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26 Weeks Pregnant: What’s Happening to Your and Your Baby

26 Weeks Pregnant_ What’s Happening to You and Your Baby

You’re now 26 weeks pregnant, entering the sixth month of your journey with just three months to go! 

Your baby has grown to about 35.6 cm long, weighing around 2 pounds — as big as a zucchini!

Excitingly, your baby’s eyes open and blink while their lips become more sensitive. 

Their hand coordination improves as they begin making fists, sucking thumbs, and playing with their toes.

Their senses are developing rapidly, allowing them to suck, see, hear, and taste, and they might respond to your touch on your tummy. 

Your Baby in 26 Weeks

Your Baby in 26 Weeks

Your baby is about the size of a zucchini (quite close to a cucumber or pipino).

Their little body is a work in progress, but those adorable chubby cheeks and baby rolls are starting to take shape in all the right places.

Their eyes start to open, and they react to stimuli. They may bat their eyelashes at bright lights.

They may even kick or move around when you talk to them or poke your belly.

Although you can’t see your baby yet, you can still bond and play with them! Talking, singing, and reading to your baby will make them feel loved and help you establish a strong connection. 

They’ll adore the sound of your voice.

How Big Is My Baby at 26 Weeks?

At 26 weeks, your baby is approximately 2 pounds and 14 inches (35.6cm) long and may start feeling cramped in your uterus.

Despite doing fewer somersaults and cartwheels, they are still growing and developing rapidly. 

The baby is now about the size of a zucchini — with a head close to the size of a kale.

Their head is still proportionally larger than their body, but their body is quickly catching up.

If you haven’t already, investing in some foot cream is a good idea, as carrying this extra weight can strain your feet.

Baby’s Eyes Open

At 26 weeks pregnant, your baby’s eyes are starting to open! 

The iris is still developing, so it’s too early to tell your baby’s eye color.

The eye color they are born with may not be permanent. You can only be certain once your baby is around a year old.

Shine a flashlight at your stomach to see if your baby kicks in response. The light will stimulate their retinas, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

Brain-Wave Activity Starts

By 26 weeks, your baby’s brainstem (the part that controls heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure) is almost fully developed.

Your baby’s nervous system is now developed enough to detect loud noises outside the womb. 

They can now hear and respond to noises — albeit non-verbally- through pulse rate or movement changes.

Another exciting development is the presence of fetal brainwave activity. This features sleep cycles, including REM sleep, the stage associated with dreaming.

Can My Baby Survive Outside the Womb at 26 Weeks?

At 26 weeks, babies are “extremely preterm,” but their survival chances are higher than those born at 24 weeks.

With more developed and stronger lungs, babies can breathe more using tubes in an incubator. However, babies may experience health problems as they age.

These might include issues with:

  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Learning
  • Understanding
  • Behavior
  • Social skills
  • Potential heart problems

Monitoring and specialized care will be essential for their well-being and development.

Your Body in 26 Weeks

At 26 weeks pregnant, your belly button may pop out as your uterus grows. This is normal; your belly button should return to its original position after delivery.

Your uterus is about 2½ inches above your belly button as your baby grows and gains weight rapidly. 

Additionally, you may feel your baby’s movements more strongly as they become more active in the womb.

Protruding Navel

At 26 weeks of pregnancy, you might notice your once innie belly button has become an outie due to your growing uterus. 

Your navel pops out as your abdomen expands to accommodate your baby’s growth.

This change might not align with your fashion preferences, but it’s common in pregnancy.

Moreover, your navel may appear stretched out after delivery, but it should return to its original position.

Baby Movements

As their nervous system develops, movements become more coordinated and powerful, sometimes causing discomfort. 

Your baby might stretch their leg out, occasionally getting their foot lodged between your ribs.

Like in the previous weeks, you may continue to feel occasional pain from their movements. So, if you do, try changing positions or gently pushing your baby back.

Why Does My Baby Move So Much at Night?

Pregnant women tend to feel more baby movement at night because the baby is more active during that time.

During the day, the mother is usually more active, which can make the baby feel jostled and go into a sleepier state. 

At night, the mother is usually more still, which allows the baby to move around more freely.

No worries! Fetal movement at night is a normal part of their development.

Pregnancy Symptoms You May Experience

Pregnancy Symptoms You May Experience

Being almost over the second trimester, you probably feel your baby’s movements more frequently.

However, you might also face common discomforts along with the kicks and flutters.

1. Rib Pain

As your baby grows, they occupy more space in your abdominal cavity. 

You may feel pressure, kicks, and jabs around your ribs, depending on their position. 

