Being 23 weeks pregnant marks an exciting milestone – you’ve reached the end of your second trimester! At this point your baby is starting to look more like a newborn. While you may be experiencing some discomforts like back pain and trouble sleeping, there is a lot to look forward to in the upcoming weeks. This article covers everything you can expect when 23 weeks pregnant from how big your baby is, to common symptoms, appointment procedures, and tips for self-care.
Key Things to Know at 23 Weeks Pregnant
Here are some of the most important things to be aware of when you reach 23 weeks pregnant:
- Your baby is the size of a grapefruit or mango and weighs over 1 pound now. Their lungs and digestive system are developing.
- You may start to feel more uncomfortable as your belly expands. Back pain, trouble sleeping, leg cramps and swelling are common.
- Your baby’s hearing is fully developed. They can even recognize your voice.
- Most women start to feel baby move more regularly around 23 weeks.
- Your midwife will check your weight, blood pressure and urine at appointments. You’ll likely have an ultrasound.
- Take time for self-care like prenatal yoga, massage or swimming to relieve aches and pains.
- Plan for maternity leave if you work. Consider taking childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting classes.
How Big is Your Baby at 23 Weeks?
At 23 weeks pregnant, your baby is around the size of a large mango or small grapefruit. They measure approximately 11.5 inches long from head to heel and weigh in at around 1 1/4 pounds.
Your baby has nearly doubled in size over the past month. Their limbs have grown longer and filled out with more fat deposits under their skin. Your baby’s organs are maturing rapidly. Their circulatory and urinary systems are working. The lungs and digestive system continue developing.
The chromosomes determine if your baby is a boy or girl at conception. At 23 weeks pregnant, their reproductive organs have developed enough to tell the sex via ultrasound. If you don’t already know, you may be able to find out at your next appointment if you want.
While still small, your baby is starting to look more like a newborn now. Though the skin still appears thin and translucent, it will thicken up over the next few weeks. Your baby is actively soaking up calcium which is helping harden their bones. The eyes can open and close. Eyebrows and eyelashes are forming too. Your baby’s body is covered in a waxy coating called vernix caseosa that protects their delicate skin while floating in the amniotic fluid.
Common Symptoms at 23 Weeks Pregnant
As your second trimester comes to an end around 23 weeks pregnant, it’s common for some new discomforts to crop up. However, most women find the second trimester easier than the first. Here are some symptoms you may experience:
- Back pain – As your belly expands, your center of gravity shifts forward placing strain on the back. Plus, hormones cause loosening of joints and ligaments.
- Round ligament pain – Stretching of these ligaments supporting the uterus can cause stabbing pains down the sides of the abdomen.
- Trouble sleeping – It may be difficult to get comfortable and sleep soundly as your belly grows. Try pillows for support.
- Increased vaginal discharge – More hormones lead to an increase in vaginal secretions. Notify your doctor if it seems abnormal.
- Leg cramps – The extra weight you’re carrying can cause leg muscle cramps, especially at night. Stretching before bed may help.
- Heartburn – Hormonal changes slow digestion creating acid reflux. Avoid spicy or acidic foods.
- Dizziness or faintness – Your blood pressure may be dropping. Move slowly when changing positions.
- Bleeding gums – Swollen gums that bleed easily are common during pregnancy. Maintain good oral hygiene.
- Headaches – Changing hormone levels as well as pregnancy congestion can trigger headaches. Rest and hydrate.
- Braxton Hicks contractions – These practice contractions may start around 23 weeks as your body prepares for labor.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – Swelling in the wrist area puts pressure on a nerve causing numbness and tingling. Wear a brace.
- Stretch marks – Your expanding belly may cause reddish or purplish streaks where the skin is stretched thin. Moisturize to help minimize them.
While frustrating, most of these are very normal parts of pregnancy. Be sure to discuss severe or persistent symptoms with your doctor.
Your Baby’s Development at 23 Weeks
Now that you’ve reached the end of your second trimester at 23 weeks pregnant, your baby is starting to bulk up and develop more baby-like features. Here’s what’s happening with your baby’s development this week:
- Lungs – The bronchioles and air sacs in your baby’s lungs are developing branches called alveolar ducts. This forms part of the respiratory tree essential for breathing after birth. The lungs are starting to produce a substance called surfactant which will help inflate the air sacs once your baby takes their first breath.
- Ears – Over the past few weeks the inner ear bones that conduct sound have formed. Around 23 weeks pregnant the auditory cortex in your baby’s brain is mature enough to start detecting and processing outside noises from your body and voice. Their hearing is fully developed now.
