What to Expect When You Are 24 Weeks Pregnant

Being 24 weeks pregnant marks an exciting milestone – you’ve reached viability! At this point, your baby has a fighting chance if they were to be born early. While pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, every week brings new developments and changes. Here’s an overview of what to expect when you are 24 weeks pregnant.

Key Takeaways When 24 Weeks Pregnant

  • The baby is about the size of an ear of corn and weighs over 1 pound now. They are filling out and their skin is less wrinkled and transparent.
  • You may start feeling baby hiccups around this time as your baby’s diaphragm muscles develop. Hiccups are harmless.
  • Your belly is really protruding now and you’ll start receiving comments from strangers. Your center of gravity shifts as your belly grows.
  • Backaches, leg cramps, and other common pregnancy discomforts may increase. Use pillows for support and stay active.
  • Your baby’s hearing is fully developed now. Read, play music, and talk to your bump to stimulate their senses.
  • Sign up for childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes if you haven’t already. Tour the hospital maternity ward.
  • Screenings like the glucose tolerance test and repeat ultrasounds may occur around 24 weeks. Discuss any test results with your doctor.

Baby Development at 24 Weeks

At 24 weeks pregnant, your baby is around 12 inches long and weighs about 1 1/4 pounds. The average baby at this stage is the size of an ear of corn.

Your baby’s organs and nervous system are maturing rapidly. Their lungs are developing primitive air sacs and the blood vessels in their lungs are developing to prepare for breathing after birth.

As your baby grows bigger, there is less room in the womb for them to twist and turn. But you’ll still feel frequent – and sometimes strong – movements, kicks, wiggles, and hiccups as your baby becomes more active.

Hair and Skin: Your baby now has eyebrows, eyelashes, and a full head of hair! Vernix caseosa – the waxy, cheese-like coating that protects their delicate skin – is being produced in greater amounts now. As your baby plumps up, their skin looks less wrinkled, reddish, and transparent.

Hearing: At 24 weeks, your baby’s hearing is fully developed. They recognize and may even prefer your voice and your partner’s voice over others. This is a great time to play music, read books out loud, and talk to your growing baby as they can hear you clearly now.

Sleep Cycles: Your baby is starting to develop sleep cycles and patterns of wakefulness and sleep thanks to their maturing nervous system. They are more active when awake but spend most of the time sleeping.

Hiccups: Your baby’s diaphragm muscles begin contracting regularly, practicing breathing and resulting in episodes of baby hiccups that you’ll notice. Hiccups are harmless and common as your baby’s lungs mature.

Taste Buds: Taste buds are forming on your baby’s tongue now. Studies show babies may be able to taste sweet flavors in the amniotic fluid when the mother eats sweet foods like fruit. Your diet shapes the flavors they experience before birth.

Bone Marrow: Up until now, your baby’s bones have been hardening but the bone marrow has been mostly inactive. Around 24 weeks, marrow in the bones starts producing red blood cells the baby needs after birth. This marks an important transition as your baby gets ready for life outside the womb.

Changes in Your Body at 24 Weeks

You are past the halfway point now and the pregnancy glow might be gone as common discomforts of the second trimester increase and your belly grows exponentially bigger. Here are some changes you can expect at 24 weeks pregnant:

  • Your fundal height – the distance from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus – is about 24 cm now. Your doctor will measure this at each visit with a tape measure.
  • You’ve likely gained around 10-15 pounds already. Healthy weight gain for the full 40 weeks is 25-35 pounds. Focus on eating healthy rather than counting calories.
  • Many women experience shortness of breath as the uterus expands upward and presses on the diaphragm, limiting how deeply you can breathe. Try pursed lip breathing to maximize inhales.
  • Your abdominal muscles are stretching as your uterus grows. This can cause abdominal pain on either or both sides. Stretching and massage can relieve discomfort.
  • As your center of gravity shifts, you may feel off-balance and clumsy. Be careful when bending over since you’re more prone to losing your balance.
  • Your body produces more progesterone, which can slow digestion and cause constipation. Drink lots of water, eat fiber, and stay active to prevent problems.
  • Increased blood flow causes swelling, especially in the feet and ankles. Compression socks can help, along with elevating your feet and avoiding long periods of standing.
  • Your growing breasts feel tender and leaky as they prepare for breastfeeding. Wear a supportive bra and nursing pads and avoid irritants on your nipples.
  • Backaches and round ligament pain are very common now as your belly grows rapidly. Use pillows for extra support when sitting or sleeping.
  • As your uterus expands, you may notice stretch marks forming on your belly and breasts. Moisturize daily with oil or cream to help minimize them.
  • Increased urination returns as your growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder again. Keep bathrooms mapped out when away from home!

