Pregnancy Tracker: Week 23

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 23




Pregnancy lasts 280 days, 40 weeks or just over 9 months.  23 weeks pregnant means you are in your sixth month already! Your due date is a good guestimate, but nothing is certain until you go into labour and deliver your baby, as the birth can vary by two weeks or so either side of your expected date, with babies being full-term between 39 and 41 weeks pregnant. Only about 5% of mums-to-be deliver on their due date.

Development of baby at 23 weeks pregnant

Baby is as large as a grapefruit and the weight now stands at about 540g, which is 100g more than last week. The butterfly feelings in your tummy are starting to give way to more forceful movements that occur quite frequently. Your baby gets lots of muscle exercise by regularly turning and twisting, kicking and flexing fingers, toes, legs and arms.

The lungs, which are not fully functional yet, continue to develop as little blood vessels grow and expand.  Your baby is practicing the breathing movements to prepare for life after birth.  All the oxygen requirements are supplied by the placenta and will continue to do so until after delivery.

Baby’s digestive tract will soon start little rhythmic movements that move the food along the tract. Tiny little nipples are being formed at this stage; the face is beautifully formed with ears and eyes in their correct places, and eyes are starting to move around behind the closed lids.  The hearing is far better developed, and baby can not only hear your heartbeat, but outside noises too like dogs barking.

Your baby is putting on weight fast now as he builds up a layer of fat under the skin.  The skin is still transparent and thin and appears wrinkled and saggy as it grows faster than the little body. But as fat stores are put down, the skin, which has a red-pink tinge to it due to arteries and veins that lie just underneath, will lose the translucent appearance and baby will soon start to look plumper.

You, your body, and your symptoms at 23 weeks of pregnancy

At this stage of pregnancy you may experience some achy feelings around your rib area as your rib cage expands to accommodate your growing baby.  At the same time you could notice breathlessness.  As your uterus continues to grow it will press up against your diaphragm, which puts pressure on your lungs, making breathing difficult. Standing upright or lying on your bed can help alleviate these symptoms.

Skin discoloration

The ‘dark line’ comes from the Latin linea nigra and is just what it suggests – a dark line running from the belly button down to the pubic area.  It is usually more obvious in darker-skinned women than fair-skinned and is caused by the same hormones responsible for other skin discolorations during pregnancy, like darker areolas.  Dark patches also appear on the faces of some women.  All these marks will fade after birth, and eventually disappear altogether.

Tingling hands

This can be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is very common and affects up to two-thirds of pregnant mums. It is caused by swelling that puts pressure on the median neve in the wrists and women who do repetitive motions involving hands and wrists, like computer work, sewing etc, are more prone to it. Try to keep the blood flowing freely by stretching and changing positions, but if the tingling or pain is severe, speak to your healthcare provider.


If you can’t get rid of the feeling that you have eaten too much (even when you haven’t) you can blame it on progesterone.  This hormone relaxes and slows digestion, giving nutrients more time to enter the bloodstream and reach baby.  Drinking water to keep things moving along could help alleviate this unpleasant feeling. Eating small, frequent meals can also help.


Did you ever think that snoring could be a common symptom of pregnancy? Well, it is! And it can be very annoying as it can interfere with your sleep, as well as your partner’s sleep. Snoring is the result of nasal congestion that is caused by swollen mucous membranes and extra pregnancy weight. Switch on the humidifier in your bedroom, try using a nasal strip and don’t sleep on your back.

Vision changes

Many mums-to-be notice changes in their eyesight during pregnancy, and luckily these are temporary.  Nearsightedness or blurry vision are common and due to changes in hormones, fluid retention, circulation and/or metabolism. Mostly this is nothing to worry about. However, in some cases, it can be a sign of something more serious, such as pre-eclampsia or hyperthyroidism, so if you experience vision loss, double vision or flashing lights, have it checked out immediately.


Back pain in pregnancy is extremely common and is probably going to be with you from about now to the end of the gestational period. For some mums-to-be it might present as a slight discomfort but for others it can be debilitating. 

Backache in pregnancy can start at any time, but usually first occurs in the middle of the second trimester, as your bump starts getting bigger and puts strain on muscles.  Pain can be felt in the lower or middle back area and will probably get worse as your uterus expands.  Luckily there are some tips on managing and relieving pain:

  • Use an ice pack or heat pad.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes with arch support.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to help keep your back in alignment.
  • Wear a pregnancy band to support your bump and keep the weight off your back muscles.
  • Regular exercises can help strengthen and stretch the supporting muscles in your back and legs.
  • Take care how you stand, distributing your weight evenly.

Most back pain is normal, but watch out for the following signs, which could indicate something seriously wrong, in which case you should call your doctor:

  • Constant pain on one side only.
  • Pain that is accompanied by muscle weakness or the inability to walk.
  • Lower back pain that comes in regular waves that could be a sign of labour.

Old wives’ tales – what to believe and what to ignore

Pregnancy, labour and childbirth have been around forever, and so have old wives’ tales. Chances are that every pregnant woman will be entertained to at least a few stories from well-meaning family members and friends. Some are amusing and some are scary. Some are true and some are not. Use your own discretion on what to take on board. Discard all the gender predicting tales - they are all myths - as the only reliable method of confirming the sex of a foetus is amniotic fluid or blood tests or a scan.

These old wives’ tales have some merit and can be taken seriously:

  • Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy is best. This is because it allows better blood flow to the placenta.
  • Dads can show signs of pregnancy. This is called ‘sympathetic pregnancy’ and can show itself in many symptoms, including nausea, heartburn, changes in sleeping patterns, anxiety and depression. Research has not found out why it happens!
  • Avoid getting into a jacuzzi, hot tub or steam bath when pregnant to avoid overheating which can decrease flood flow to your organs.

Vitamin D is of vital importance during pregnancy, so try to enjoy a 15-minute sunny break each day. Remember to wear a sun hat and sunscreen!

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