Pregnancy Week 24
Count Those Kicks!
Your Baby's Growth and Development
During 24 weeks pregnant your baby weighs roughly one pound or more. By now your baby resembles a tiny but perfect human being in most cases. During 24 weeks pregnant and beyond your baby's central nervous system continues to develop, as do your baby's lungs. Your baby's lungs are starting to form tiny branches and will eventually produce a substance called surfactant, necessary for full respiration after delivery.
The amniotic fluid in your uterus will increase in volume starting around 24 weeks pregnant, and will continue to do so until right before delivery. Most of the time a woman's uterus holds roughly 2 pints of amniotic fluid. Did you know amniotic fluid actually changes consistency during pregnancy? During early pregnancy your amniotic fluid more closely resembles plasma, whereas near delivery your amniotic fluid contains multiple substances including fetal urine and lanugo covering your baby.
Most babies swallow and excrete a small volume of amniotic fluid during pregnancy. This is perfectly normal and perhaps prepares your baby for actual breathing after delivery.
Changes In Your Body
By 24 weeks pregnant your uterus may rest as much as 2 inches above your navel. Many women start touching their bellies more frequently now as they notice their belly growing larger and larger. You may also notice that other people acquire a fondness for touching your belly.
While normal, this does bother some women. For some reason people are fascinated by pregnancy, and take every opportunity they can to rub pregnant women's bellies, with or without asking. If you don't mind, let them. If it makes you uncomfortable, place your own hand there first or tell people you are too ticklish. This will send a message without you feeling uncomfortable or being rude.
Some people just feel pregnant women are lucky and want to rub your belly for a little luck. It certainly is worth a try.
You'll also notice that people have a tendency to comment on your belly size every chance they get. Whether they notice your belly is too "large" or too "small" for dates don't be offended. This happens all the time. Just take everything in stride and have faith your belly size is just right for your baby.
Counting Your Babies Kicks
When babies first start moving about strongly enough that you feel their movements, you'll notice for the most part they are quite random. Eventually however, especially toward your third trimester you will notice your baby tends to kick more at certain times of the day than others.
Babies go through normal patterns of sleep and wakefulness during the day, and their kicking reflects this. Many times during the third trimester a doctor will recommend you start counting fetal kicks during the day to ensure your baby is healthy and thriving.
How do you do this? You only have to do this once a day. Normally you can do these easily by sitting quietly for a short period and counting the amount of time it takes you to feel ten or more movements for your baby. Typically this should happen within a two hour time frame. Some women drink juice to facilitate this process. Most babies' respond to sweet drinks or changes in schedule.
When you do take time to sit quietly, you should rest as comfortably as possible. When you are comfortable, relaxed and not stressed, you will find finding the task of counting baby kicks much easier. Many women kick back with a comfortable pregnancy pillow during the latter half of their pregnancy. You can rest easily using
pregnancy pillows to support your head, neck and abdomen, and gently rest your hands on your belly. You can then easily relax and wait for your baby's subtle (and sometimes not so-subtle) movement. Most women find once they have some juice or something to eat, and kick back in a comfortable position with a cozy pregnancy pillow or two, their babies start kicking with wild abandon. Sometimes, it's easiest to count kicks during a nap or after a good nights (or moderate night's) sleep, because many babies become very active after mommy settles in for a rest. Does this mean you should never worry about what you perceive to be slower than average kicking from your baby? Not at all…
This small test also provides you some reassurance that everything is ok with your baby. If you have any concerns at all about your baby's movements, or notice your baby is moving a lot less than normal in any given day, don't hesitate to call your healthcare provider for advice.
In certain cases it may be appropriate for your doctor to order a non-stress test. This is a simple test your doctor can use to monitor your baby's health and well being at rest and while your baby is moving. This will give your doctor reassurance that your baby is ok.
Read About Pregnancy Weeks 13-28