at this point, and the hair is also continuing to grow.

You are now at a week when your baby’s eyes are opening, and I bet you are already thinking about their eyes’ color. The iris, the colored part of the eye, is still not very much pigmented, and their eyes are likely to be blue. If you could take a sneak peek, you still wouldn’t know the final color of your baby’s eyes. Even after birth, the baby’s eyes’ color is still not the final color and may still change for many months.

Fetal development

Major lung development is still happening during this time. Air sacs begin to develop, and the lungs start to manufacture and secrete surfactants, which aids in lung expansion during breathing.

Active brain growth is also taking place this week. The nerves in the ears become developed and are more sensitive to sounds. So this is the best time to let your baby listen to music and both your, your partner’s, and any siblings’ voice. Letting my older child talk to the baby in my stomach was magical, I remember.

Another highlight of this week is your baby’s eyes opening. The eyes, which were closed in order to allow the retina to develop, are now starting to open.

If you have a baby boy, this is the time when his testicles will descend to the scrotum.

The intestines are further growing and developing and absorbing more nutrients from the amniotic fluid and producing enzymes to break down those nutrients.

At this point, you are probably feeling your baby kicking and moving all the time. The baby is trying out all kinds of different movements and preparing for life outside. With the baby growing bigger and stronger, the kicks will also be more powerful. However, with time, there will be less room for your little one to do somersaults.

Although the fetal movement is sporadic in the early pregnancy, after 26 weeks, you should feel the fetal movement daily. If you notice decreased fetal movement or that your baby isn’t moving at all, contact your practitioner.

 

Mom’s Body when 26 Weeks Pregnant

The Belly

Your uterus is continuing to grow bigger, and you may notice that it is already about 2.5 inches above your navel. And speaking of your navel, you may notice that it is growing bigger than usual, too. But don’t worry, because it will go back to its original appearance after the pregnancy, more or less.

Pregnancy Symptoms

If you haven’t gotten them already, with your belly further growing and the skin expanding, stretch marks might appear. They are extremely common in pregnancy.

Some mild swelling in your face, hands, and feet is normal during pregnancy, especially as it progresses. However, severe swelling might be a sign of a more serious condition called preeclampsia. If you aren’t sure if the swelling you are experiencing is normal, notice severe swelling or any other concerning signs, talk to your doctor about it.

Because of the hormone fluctuations and stress, some women might experience more headaches in pregnancy. Headaches might also start because of hunger or dehydration, so make sure you are drinking enough water and eating small, regular meals throughout the day.
You may be starting to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These are uterine contractions that are usually painless and occur at irregular intervals.

Usually, you don’t have to worry since these contractions are just false contractions. Meaning to say your uterus is just doing this as an exercise to aid the body in its preparation for childbirth.

But don’t be too sure. Although it might seem early, at 26 weeks, you have to learn the difference between a true labor contraction and a Braxton Hicks contraction because preterm labor could happen in the second trimester. It did to me; read my diary below!)

Braxton Hicks contractions or false contractions begin and remain irregular. They are felt first in the abdomen and remain confined in the abdomen and groin, disappear with ambulation and rest, and do not increase in frequency, duration, and interval.

True contractions, on the other hand, are the exact opposite. They would begin as irregular contractions and become regular and predictable. They can be first felt in the lower back and travel to the abdomen like a wave, continue to contract even with rest and sleep, and achieve an increase in frequency, duration, and interval.

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your contractions may be real rather than false, contact your doctor immediately!

Your lower back will continue to ache from time to time due to your growing uterus. Activities like lifting, bending, walking, standing, and sitting for a long time will aggravate the condition. Take your time to rest and enjoy your time with the baby that is inside your womb.

You might also experience pain in the pelvic area because the ligaments in your pelvis loosen in preparation for delivery.
With your expanding uterus, you might feel “growing pains” that are called round ligament pain. It is a sharp, stabbing, or dull pain that happens because the ligaments that hold your uterus in place are becoming stretched.

If you notice light bleeding or spotting at this point in pregnancy, it usually isn’t anything to be concerned about, although it will probably scare you. It is common during the second and third trimester and is usually a result of interference with the cervix that might happen during a vaginal exam or sex. However, if your bleeding is accompanied by pain, or is more like the one that happens during a period, or if you notice clots of blood, seek help. The best advice would be to contact your doctor anytime you aren’t sure if the bleeding you experience is normal, even if it’s just a small amount. In that case, even if it was nothing to worry about, at least you’ll be reassured all is fine.

Restless legs syndrome is maybe making it hard for you to relax and sleep. It can feel like tingling or “crawling” in the legs while resting. To make it more bearable, you can try light exercise, stretching, and avoiding caffeine. Restless legs syndrome in pregnancy has also been associated with low iron levels, so make sure to ask your health care provider for a test.

You might notice you are forgetting or misplacing things all of a sudden. You are not alone. Although not scientifically proven, many pregnant women report this type of forgetfulness during pregnancy. It even has its own name – ‘pregnancy brain,’ ‘baby brain,’ ‘or momnesia.’

It is also not unusual if you notice that you are clumsier than before. Your center of gravity shifts, you carry extra weight, and your joints are loosened, so it is no wonder that you can’t do things with the same speed and precision as before. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Adjust your activities to your current capabilities. Be extra careful when on slippery surfaces and avoid standing on chairs and similar when reaching for something.

Things to do and buy this week

If you haven’t already, start attending a prenatal class in the area where you live or online, so you learn as much as possible about giving birth!

You might want to consider writing a birth plan to share your preferences with the hospital staff

Valuable online birth classes:

Week 26 Pregnancy Video

Diary of a Daughter

What’s it really like being 26 weeks pregnant…? Here’s a true diary from a 26 weeks pregnant mom (Me..!)

I visited the hospital because my Braxton-Hicks contractions wouldn’t go away. Or at least that was what I thought they were; I didn’t even turn off my computer at work before I left.

However, I was dilating! And I’m only 26 weeks pregnant!! I was taken by ambulance to a hospital with expert neonatal care for very premature babies. A complete shock!

I was given medication through IV to stop the contractions and corticosteroid medications to help mature the lungs of my baby.

My husband was home ill and with a high fever, so he couldn’t be with me. Instead, mom came to support me.

After 1 day with IV, the contractions stopped. And like a miracle, the dilation stopped and actually reverted. The doctors say we should be grateful for every hour and day now that my baby stays inside the womb. I’ll remain in the hospital for some time. I am so scared! :-(

Are you also 26 weeks pregnant? Please share your experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Read Next

References:

Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Joanne Stone MD and Keith Eddleman MD, The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
Nilsson, L; Hamberger, L. A Child Is Born
Soderberg, L., Mammapraktika. B Wahlstroms.

Image: Image of 26 weeks belly by Graham and Sheila

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