The 22nd week of pregnancy

Wow halfway there! Let’s look at what to expect during the 22nd week.

pregnant mum treating herself to a healthy snack

Around this time it can suddenly feel like you have a ‘bump’! You are probably finding that your baby bump is really starting to show and more and more family, friends, colleagues and people will probably talk to you about your growing tummy. Some women find that other people want to touch their bump. Always remember, that is absolutely your choice whether you want to share that experience with someone else. Think about a good response strategy which you can use to tell someone, politely but confidently that you do not want them to do this.

You are probably going to soon need to start wearing maternity clothes, (if you haven’t already), so that you are comfortable and to accommodate your beautiful growing bump. Whether you prefer to proudly accentuate your belly or wear your maternity clothes light and loose, this is entirely up to you. For comfortable underwear take a look at the Medela maternity wear: there is a range of pregnancy, sleep and nursing bras and even pregnancy briefs, so that you'll be well equipped in the coming weeks of pregnancy. If you start to experience pressure on your pelvis or have backache you may consider wearing an under bump support band, (especially as your pregnancy advances); this is a supportive belly band that may help to relieve the pressure on your pelvis and back.

Talking about your pelvis: your pelvic floor muscles are stretching and strengthening under the influence of the hormones progesterone and relaxing in preparation for birth1. You may find that you are now going to the toilet more frequently, and also waking up at night for a pee too! Your pelvic floor is going to work hard over the next months and after birth. It is important that you strengthen these important muscles. Your midwife will discuss and demonstrate how to do pelvic floor exercises. It’s a good idea to try and practice them several times a day. Stress incontinence is sadly a complication following pregnancy and birth and may be avoided with targeted gentle exercises2. Taking the time now to learn how to do them is a great investment long-term.

Size & weight of your baby at 22 weeks of pregnancy

Your baby will be the size of an artichoke at 22 weeks. Your baby measures about 28 cm in length and weighs about 430 to 470 grams*. From the 22nd week of pregnancy your baby’s pace of growth will be slower compared to those earlier weeks, but they continue to gain weight until they are born. So far, your baby has little fat stores and is covered with fine downy hair called ‘lanugo’. Over the next weeks, your baby will quickly build up a layer of brown fat under the skin that will help maintain his temperature after birth and act as an insulator3.

How your baby develops in the 22nd week of pregnancy

Since the early weeks (week 7-8) of pregnancy, your baby's olfactory and oral cavity continues to mature, developing the sense of smell and taste3. His nose, (nasal mucosa) now has olfactory cells with which your baby can perceive smell through the amniotic fluid. He can also taste a little of what you eat (such as spices) as these pass through your digestive system into your blood supply., As in the placenta the fetal and maternal circulations mix, your baby then has these ‘spices’ in his blood stream and he excretes these through his skin and urine, releasing these flavours into the amniotic fluid that he then tastes and swallows4. How cool is this?!

*Note: The data on length and weight are average values that cannot be applied to individual cases. Every baby develops individually.

References

1 Stolarczyk A et al. Peripartum Pubic Symphysis Diastasis-Practical Guidelines. J Clin Med. 2021; 10(11).

2 Woodley SJ et al. Pelvic floor muscle training for preventing and treating urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020; 5:CD007471.

3 Moore KL et al., editors. The developing human: Clinically oriented embryology. Eleventh edition. Edinburgh: Elsevier; 2020.

4 Mennella JA et al. Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants. Pediatrics. 2001; 107(6):E88.