You’ve reached the 22 week mark of your pregnancy – over halfway there! At 22 weeks pregnant, you’re likely feeling baby move around more and your belly continues growing. But what exactly happens during week 22 of pregnancy? Here’s a comprehensive look at what to expect when you are 22 weeks pregnant.
Key Takeaways When 22 Weeks Pregnant
- Baby is around 11 inches long and weighs over 1 pound
- You may start to feel baby move around more
- Your uterus is about 2 inches above your belly button
- Common pregnancy symptoms include back pain, trouble sleeping, stretch marks, and varicose veins
- Watch out for preterm labor warning signs like contractions, cramps, bleeding
- Focus on nutrition, exercise, and rest
- Schedule any travel before week 28 when flying is restricted
- Get a glucose screening test for gestational diabetes
Baby Development at 22 Weeks
At 22 weeks pregnant, your baby is around 11 inches long and weighs over 1 pound. Their features continue to develop and look more distinct.
- Brain and lungs are developing rapidly
- Fingerprints are forming
- Hair is beginning to grow
- Baby can sense light and hear noises
- Their taste buds are working
- Baby drinks amniotic fluid and practices swallowing
- Lanugo hair covers and protects baby’s skin
- Vernix caseosa coats the skin for protection
During week 22, baby’s organs and systems become more functional. Their digestive system is preparing to process breast milk or formula after birth. The pancreas can produce insulin to manage blood sugar. Baby’s blood vessels, bones, and muscles grow stronger. The umbilical cord continues supplying baby with oxygen and nutrients from your placenta.
As you reach the halfway point, your baby is becoming more active in the womb. You will likely feel them twist, turn, and kick more strongly now!
Common Pregnancy Symptoms at 22 Weeks
Along with your growing belly, you may experience some uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms at 22 weeks:
Back pain – Extra weight in your belly area can strain your back muscles and ligaments. Consider supportive shoes, massage, warm compresses, stretching.
Trouble sleeping – Discomfort plus increased bathroom trips can disrupt sleep. Try pillows for support, avoiding fluids before bedtime.
Stretch marks – Your expanding belly may cause reddish or purplish streaks on the skin. Moisturize daily and stay hydrated to improve skin elasticity.
Varicose veins – Pressure from your uterus can cause veins in the legs to swell and become visible. Elevate your legs, wear compression socks, avoid tight clothing around the thighs.
Braxton-Hicks contractions – Your uterus tightens and relaxes during these “practice contractions”, which are normal and not a concern unless accompanied by other preterm labor signs.
Increased vaginal discharge – More estrogen production leads to extra vaginal discharge to prevent infections. Wear panty liners and avoid irritants.
Heartburn and indigestion – Hormones that relax the esophageal sphincter muscle cause frequent heartburn. Avoid trigger foods, eat smaller meals, don’t lie down right after eating.
Dizziness – Expanding blood vessels plus compression of veins can temporarily lower blood pressure and cause dizziness. Rise slowly, stay hydrated, and rest with feet elevated.
Headaches – Changing hormone levels, lack of caffeine, dehydration, and sinus pressure can trigger more frequent headaches. Use cold compresses, massage pressure points, stay hydrated.
Bleeding gums – Pregnancy hormones increase blood flow to the gums, causing swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. Practice good oral hygiene and get regular dental cleanings.
Leg cramps – Cramping or charley horses are common, especially at night. Stretch calves before bed, massage the area, or take a warm bath to relieve muscle tension.
Constipation – Progesterone relaxes intestinal muscles leading to constipation. Drink plenty of fluids, exercise, and eat high fiber foods.
Hemorrhoids – Pressure from your uterus plus constipation can cause swollen hemorrhoid veins. Eat high fiber foods, use witch hazel pads, try warm baths, keep the area clean.
Changes to Expect When 22 Weeks Pregnant
You will notice some significant physical changes as you reach the 22 week milestone:
- Your fundal height (distance from pubic bone to top of uterus) measures about 22 centimeters now.
- Your uterus is around 2 inches above your belly button.
- You’ve likely gained around 10-12 pounds and will continue gaining 1 pound per week.
- You can feel baby’s movements more – both flutters and kicks.
- Your ankles and feet may be swelling due to increased fluid retention.
- Blue veins become more visible on your breasts and belly.
- You may notice colostrum leaking from your nipples.
- New stretch marks are possible on your breasts, belly, thighs, and backside.
- You have an increased need to urinate as baby presses on your bladder.
- Your growing belly makes bending over and picking things up from the floor more difficult.
- You may become short of breath easily since your uterus presses on your diaphragm.
- Clumsiness increases as your center of gravity shifts – be careful and use handrails!
Tips for 22 Weeks Pregnant
Here are some helpful tips to get you through week 22:
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamins with folic acid each day.
- Drink plenty of water – at least 8 glasses daily.
- Choose stretches and light exercises like walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga.
- Find comfortable maternity jeans with elastic side panels.
- Use creams to help prevent stretch marks.
- Consider buying a pregnancy support belt to ease back pain.
- Practice kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Avoid getting overheated – stay in air conditioning when possible.
- Prop your feet up on a stool or cushions to reduce swelling.
- Indulge any food cravings but focus on healthy, balanced nutrition too.
- Get enough calcium and iron from foods like yogurt, spinach, and beans.
- Make time to relax and recharge – pregnancy is hard work!
Preparing for Baby at 22 Weeks
Here are some ways to prepare for baby’s arrival during your 22nd week:
- Start washing and organizing baby clothes, blankets, and gear.
- Set up the crib and other nursery furniture if you haven’t yet.
- Register for baby shower gifts so you can stock up on essentials.
- Take childbirth, breastfeeding, and baby care classes.
- Interview and choose your pediatrician.
