The cycle of life begins early. A girl baby will already have about seven million eggs in her ovaries and nipples will already have formed on both sexes. At this stage, it may be settling into a regular pattern of activity and sleep that may be opposite to yours. When you are up and about, the natural rocking movement of your pelvis calms the baby and sends it to sleep. Your baby’s lungs are starting to produce surfactant so it can breathe independently after the birth.
A straw-coloured liquid called colostrum may leak from your nipples. This is the first type of milk you produce for your baby. It is rich in nutrients and high in antibodies. Leakage can occur as early as the middle trimester. Some women never experience it at all. If it is a problem, placing breast pads in your bra may help you through what could be an embarrassing moment.
The different parts of the baby can be felt through your abdominal wall. Its weight is now about 540 grams. If you feel a stitch-like sensation down the side of your tummy, this is the uterine muscle stretching. Sometimes resting will alleviate this pain. Small “rehearsal” contractions, called Braxton Hicks, may occur. These contractions massage the baby and help prepare your body for labour, though initially you may not be aware of them. Some women never experience them.
If you are working out, it is advisable to modify your routine and cut down on high impact activities. Exercise is recommended to prepare you for labour although caution is advised to avoid placing pressure on your abdomen.
A baby born at 24 weeks would have a chance of survival with the aid of highly specialised care. Doctors consider a baby born this early “viable”. Born 16 weeks premature, its vital organs are still maturing. It is unlikely that its lungs would be sufficiently developed for survival outside the womb without the aid of technology as they lack a lining to enable the baby to breathe adequately. As well, the respiratory muscles would be too weak to support respiration. In your womb, your baby is able to safely practise breathing in the amniotic fluid.
If you feel faint when lying on your back, it may be that the weight of the uterus is compressing the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from your lower body back to the heart. Lying slightly angled will stop the compression.