- Digestive system – Your baby’s digestive system is constantly swallowing amniotic fluid and producing meconium, the greenish black sticky first stool they will pass after birth. The liver and pancreas are working. The intestines lengthened enough to accommodate storing waste until delivery.
- Skin – A protective waxy coating called vernix caseosa covers your baby’s sensitive skin while immersed in amniotic fluid. This acts as a moisturizer and antibacterial barrier. The skin is still very thin with blood vessels visible underneath. More fat deposits will continue filling out your baby’s body over the next few months.
- Hair and nails – Your baby has soft fine hair (lanugo) covering their body now which may be noticeable on ultrasound. The eyebrows and eyelashes have visible hair follicles. Their fingernails extend beyond the fingertips.
- Kidneys – Your baby’s kidneys are developed enough to process urine which flows through the bladder and exits the body as amniotic fluid. This cycle of producing and swallowing fluid helps the urinary system continue developing as well as provides essential nutrients.
- Brain – Your baby’s brain is making over 200 million new neurons every day. The cerebellum controlling motor function, coordination and balance has doubled in size. Their brain will quadruple in mass during the third trimester.
- Movement – You may notice your baby is significantly more active now compared to a few weeks ago. They can perform stretches, twists, rolls and kicks.
Doctor Appointments at 23 Weeks Pregnant
Your 23 week pregnancy appointment will likely be similar to previous ones this trimester with a few additional tests and discussions to monitor you and your baby’s health in the final phase before the third trimester starts. Here’s what you can expect:
- Weight and blood pressure – Your doctor will weigh you and take your blood pressure as usual to ensure you’re gaining a healthy amount and don’t have preeclampsia signs.
- Urine – A urinalysis checks glucose and protein levels that may indicate gestational diabetes or preeclampsia if abnormal.
- Fundal height – Your belly size is measured to estimate fetal growth rate. Around 23 weeks, the fundal height often measures approximately 23 centimeters.
- Fetal heart rate – The heartbeat will be checked to ensure it falls within the normal range of 120-160 bpm.
- Ultrasound – You may have a detailed anatomy scan if not done earlier to get a closer look at your baby’s development and measure growth. The sex can usually be determined clearly now if you want to find out.
- Genetic tests – Your doctor may recommend blood tests like AFP or NIPT around 23 weeks if you’re at increased risk for chromosome abnormalities or neural tube defects. Discuss pros and cons.
- Glucose testing – You may have a glucose screening test between 24-28 weeks to check for gestational diabetes, especially if you have risk factors.
- Rh status – If Rh negative blood type, you’ll get a RhoGAM shot at week 28 to prevent your body from attacking the baby’s positive blood cells and causing complications.
- Vaccines – Your doctor may recommend a Tdap vaccine between 27-36 weeks to help pass on pertussis immunity to your baby. The flu shot is also recommended during pregnancy.
- Fetal movement – Your provider will ask if you’re feeling the baby move regularly. Around 23 weeks pregnant, fetal activity becomes more consistent and noticeable as they grow bigger and stronger.
- Comfort – Discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing like back pain or leg cramps so your doctor can offer relief suggestions to help you stay as comfortable as possible.
- Birth plan – This appointment is a good time to start discussing preferences for your delivery such as hospital or birth center, pain management options, and whether you want a natural birth or c-section if circumstances allow going into labor.
Tips for Self-Care at 23 Weeks Pregnant
With all the changes happening as you approach your third trimester, practicing self-care is crucial around 23 weeks pregnant. Here are some tips:
- Prenatal yoga – Gentle pregnancy-focused yoga can relieve back and joint pain, improve balance and circulation, all while relaxing tense muscles.
- Prenatal massage – Massage therapists specially trained in pregnancy massage can help alleviate muscle aches and sore spots as your belly grows.
- Swimming – A few gentle laps in the pool allow your body to move without gravity pressing down providing a sense of weightless comfort.
- Meditation – Apps like Headspace and Calm provide meditation content for relaxation and sleep in just minutes per day. Managing stress is vital while pregnant.
- Compression socks – Wearing socks that offer graduated compression can improve circulation and reduce swelling in your legs and feet.
- Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water. Dehydration during pregnancy can cause headaches, dizziness and Braxton Hicks contractions. Aim for 10-12 glasses per day.
- Sleep support – Use pillows between your legs, under your belly or along the back to take pressure off while resting. A pregnancy body pillow may help too.
- Prenatal vitamins – Take your supplements daily to supply essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid for your baby’s growth and development.
- Healthy eating – Focus on a balanced diet with plenty of fruits/veggies, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Eat small frequent meals to help with heartburn.
- Moderate exercise – With your doctor’s okay, aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity like walking per week to stay fit and boost energy.