24 Weeks Pregnant Is a Major Milestone!

The 24th week of pregnancy is a major milestone because your baby has reached viability – the point when a premature baby has a chance of survival with intensive medical care if they were born early.

  • Prior to 24 weeks, a baby’s lungs and other organs are simply not developed enough to survive outside the womb.
  • The new threshold of viability is generally considered 24 weeks although every pregnancy is unique. Babies born before this have a low chance of survival.
  • After 24 weeks, survival rates quickly improve week-to-week as the baby’s organs mature. But time in the womb is still critical for growth.
  • Babies born at 24 weeks have a 40-70% chance of survival according to recent statistics. This jumps to 81-92% at 28 weeks – a huge increase!
  • The risks of disability or impairment are still high for 24 week preemies. The more preterm a baby is, the greater the risks, which is why doctors aim to prevent extremely preterm birth whenever possible.

Reaching 24 weeks is exciting and empowering! Even though you still have several months left until your due date, you can be assured that each day your baby remains in the womb helps them grow stronger and healthier for life after birth.

24 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect

Your doctor may recommend another ultrasound around 24 weeks. This ultrasound serves a few important purposes:

Check baby’s growth: Confirm your baby is a healthy size and their organs appear normal. Measurements like the head circumference, femur length, and abdominal circumference are taken.

See baby move! By 24 weeks, you’ll get to see lots of kicking, waving, and squirming on the ultrasound screen. Check for any clubfoot, cleft lip, or other abnormalities.

Assess the placenta: Confirm the placenta is mature and properly attached. Determine the exact location of the placenta to rule out placenta previa which can cause complications.

Check amniotic fluid levels: Normal levels indicate your baby is swallowing fluid and their kidneys are functioning properly. Low fluid is a condition called oligohydramnios and can impair growth.

See the position of the baby: Determine if your baby is head down, breech, or transverse lie. There’s still time for their position to change, but knowing early on helps your provider determine if any interventions may be needed later to encourage proper positioning.

Follow up on any issues: If previous ultrasounds detected potential issues like low-lying placenta, the 24 week scan checks for resolution of any problems. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.

While ultrasounds are generally very reassuring, try not to worry if the technician can’t visualize everything clearly or get all the measurements. Your baby’s position and movement can make imaging tricky. Let your doctor determine if any follow up is needed.

24 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Do

Here are some important things to do when you’re 24 weeks pregnant to prepare for childbirth and life with a newborn:

  • Take childbirth classes: Whether you take an in-person class or online course, childbirth education helps you prepare for the various stages of labor, pain management options, vaginal birth, cesarean birth, and more.
  • Learn about breastfeeding: Take a breastfeeding class so you can learn proper latch techniques, feeding positions, pumping, and more before baby arrives. Many hospitals offer free prenatal breastfeeding classes.
  • Tour the hospital maternity ward: Take a tour of the hospital’s labor and delivery floor so you know what to expect. Ask questions and see the recovery rooms.
  • Interview pediatricians: Having a pediatrician lined up before the birth is ideal. Interview candidates and find someone you feel comfortable with. Consider things like location, hospital privileges, on-call hours, vaccination policies and more.
  • Look into newborn care classes: Classes cover things like bathing, diapering, soothing a crying baby, and more hands-on newborn care skills. Or brush up yourself online.
  • Research baby gear: Start researching must-have items like car seats, strollers, cribs, and other gear. Narrow down options and add them to your registry.
  • Prep other siblings: If this isn’t your first baby, start prepping any older kids for the new addition with books, inclusion in preparations, and open discussion about how things will change.
  • Have your hospital bag packed: Pack a bag with your insurance card, birth plan, clothes, toiletries, electronics and chargers so it’s ready to grab when it’s time.

Screenings and Tests at 24 Weeks Pregnant

Your prenatal checkups continue every 4 weeks. Some routine tests that occur around 24 weeks pregnant include:

Glucose screening test: This screen checks for gestational diabetes, which occurs in up to 9% of pregnancies. High blood sugar is unsafe and requires management with diet and possibly medication.Untreated diabetes can lead to excess fetal growth, preeclampsia, and early delivery. For the test, you drink a very sugary drink then get blood drawn 1 hour later. If it comes back high, a 3-hour diagnostic glucose tolerance test will be done to confirm diabetes.