Changes in hormones, weight gain, and other symptoms like heartburn could contribute to rib pain.

Although, this pain can start early in your pregnancy, too. 

2. Round Ligament Pain

A pregnant mom’s uterus is supported by thick ligaments that extend from the groin up the side of her abdomen and connect to the front.

As your womb expands to accommodate your growing baby, these supporting ligaments also lengthen and increase in diameter to carry the added weight. 

This pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen and can be sharp or dull.

3. Insomnia

Pregnancy insomnia is a real thing! Taking melatonin during pregnancy may be tempting, but you must not take them.

Here are things you can try doing:

  • Engage in low-intensity exercises.
  • Avoid using phones at least an hour before sleep.
  • Relax and unwind before bed (a foot massage may help).
  • Limit fluids before bed. 
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine (taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.)
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. 

4. Higher Blood Pressure

At 26 weeks pregnant, experiencing a slight boost in blood pressure is generally considered common. 

Blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mm Hg is considered gestational hypertension.

It could also be symptoms of preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome. These are serious pregnancy complications requiring immediate attention and management. 

5. Swelling

Some mild swelling around the ankle might be common, but any severe swelling could be a sign of gestational diabetes. 

Gestational diabetes typically appears in the middle of pregnancy, and doctors usually test for it between 24 and 28 weeks. 

Although this can be managed through diet, vitamins, and exercise, sometimes insulin is needed.

6. Pregnancy Brain

Experiencing “pregnancy brain”? 

Memory problems, poor concentration, and absentmindedness often accompany this. Your brain prioritizes emotional skills during pregnancy.

No worries! Pregnancy brain is also normal and caused by hormonal changes and sleep disruptions. It’s also temporary.

To help manage it, you can try jotting down notes and taking breaks when you need them.

Tips to Help You Manage Week 26

Tips to Help You Manage Week 26

To ensure you stay healthy and comfortable, here are some essential tips to help you manage week 26 and beyond

These are the tips that I’ve personally found helpful during my previous pregnancies:

1. Limit Fluids After 6 PM

Are you struggling with frequent bathroom trips disrupting your sleep? 

Expert mom tip: Limit fluids after dinner, but stay hydrated during the day.

Drinking enough fluids is essential, but cutting back after 6 PM reduces sleep interruptions, like bathroom trips. 

This can disrupt your sleep and make it difficult to fall back asleep. Additionally, it can increase your risk of developing foot sores.

2. Cook Meat Well

Foodborne illnesses may lead to severe complications, miscarriage, premature birth, or even stillbirth.

Therefore, thoroughly cooking meat, fish, or poultry is important to kill harmful bacteria.

  • Chicken – pierce it with a fork. If there’s red juice, it’s undercooked. 
  • Meat and chops – cut through the thickest part to ensure gray or brown with no rare spots.
  • Fish – bake, broil, grill, or poach until fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.

3. Handle Raw Ingredients Properly

Aside from cooking meat well, prevent cross-contamination by separating raw and ready-to-eat foods. 

Cook hotdogs or deli meat until they are steaming hot, or avoid them entirely.

Here are a few more things you must note when handling raw ingredients:

  1. Wash your hands when handling all types of food.
  2. Use separate cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  3. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils and plates.
  4. Sanitize surfaces, utensils, and equipment.
  5. Refrigerate perishable ingredients promptly.

4. Keep Exercising

Staying active with light to moderate exercise is beneficial, but it’s also essential to be mindful of your baby’s response to the workouts. 

While some babies may be lulled to sleep by the movement, others might become more active, almost like they’re joining the fun.

Consult your doctor to determine the appropriate intensity level for you and your little workout buddy. 

Nonetheless, ensure you wear the right pregnancy shoes and clothes when exercising. 

5. Practice Good Posture

Although challenging, try to maintain good posture to avoid backaches and fatigue

Avoid thrusting your hips and stomach forward or throwing your shoulders back, as it may worsen pregnancy pains.

Standing against a wall can help you feel the correct alignment of your spine.

Additionally, practice standing pelvic tilts and consider using a pregnancy pillow. 

6. Consider Starting a Birth Plan

Soon-to-be mom, as you approach the last trimester, start working on your birth plan.

Doing this is an opportunity to outline your labor and delivery preferences. This is an assurance of a stress-free delivery to moms.

Discuss it with your healthcare provider and support team to ensure a positive birth experience.

Conclusion

You’ve made it so far, fellow mom! You’re now two-thirds through your pregnancy journey.

Remember, trust your motherly instincts. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your healthcare provider or fellow moms.

You’ve got this, and we’ve got you!

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!