Taking good care of your physical and mental health is just as important for your baby’s wellbeing at this stage as your body nourishes their continued growth and development in these final weeks of your second trimester.
Planning Ahead for Your Third Trimester
As you reach the end of your second trimester around 23 weeks pregnant, it’s a good time to start planning and preparing for your upcoming third trimester and arrival of your baby. Here are some things to consider:
- Take childbirth classes – Now’s the time to look into signing up for childbirth preparation classes at your local hospital or independent center to learn techniques for labor and delivery.
- Interview pediatricians – If you don’t already have a pediatrician for your baby, research doctors and schedule meet-and-greet visits before you deliver.
- Research childcare options – Look into daycare centers or nannies if you’ll need regular childcare after your maternity leave ends. Waiting lists can be long so plan ahead.
- Map out maternity leave – Talk to HR about your leave options and get the process started for taking time off work after the birth. Disability or paid family leave may supplement a portion of your wages.
- Make a baby registry – Create registries on Amazon, Buy Buy Baby or Target to start compiling the baby gear and essentials you’ll need so friends and family can help out.
- Take infant CPR class – Many hospitals, clinics or community centers offer this important class for parents on infant choking prevention and CPR response.
- Pack a hospital bag – It’s not too early to start gathering comfortable clothes, toiletries and electronics to pack in your hospital go-bag so it’s ready closer to your due date.
- Clean out baby’s room – If you plan to use a separate nursery, start decluttering and deep cleaning the room to prepare it for your baby’s arrival in a few months.
- Install car seat – Read the manual and properly install an infant car seat base in your vehicle well before your due date so it’s inspected and ready to go.
Planning ahead for your third trimester allows you to cross some major to-dos off your list so you can focus on staying relaxed and enjoying the final phase of pregnancy.
23 Weeks Pregnant FAQs
As you approach the end of your second trimester around 23 weeks pregnant, you probably have lots of questions about what to expect next. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Can I travel when 23 weeks pregnant?
Most airlines restrict flying after 36 weeks pregnant. Traveling by car or train is fine at 23 weeks with frequent breaks. Always check with your doctor before traveling to get their green light based on your pregnancy risk level.
What if I haven’t felt the baby move much yet?
It’s common not to feel consistent noticeable movement until around 24 weeks, especially with your first pregnancy when you don’t know what it feels like. Contact your doctor right away if you ever notice a significant decrease in fetal activity.
Should I start interviewing pediatricians and childcare centers already?
Yes, it’s a smart idea to start researching pediatricians in your 23rd week and setting up meet-and-greet appointments to find one you like. Waiting lists at daycares can be months long so call around to get on lists in case needed after leave ends.
How much weight should I gain by 23 weeks?
The recommended weight gain by this point in pregnancy is around 10-14 pounds, most of which is your expanding uterus, placenta, larger blood volume, breasts and amniotic fluid rather than extra body fat. Steady gradual gain is best.
Is it normal to have trouble sleeping at night now?
Difficulty sleeping becomes extremely common as pregnancy progresses because it’s hard to get comfortable with back pain, leg cramps, heartburn, a restless baby and having to pee frequently. Try pillows for support and sleep aids like warm milk. Talk to your doctor if insomnia persists.
Are pregnancy headaches normal at 23 weeks?
Yes, headaches are very common especially as hormones fluctuate. Stay well hydrated, rest in a quiet dark room, use cold compresses and talk to your doctor about pregnancy-safe pain medication. Call your doctor if headaches are severe.
As you reach each new week of pregnancy, don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns that come up with your doctor. They can provide reassurance and help you stay as comfortable as possible during the remainder of your pregnancy journey.
Overview of What to Expect at 23 Weeks Pregnant
The 23rd week of pregnancy marks an exciting milestone as you complete your second trimester. While new discomforts may be cropping up, remember to enjoy feeling your baby move and watch them develop more baby-like features. Stay on top of your prenatal care, nutrition and self-care. Here are the key things to keep in mind:
- Your baby now weighs over 1 pound and can hear noises. Their lungs, brain, organs and senses continue maturing.
- Plan for upcoming maternity leave, childbirth classes and baby gear. Interview pediatricians and childcare centers.
- Pregnancy symptoms like back pain, trouble sleeping, swollen feet or Braxton Hicks contractions are all very normal now.
- Stay active with walks. Try prenatal yoga or massage for aches. Drink plenty of water and take it easy.
- Feel free to ask your doctor about safe medications for issues like heartburn, headaches or leg cramps that become bothersome.
The weeks fly by during pregnancy. Before you know it, you’ll be in the home stretch of your third trimester! For now, relax and soak up all the little flutters, rolls and stretches as your baby grows.