Hemoglobin test: Checks for anemia, a common condition in pregnancy causing fatigue. Low iron levels mean you need more iron-rich foods and possibly supplements.

Antibody screening: If your blood type is Rh negative, your doctor will test for Rh antibodies again around 24 weeks. If you develop these antibodies, you’ll need a shot of Rh immunoglobulin to prevent complications.

Tdap vaccine: An updated pertussis booster (whooping cough) is recommended between 27-36 weeks of pregnancy to pass immunity to your newborn before their own vaccinations.

Cervical length: Doctors may check cervical length in higher risk women to assess likelihood of preterm birth. If short, precautions can be taken.

Discuss any unusual test results thoroughly with your obstetrician. Additional ultrasounds may be done if issues come up or pregnancy complications are suspected. Otherwise, a healthy low-risk pregnancy typically only needs two growth scans – the 20 week and 24 week ultrasound.

24 Weeks Pregnant: Lifestyle Tips and Precautions

Here are some tips for staying healthy, comfortable, and safe during your 24th week of pregnancy:

  • Continue taking your prenatal vitaminfolic acid, and any other supplements recommended by your doctor.
  • Drink 8-12 cups of water daily to stay well hydrated. Dehydration can cause contractions.
  • Make sure you’re still gaining a healthy amount of weight each week by eating frequent small meals and snacks.
  • Include protein at each meal plus fruits and veggies for important vitamins and nutrients.
  • Do moderate exercise most days, like brisk walking, prenatal yoga, and swimming to stay active.
  • Get enough sleep by maintaining good sleep habits. Take naps if you’re overly tired.
  • Reduce sugary and fried foods. Avoid unpasteurized dairy and juices along with raw meat and fish to reduce infection risks.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of air travel. Long flights increase risks of blood clots, swelling, and dehydration. Check with your doctor first if you must fly.
  • Practice good posture when sitting and standing. Wear low heels and avoid high impact exercise that’s too jarring.
  • Find relaxing ways to reduce stress each day through meditation, warm baths, prenatal massage, or other activities you enjoy.
  • Buy a supportive pregnancy pillow. They take pressure off your back and belly for more comfortable sleep.

When to Call the Doctor at 24 Weeks Pregnant

Call your healthcare provider right away if you experience:

  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Leaking fluid from the vagina
  • 6 or more contractions per hour before 37 weeks
  • A fever over 100.4F
  • Your baby is moving significantly less than normal
  • Extreme dizziness, swelling, or headache
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Blurred vision or other troubling vision changes
  • Sudden and severe nausea/vomiting

Routine symptoms like heartburn, trouble sleeping, backache, and frequent urination can be discussed at your next appointment unless they become severe. Stay in close contact with your doctor and call the office with any concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions About 24 Weeks Pregnant

Here are answers to some common questions about the 24th week of pregnancy:

How big is the baby at 24 weeks?

The average baby is about 12 inches long and 1 1/4 pounds. They are as big as an ear of corn.

What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks are practice contractions caused by the tightening of the uterus. They are sporadic and disappear if you hydrate and rest. Timeable contractions that come every 5-10 minutes may signal preterm labor.

Is my baby’s kicks getting stronger?

Yes, you should notice your baby’s movements getting progressively stronger from subtle flutters early on to large rolls, kicks, and visible nudges on your belly.

Why am I so forgetful and scatterbrained?

“Pregnancy brain” and forgetfulness are very common thanks to fatigue, hormonal changes, and mental preoccupation. Stay organized, make lists, and ask for help to reduce stress.

When do most women go on maternity leave?

Most women work until around 36-38 weeks pregnant and then begin maternity leave. Check your company policy and benefits for leave details. Talk to HR about your plans.

Is cramping normal at 24 weeks pregnant?

Some mild abdominal cramping is usually nothing to worry about as long as it’s not severe or accompanied by bleeding, fluid leaking, or other red flag symptoms. Stay hydrated and limit activity if you have cramps. Discuss symptoms with your provider.

Week 24 Is an Exciting Milestone of Your Pregnancy Journey!

You’re over the halfway mark now and your baby has hit an important viability milestone. Take things week by week, celebrate your baby’s amazing development, take good care of yourself, and remember discomforts are only temporary. 24 weeks pregnant is an exciting time! Monitor your baby’s movements closely and don’t hesitate to call your doctor about any unusual symptoms. Before you know it, you’ll be holding your precious newborn.