Your baby at 23 weeks
With her sense of movement well developed by now, your baby can feel you dance. And now that she’s more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound (about the size of a large mango), you may be able to see her squirm underneath your clothes. Blood vessels in her lungs are developing to prepare for breathing, and the sounds that your baby’s increasingly keen ears pick up are preparing her for entry into the outside world. Loud noises that become familiar now – such as your dog barking or the roar of the vacuum cleaner – probably won’t faze her when she hears them outside the womb.
Your life at 23 weeks pregnant
You may notice that your ankles and feet start to swell a bit in the coming weeks or months, especially at the end of the day or during the heat of summer. Sluggish circulation in your legs – coupled with changes in your blood chemistry that may cause some water retention – may result in swelling, also known as edema. Your body will get rid of the extra fluid after you have your baby, which is why you’ll pee frequently and sweat a lot for a few days after delivery. In the meantime, lie on your left side or put your feet up when you can, stretch out your legs when you sit, and avoid sitting – or standing – in one place for long periods. Also, try to exercise regularly to increase circulation, and wear support stockings (put them on first thing in the morning) and roomy, comfortable shoes. You may be tempted to skimp on liquids to combat swelling, but you need to drink plenty of water because staying hydrated actually helps prevent fluid retention. While a certain amount of edema in your lower extremities is normal during pregnancy, excessive swelling may be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia. Be sure to call your midwife or doctor if you have severe or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, more than slight swelling of your hands, swelling in your face, or puffiness around your eyes.
Learn about: Banking your baby’s cord blood
If you bank your baby’s cord blood, the blood left in your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after birth is collected, frozen, and stored for future medical use. Cord blood is prized because it’s a rich source of stem cells, the building blocks of the blood and immune system.
Stem cells have the ability to develop into other types of cells. Because of this, they can help repair tissues, organs, and blood vessels and can be used to treat a number of diseases. Cord blood has already been used successfully in the treatment of more than 70 diseases. Many more uses for cord blood are being researched and tested.
The process of collecting cord blood is fast and painless for you and your baby. Storing cord blood makes it more likely that its unique, potentially lifesaving stem cells won’t go to waste.
If you decide to bank your baby’s cord blood, you have two main options:
You can donate your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank for anyone who needs it. Check with your doctor or hospital if you’re interested (only certain hospitals are set up to allow cord blood donation). Ideally you’ll sign up to donate when you’re between 28 and 34 weeks pregnant. Most public cord blood banks and hospitals need several weeks before the birth to check your health history and eligibility for donating.
You can pay to store your baby’s cord blood in a private cord blood bankfor your family to use. You can probably go this route, regardless of where you give birth. Cord blood banks urge expectant parents to sign up during their second trimester of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor or hospital if you’re interested, and find out how to choose a reliable private cord blood bank.
Find out more:
- Overview of cord blood banking
- Choosing whether to donate or use a private cord blood bank
- Can I donate or bank cord blood from a home birth?
- Can a midwife collect cord blood?
- Will cord blood collection interfere with a natural birth?
Activity: Write a letter to your baby
This may be a keepsake you share with your child later or something for your eyes only. To get you started, here are some ideas:
- Imagine a perfect day with your baby and what you’ll do together.
- Write down your hopes, dreams, and wishes for your child.
- Think about what being a mother means to you and your definition of what makes a good mother.