Week 24: Your pregnancy
Your baby's growth: Lung development, balance and touch
Your baby still has a lot of growing to do. At 1.2 pounds and 8 to 9 inches long, she should add at least another 5 pounds before birth for optimum health.
This week she prepares herself for a big cry upon arrival. Her lungs begin to produce surfactant, a wetting agent that will help her breathe correctly and keep her tiny lungs from collapsing or sticking together. Blood vessels and air sacs are developing in the lungs and will eventually exchange oxygen and circulate it to all parts of your baby's body.
This week the following developments may occur:
- Inner ear. This will become fully formed. Controlling balance, the inner ear means that your baby may be able to tell when she is upside down or right side up while floating in the amniotic fluid.
- Touch. She will continue to explore her internal environment, flexing her fingers and touching her surroundings.
What's happening with you
Heartburn. As your baby continues to grow, you may begin to notice heartburn, a burning sensation that can reach from the lower throat to the bottom of your breastbone. During pregnancy heartburn is caused by hormonal and physical changes in your body. The placenta produces a hormone that relaxes the valve dividing the esophagus from the stomach, allowing stomach acids to move up into the throat. At the same time the growing baby can push stomach acid up into the esophagus as well.
You can help ease heartburn by eating five or six small nutritious meals a day. Also try to avoid going to sleep right after eating.
Testing for gestational diabetes. Your doctor may recommend testing for gestational diabetes, a temporary type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes tend to have abnormally large babies, which can lead to difficulties during labor. In addition gestational diabetes can cause low blood sugar and other problems in the baby after birth.
During the screening test you'll drink a sugary solution and then have your blood drawn an hour or two later. If your blood sugar level is above a certain level, you'll have further tests. Gestational diabetes usually can be controlled with a special diet. Moms who develop gestational diabetes with their first child are more likely to have the condition with subsequent pregnancies.