Pregnancy: Week - 22

How your baby is growing:

As your baby grows reaching around eleven inches tall and weighing around a pound his or her wrinkled skin begins to fill in becoming smooth. Deposits of fat under the skin continue to grow. The pancreas continues growing this week and will soon begin hormone production in your baby. The taste buds have also formed. The majority of babies are extremely active in these coming weeks and will continue to be so until shortly before labor when they will turn into a head down position and prepare to exit the womb! This has a lot to do with the disappearance of space for movement, but at the moment your baby has plenty of that.

How your body is changing:

Now that you have passed the half way mark, very little changes in the body takes place during this week. What you need to watch out for is not weight gain but Preeclampsia and Anemia. Both are possible at this point, though the first is far more dangerous than the second. Luckily, it’s also far less common.

How your life is changing:

On a lighter note, there are changes to your significant others body too which could effect your life, as many as sixty percent of fathers-to-be experience sympathy symptoms equal to yours. They gain weight, experience cravings and sensitivities, some men even get morning sickness! This phenomenon is known as Couvade syndrome. Experts are unsure what causes this comical little pregnancy joy. The two front running theories are that one, your partner is psychologically creating these symptoms as a cry for attention, and two, he has developed the pregnancy “sixth sense”. One thing is proven your partners hormone levels do mimic your own during pregnancy, so science must have some small say here.

You may also want to know:

Preeclampsia:

Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It affects three to eight percent of pregnant women and occurs more frequently after thirty-seven weeks; however you can develop preeclampsia at any time after twenty weeks. Preeclampsia causes the blood vessels to constrict which can cause organ damage and it can greatly reduce the flow of blood to the baby resulting in low-birth weight, lack of amniotic fluid, detachment of the placenta and pre-mature birth. The only way to cure Preeclampsia is to give birth.

Factors that place the mother at risk for Preeclampsia:

  • This being the first pregnancy or the mother carrying more than one baby
  • Obesity
  • History of diabetes, High blood pressure or blood vessel disorders
  • Older than age thirty-five
  • A relative that has previously had Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is thought to be primarily genetic.

Preeclampsia’s its symptoms can occur suddenly and it can be very dangerous it is important you are able to recognize them as soon as they occur.

Symptoms:

  • Severe headaches or headaches that just don’t go away.
  • Sudden and intense swelling, especially in the face and hands.
  • Weight gain exceeding two pounds a week or a rapid gain of one to two pounds or above.
  • Visual disturbances including spots, flashes, blurring or double vision.
  • Intense pain in the upper abdomen.
  • Unusual nausea or vomiting.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia after your thirty-seventh week you will almost unquestionably be induced. However before that point, the situation will be evaluated because the chances of your baby being underdeveloped. If your case is not severe you may be sent home and monitored closely, or you may be hospitalized in an attempt to safely continue your pregnancy to term.

Preeclampsia can develop into Eclampsia which is the onset of seizures with preeclampsia. Preeclampsia always precedes eclampsia hence the name. Another complication of preeclampsia is HELLP (H - hemolysis, EL -elevated liver enzymes, LP- low platelet count) HELLP can result in death or severe liver damage. It occurs in ten percent of pregnant women who develop preeclampsia. This is why it is important you call your doctor should you experience any symptoms of preeclampsia.

Anemia:

It’s a misconception that anemia is an iron deficiency because an iron deficiency is almost always the cause of anemia. Anemia is actually a low red blood cell count. Why is iron often the culprit? That is because iron is essential to making red blood cells. Anemia can also be caused by illness. Anemia occurs far more often in women due to loss of blood during menstrual cycles, but it occurs to even more pregnant women because of the increased demand for red blood cells. Anemia during pregnancy can lead to pre-mature birth and low birth weight. Anemia during labor will lead to increased blood loss in you. Most women don’t see symptoms (though there are a few in cases). This is why your doctor will test at your very first visit and around now. Some doctors will test every time your blood is drawn.

The symptoms of Anemia:

  • Dizziness or light-headness
  • Fatigue and/or weakness (most common symptom)
  • Headache
  • Numbness or coldness in the extremities/ Low body temperature
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat

Anemia is diagnosed by blood test and is easily treated with iron supplements which unfortunately can cause constipation. It is recommended you up your vitamin C intake and try to avoid calcium around the time you take you pill as vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron and calcium hinders it. The best way to avoid anemia during pregnancy is to eat plenty of foods rich in iron (avoid liver its also high in vitamin A which is linked to birth defects) and be sure you’re taking your prenatal vitamin every day as directed.