- Make sure you have health insurance for your baby after birth.
- Plan maternity leave and make child care arrangements for after baby arrives.
- Childproof your home by installing safety covers, gates, etc.
- Freeze casseroles and meals for easy postpartum dinners.
- Pack your hospital bag with clothes, toiletries, and electronics.
- Discuss your birth plan and options with your partner.
What to Expect at Prenatal Checkups
Here’s what happens at your 22 week prenatal checkup:
- Your fundal height and weight gain are measured.
- Baby’s heartbeat is checked with a fetal doppler.
- You may get blood drawn to test iron levels and immunity to certain diseases.
- Blood pressure, swelling, and urine protein levels are checked.
- Your healthcare provider feels your abdomen to check baby’s position.
- You can discuss any questions or concerns about symptoms you’re experiencing.
- An ultrasound may be done but usually not if you had one at the 20 week anatomy scan.
- Gestational diabetes screening takes place this week if you haven’t had it yet.
- Your cervix is checked for any premature dilation or thinning.
- Routine Rhogam shot is administered if you have Rh negative blood.
Bring up any troubling symptoms at your visit, like blurred vision, bleeding, absence of fetal movement, severe pain, etc. Stay on top of your own health so your pregnancy progresses smoothly.
Warning Signs to Watch For at 22 Weeks
Although most pregnancies proceed normally at 22 weeks, contact your doctor right away if you notice any of the following:
- Contractions – More than 4 per hour could signal preterm labor.
- Cramps or low back pain – May be another preterm labor symptom.
- Bleeding or fluid leakage – Needs prompt evaluation to rule out problems like placenta previa or placental abruption.
- Decreased fetal movement – Baby should be moving around more, not less.
- Severe headaches and vision changes – Can indicate preeclampsia.
- Gushing fluid – Potential sign your water broke prematurely.
- Pain or burning during urination – Sign of a possible UTI.
- Severe swelling in hands and face – Possible preeclampsia symptom.
Any of these could be harmless, but talk to your provider so they can check you and baby thoroughly.
Travel Tips When 22 Weeks Pregnant
If you have any major trips or “babymoons” planned, the best time to travel is before week 28 when most airlines restrict flying. Follow these tips for safe travel at 22 weeks pregnant:
- Get up slowly and stretch to avoid blood clots on long flights.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Use compression socks and do ankle rolls to increase circulation.
- Request a seat by the bathroom and get up periodically to walk around.
- Bring your own pillow, snacks, and comfortable clothes.
- Check if your health insurance covers you out of town or internationally.
- Bring documentation of your pregnancy and prenatal records.
- Locate the nearest hospital to your destination in case of emergency.
- Avoid locations with risk of foodborne or waterborne illnesses.
Discuss travel plans with your doctor and consider postponing trips later in pregnancy for maximum comfort and safety.
When Do You Start Maternity Leave
There is no exact requirement on when to stop working during pregnancy. Most women work up until they give birth or close to their due date. Here are factors to consider:
- Discuss leave options with your employer. Many companies offer 6-12 weeks paid maternity leave.
- Review short term disability and FMLA policies to understand your rights.
- Save vacation and sick days to use prior to delivery.
- Plan for time off needed for appointments, discomfort, prep, and recovery.
- Stop working earlier if you have pregnancy complications or a demanding job.
- Work from home towards the end if possible to have flexibility.
- Arrange for help covering workload while you are away.
Communicate with your employer, set a leave plan, and train others to cover your duties for a smooth transition when you start maternity leave.
Coping With Common Discomforts at 22 Weeks
As your body goes through major changes during pregnancy, you may experience:
- Use heat or ice packs on the sore area
- Try massage or acupuncture for relief
- Improve posture and avoid bending over
- Wear supportive shoes and don’t stand too long
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between knees
- Take naps and rest when tired
- Go to bed earlier
- Ask for help with household chores
- Eat foods rich in iron and protein
- Stay hydrated and exercise to boost energy
- Avoid greasy, spicy, and acidic foods
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Drink liquids between not during meals
- Sleep propped up with pillows
- Take antacids with doctor approval
- Stretch legs and feet before bed
- Massage cramped muscles
- Take baths with Epsom salt
- Stay hydrated and get enough magnesium
- Avoid pointing toes when stretching
The good news is most discomforts of pregnancy are manageable with lifestyle adjustments and home remedies under your doctor’s guidance.
FAQs: 22nd Week of Pregnancy
What tests are done at 22 weeks pregnant?
Typical tests around week 22 include:
- Glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes
- Complete blood count (CBC) to assess iron levels, blood cells, and immunities
- Strep B culture to test for bacteria that could affect baby
- Biophysical profile (BPP) ultrasound to monitor fetal movement, breathing, tone
- Cervical length check to screen for premature labor risk
Can I feel baby move at 22 weeks?
Yes, most women feel baby move for the first time between weeks 18-22. Quickening or fluttering sensations indicate your baby is active. You will notice kicks and movements more often as baby grows bigger.
How big is my uterus at 22 weeks?
Your uterus typically measures around 22 cm from pubic bone to the top or fundus. It has risen out of your pelvic cavity to about 2 inches above your belly button by 22 weeks.
What does a 22 week ultrasound show?
A 22 week ultrasound generates detailed images allowing your doctor to:
- Check placenta location
- Measure fetal growth and development
- Examine organs like heart and brain
- Look at baby’s features and movements
- Assess amniotic fluid levels
- Determine baby’s position in the womb
Can I travel when 22 weeks pregnant?
It’s generally safe to travel when 22 weeks pregnant if you take precautions. Most airlines allow flying until around 28 weeks. Check with your doctor before any trips and be sure your health insurance covers you.
Staying healthy and listening to your body are most important during your 22nd week of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if anything concerns you as you move closer to holding your baby!