Your baby at 22 weeks
At 11 inches and almost 1 pound (about the size of a spaghetti squash), your baby is starting to look like a miniature newborn. His lips, eyelids, and eyebrows are becoming more distinct. His eyes have formed, but his irises (the colored part of the eye) still lack pigment.
If you could see inside your womb, you’d be able to spot the fine hair (lanugo) that covers his body and the deep wrinkles on his skin, which he’ll sport until he adds a padding of fat to fill them in. Inside his belly, his pancreas – essential for the production of some important hormones – is developing steadily.
Your life at 22 weeks pregnant
At this point, you may find your belly becoming a hand magnet. It’s perfectly okay to tell folks who touch your tummy that you’d rather they didn’t. And if people are telling you that you look smaller or bigger than you should at this point, remember that each woman grows – and shows – at her own rate.
What’s important is that you see your doctor or midwife for regular visits to make sure your baby’s growth is on track. You may start to notice stretch marks on your abdomen as it expands to accommodate your growing baby.
At least half of pregnant women develop stretch marks by the time they give birth. These small streaks of differently textured skin can range from pink to dark brown (depending on your skin color). Although they most commonly appear on your tummy, stretch marks may also show up on your buttocks, thighs, hips, and breasts. There’s no proof that lotion helps prevent stretch marks, but keeping your skin moisturized may help with any itching.
Learn about: Body changes beyond your belly
You expected your belly to grow – and perhaps your breasts, too – but the following physical changes may take you by surprise. As with many pregnancy changes, hormones play a role in most of these alterations in your looks.
- Thicker, more lustrous hair You’re not actually growing more hair, just losing less than normal. During pregnancy, your body sheds hair much more slowly than it did before. What to do: If thicker hair is a boon for you, enjoy it. If it’s making your mane more unruly than ever, ask your stylist to do some thinning at your next cut. These changes won’t last forever. After your baby’s born, you’ll start to lose this excess hair, sometimes in clumps.
- Increased body hair Sex hormones known as androgens can cause new hair to sprout on your chin, upper lip, jaw, and cheeks. Stray hairs can also pop up on your belly, arms, legs, and back. What to do: Tweezing, waxing, and shaving are all safe ways to manage these temporary changes.
- Faster-growing fingernails Your fingernails may grow more quickly than usual, and you may notice changes in texture. Some women’s nails get harder, while others’ get softer or more brittle. What to do: Protect your nails by wearing rubber gloves when you’re cleaning, and using moisturizer on them if they’re brittle.
- Skin changes Some pregnant women report that their skin has never looked better. If that’s you, enjoy the proverbial “glow.” Others find the hormones of pregnancy aggravate skin conditions such as acne. What to do: Wash twice a day with a gentle soap or cleanser, and ask your healthcare provider which acne-fighting products are safe during pregnancy.
- Stretch marks As your belly expands to accommodate your growing baby, you may get tiny tears in the supportive tissue that lies just beneath your skin, resulting in striations of varying color. These marks will begin to fade and become considerably less noticeable about six to 12 months after you give birth. What to do: There’s not much you can do besides trying not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight. Heredity is responsible for the natural elasticity of your skin and plays a role in determining who will end up with stretch marks.
- Skin discolorations Increased melanin can cause splotchy patches of darkened skin on your face. These pigment changes may intensify if you spend time in the sun. What to do: Protect your face by using a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing a hat with a brim, and avoiding the sun during peak hours of the day (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
- Larger and darker nipples and areolas You may find that your nipples and the pigmented area around them (the areolas) are getting bigger and darker. The little bumps on your areolas, known as Montgomery’s tubercles, may also be more pronounced. These bumps are oil-producing glands that help fight off bacteria and lubricate the skin. Some women also notice more pronounced veins in their breasts. What to do: Nothing!
- Larger feet Your feet may go up half a shoe size or more. Lax ligaments may make your feet spread a bit – permanently. Swelling can make your shoes feel tight as well, although it will go away after delivery. What to do: Buy comfortable shoes to accommodate your growing feet.
Activity: Check out your rings
It’s common to have some swelling in your fingers as your pregnancy progresses. If your rings are feeling the least bit snug, do yourself a favor and take them off now before it’s too late (or at least keep an eye on them). If you can’t bear to be separated from your wedding band or another important ring when you can no longer sport it on your finger, loop it on a chain and wear it close to your heart.