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Pregnancy at week 23

5-minute read

Your baby

Your baby now weighs about 540g and measures about 20cm from head to bottom – about the size of a papaya. They are covered in fine hair, called lanugo, which is getting darker and may be visible on an ultrasound scan. The hair on their head and their eyebrows is developing colour.

The lungs have started to produce surfactant, which will help them to stay inflated when your baby is breathing air after birth. The baby is practising to breathe in the womb, but they are still getting all their oxygen from the placenta.

Their brain and nervous system are developing rapidly. They can now recognise light, sound and pain. Their vision is improving and they will know the sound of your heartbeat. Their pancreas is producing insulin.

Your baby at 23 weeks


Your body

Your growing uterus might be pressing down on your bladder, causing you to leak fluid, especially when you cough, laugh or sneeze. This incontinence might be temporary, but it’s important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by doing regular exercises. You should do these exercises every day throughout your pregnancy and continue after you have the baby.

Many women start to feel warm during the second trimester. This is because of the extra blood in your body. If it’s summertime, you can stay cool by wearing loose cotton clothes. Keeping well hydrated is also especially important while you’re pregnant.

You may also notice a pain like a stitch down the side of your tummy. This is because the ligaments are stretching as your uterus grows. Resting or moving position normally helps. If the pain doesn’t go away, gets worse, or if you have any bleeding or discharge from your vagina along with the pain, let your doctor or midwife know as soon as possible.

Things to remember

The birth might seem like it’s a long way off, but now is the time to start preparing for being a parent. Having a baby will change your life. If possible, plan not to have any additional upheaval in the first few months after the baby is born, such as changing your job, renovating or moving house.

It’s a good idea to talk to your partner about who will be there to support you during the birth, who is going to take time off to look after the baby, and how you will share household chores and caring for other children in the first weeks and months.

If you don’t have a partner, it’s important to start thinking about how to get support after the baby is born. Think about what practical help you can ask for from family and friends, what services are available in your area, and how you can meet other parents to build a support network. Your doctor or midwife will be able to point you in the right direction to find out what’s available.

Read next

Pregnancy at week 24

Your pregnancy at 24 weeks

Learn about your pregnancy journey and what is happening to you and your baby.

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Last reviewed: August 2020

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