Pregnancy week 26

Week 26 of Your Pregnancy

At 26 weeks, you may feel tired or have more pain. Learn more about week 26 of pregnancy, from the most common questions and symptoms to fetal development.

It's week 26 of your pregnancy, and you're rounding out the second trimester. You may be feeling tired and weak if you've got low iron or blood sugar issues—but don't worry, you'll be tested for those! Here’s what you may expect this week and what you should start thinking about as you get closer to the third trimester. 

Pregnancy Week 26 Quick Facts

  • At 26 weeks, you're six months pregnant
  • You have 14 weeks until your due date
  • You're in the second trimester

Your Unborn Baby's Size at 26 Weeks

At 26 weeks, your baby is about 14.02 inches long and weighs about 1.68 pounds. That's nearly as long as a zucchini!

how big is baby week 26

Pregnancy Symptoms Week 26

As you round the corner to the third trimester, you may start to experience some new symptoms. Symptoms that are common during this time include:

Not everyone gets an outie belly button during pregnancy, but this is a common time to develop one.

"At 26 weeks, they may notice because of the size of the uterus, that the 'outie' belly button becomes more prominent," says Cassandra Blot Simmons, M.D., chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "We usually reassure them that as long as they're not painful, and they are not considered umbilical hernia, that there isn't any specific treatment, but to wait until the pregnancy is delivered, where thereafter, most of them will resolve and go back."

You may also begin to see stretch marks on the skin of the belly, thighs, or other areas where the skin is stretched. There's no magical cure for stretch marks, but you can help your skin with lotions or oils.

"Genetically, some people have a propensity to scar more with the stretching than others," says Dr. Simmons. "If you have moisturized skin, then the effect of scarring when your skin is stretching is less. So this is where you want to use your bio-oils, your natural oils several times a day to keep the elasticity in the skin."

Marked weight gain typically occurs around 26 weeks. This is often from a combination of the fetus starting to grow quicker, increased appetite, and swelling. But remember, while slight swelling is normal during pregnancy, there are times when it can indicate an issue like preeclampsia. If you notice sudden swelling in the hands, face, or elsewhere, make sure to contact your health care provider to rule out any serious conditions. 

Keep in mind that symptoms can vary from person to person. If you experience any other symptoms that seem concerning to you, make sure to also call your health care provider.

Developmental Milestones

The fetus is entering a major growth phase. At this point, many of the body parts have formed, and they're going to start putting on major weight.

The eyes, eyebrows, and eyelashes are well-formed, and they're developing their footprints and fingerprints. Air sacs start to form in the baby's lungs.

The fetus is also developing their startle or moro reflex, palmer (hand) grasp, and plantar (foot) grasp. You'll see them using these reflexes as newborns.

The intestines grow and develop this week. They absorb more and more nutrients from the amniotic fluid and produce enzymes to break down nutrients such as sugars, proteins, and fats for digestion.

They've also developed a sleep cycle. You'll feel times when they're still and quiet and others when they're quite active.

Prenatal Tests and Doctor's Appointments

Some pregnant people will have a doctor's appointment at 26 weeks. If you don't have an appointment this week, you're likely booked in for one at 28 weeks. It's usually around this time that bi-weekly appointments begin.

If you have a doctor's appointment at 26 weeks, you may have some tests, leading up to that third-trimester transition, including:

  • Glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes
  • Blood count to test for anemia
  • Infectious disease screening for HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis
  • A blood test for Rh antibodies, if you are Rh negative

As you round the corner into the third trimester, you may start experiencing more symptoms as well as potentially developing complications. Pregnant people should feel empowered to ask questions of their health care providers at this (and every!) stage of pregnancy.

"It's important to be aware of the support that is available to you and be able to advocate for yourself and the communication that you need in your pregnancy," says Dr. Simmons. "We really want patients to take control of their care, and to really ask for the things that they need for support so that we can guide them."

Between 24 and 28 weeks, every pregnant person is screened for gestational diabetes. This screen is usually done with a sugary drink and then blood tests that measure how your body responds to that sugar. You'll have to stay nearby between the blood draws, so bring something to entertain you for an hour.

Personally, I didn't mind the drink, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth! If you'd like, you can also ask your provider about alternative ways to get that sugar.

"Some people will choose to get the amount of sugar that's in that drink from jelly beans or Pepsi—and that's absolutely up to them if they prefer to do so," says Alex Peahl, M.D., MSc, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan and co-director of the Michigan Plan for Appropriate Tailored Healthcare in pregnancy.

But the issue with this method is the amounts aren't standardized and the results may not be as accurate or reproducible.

Common Questions at This Pregnancy Stage

How much weight should I be gaining at this point?

"The total recommended weight gain in pregnancy depends on what your starting weight was prior to getting pregnant," says Dr. Peahl. "If you were underweight, a normal weight, or overweight, that range varies. We don't have a great recommendation marching that out over individual weeks of pregnancy and so I typically tell people that it's most important to focus on having a good diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine."

How many calories should I be consuming?

"By the third trimester, people need an additional 200 to 300 calories a day," says Dr. Peahl. That’s like including a banana and full fat yogurt into your daily diet. “So it's actually not that much additional eating,” adds Dr. Peahl. “Being thoughtful about those choices can be a really important part of pregnancy weight gain."

How often should I feel the baby moving at this stage?

The fetus typically starts to establish an activity pattern between 24 and 28 weeks. “If your baby is not behaving in the way that it normally does, you should sit quietly, drink something cold and sugary, press on your belly, talk to your baby, or you can even put your phone on vibrate and put the phone to your belly to try and stimulate the baby," says Dr. Peahl. "Babies have sleep cycles, just like us. And so it may just be that the baby is taking a little snooze.” But if you do all these things and still don’t feel fetal movement, it’s best to have an assessment, recommends Dr. Peahl. 

Things You Might Consider This Week

As you're gearing up to enter the third trimester, you may start feeling the need to clean and organize your home. I know I spent all my free time during the third trimester of my last pregnancy organizing every nook of the house.

At this time, you'll also need to start thinking about what you want during your delivery. Taking a labor and delivery course at your delivery hospital is a good idea to get you ready and acquainted with their services. Ask your health care provider if you're unsure what hospital you'll be delivering at.

It's also a good time to figure out who will be your support person. Is it a partner, parent, or friend? Or do you want to find a doula to support you during labor? If you're interested in exploring a labor doula, you'll want to start interviewing candidates.

You'll also want to start thinking about how you'll feed your baby. You may be interested in a breastfeeding course or learning more about formula feeding, combo feeding, or exclusive pumping.

You may be thinking about preparing for a babymoon or baby shower if you'd like to have one. Keep in mind that the dynamic nature of pregnancy may impact plans. And each pregnancy is different so always make sure to speak with your health care provider about any travel plans.

Support You May Need This Week

If you have a health care appointment this week or blood testing at the clinic, you'll need child care or time off support. For the glucose test, plan for two hours as you'll probably need to stay at the clinic.

You may also want to start thinking about projects you need to get done at work if you’re employed and around the house before the baby comes. Make a plan of action with your partner or your employer to get the support you need to complete these projects before the end of your pregnancy.

Head over to week 27 of pregnancy

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