22 Weeks Pregnant
It’s getting crowded in there! Now that you’re 22 weeks pregnant, your rapidly growing baby is invading your space—to say the least. That’s why it might be tough to catch your breath and why your back might be killing you. Hey, as baby grows, they may be expanding your belly so much (so fast) at week 22 of pregnancy that you might start to get some stretch marks (sorry)—and you might even have a newfound “outie” belly button! While you might not love all these side effects, you’ll probably want to capture your pregnant belly in some professional photos. Twenty-two weeks is a good time to start planning for a maternity portrait session. You’ll want to aim for a third trimester sesh to capture that big, beautiful belly, but it shouldn’t be so late that you risk going into labor before your appointment.
At 22 weeks, baby is the size of a coconut. Average baby size at 22 weeks is 10.9 inches long (at 22 weeks pregnant, baby’s size is measured from the crown of the head to the heel of the foot) and 15.2 ounces.
How long is 22 weeks? Hmm… it’s becoming difficult to keep track, so what exactly is 22 weeks in months, you ask? You're about five months pregnant, although doctors refer to your progress by week, not month.
The most common 22 weeks pregnant symptoms have to do with the fact that baby (or babies, if you’re 22 weeks pregnant with twins) is taking over so much territory in your body. This includes:
- Stretch marks. These scars are caused when your skin stretches so fast or so much that it actually tears below the surface. What’s not so cool is that the stretch marks may never go away completely, but they will fade in color after delivery, so they’ll be much less noticeable.
- Outie belly button. Your innie has basically gone inside out and you’ve suddenly got an outie. This is another byproduct of an expanding belly. It can be a weird feeling, we know. Your outie will go back to an innie, we promise!
- Increased sex drive. Some moms-to-be actually find they have an increase in libido around 22 weeks. That’s because your hormones are pretty much raging at this point. (We hope you're enjoying it!)
- Increased vaginal discharge. You’ve got a water works situation down there—SO not fun, but don’t worry, extra discharge is just the result of increased blood flow down there. This could be a reason not to feel the sex drive boost other moms-to-be get at this phase of the game, but we think you should try to get into the mood anyhow. We really doubt your partner will mind a little excess lubrication.
- Swollen hands and/or feet. Now that you’re pregnant, you have an increase in the amount of fluids in your body—so minor swelling is totally normal and will die down pretty much as soon as baby is born. Severe or sudden swelling, on the other hand, is not normal. It could be a sign of a dangerous pregnancy complication called preeclampsia, so tell your OB right away if you’re super swollen or swollen with sudden onset.
- Backaches. Your back hurts due to extra pressure from baby and from carrying around the extra weight. A heating pad, a prenatal massage and/or sleeping with a body pillow can help ease the pain.
- Hair issues. Some people end up growing thick, lustrous hair, which is great when the hair is actually on your head. When it’s not on your head, well, go ahead and curse those hormones for the umpteenth time. (And break out the tweezers if you want!) Other people end up with thin, limp hair. Whatever happens with your hair, your hormones are to blame, and all should return to normal after pregnancy. (Actually, many women lose a lot of hair in the postpartum period or when they stop breastfeeding, so hair changes can be expected for a period of time after giving birth)
- Trouble catching your breath. Baby continues to crowd your lungs, making it tough to breathe at times. Remember not to take your workouts too far, and when you feel winded, take a break right away.
What to expect at 22 weeks pregnant
At 22 weeks, baby’s size is having quite an impact on the way you feel. Between Braxton Hicks, swollen feet, feeling winded and other 22 weeks pregnant symptoms, you’re really feeling the weight (haha) of this pregnancy. Try to take it easy when you get worn out, and don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself. Growing a person is hard work!
A typical 22 weeks pregnant belly measures approximately 20 to 24 centimeters from pelvic bone to the top of the uterus—that’s called the “fundal height.” If you’re 22 weeks pregnant with twins, don’t even consider fundal height, since twin pregnancies are all so different, there’s no real “typical.”
At 22 weeks pregnant, weight gain is likely on your mind. Your OB is probably telling you to stick to a slow and steady weight gain—about a pound or slightly more or less per week, depending on your body type. To do that, many people advise eating about 300 extra calories per day. Don’t obsess over calorie counting or anything—it’s just a good guideline to keep in mind.
Three hundred extra calories doesn’t mean you have to eat exactly three meals plus one or two small snacks. In fact, you should consider switching it up and eating five or six small meals over the course of your day. That way, it might be easier to stick to a well-rounded diet (since, admit it, most of us make healthier choices with our meals than we do with our snacks). Plus, by eating smaller meals and more regularly, you’ll lower your chances of having drops in energy, or heartburn, indigestion and other issues with that 22-week pregnant belly. Sounds delicious to us!
Can baby feel when I rub my belly?
Yes! Baby’s brain and nerve endings have now developed enough that they can sense touch, which means they’ll feel your hand pressing gently on your 22 week baby bump. Baby may even respond by pressing back—cool!
Now that baby's eyes and lips are more developed, they’re looking even more like a newborn. Baby is sleeping in cycles—about 12 to 14 hours per day (hint: they're probably those times you're not feeling any kicks!).
If you haven’t had your mid-pregnancy ultrasound yet, this is the week! This 18- to 22-weeks pregnant ultrasound gives you a glimpse of all baby’s major organs and other body parts. You’ve probably wrapped up the rest of your genetic testing at this point. Feel relieved that you’ve got all that out of the way!
What does baby look like at 22 weeks?
If you could see inside that 22 week baby bump, you’d see that baby now has eyebrows, eyelashes, lips and fingernails. You’d see baby working on coordination and experimenting with the sensation of touch by moving their hands over their own face or grabbing the umbilical cord. You’d also see baby at 22 weeks responding to light and sound from outside your belly, so feel free to play with baby using a flashlight or by playing music for them!
Practice saying no
People are enchanted by a pregnant belly, but they might forget their manners and comment on your body or touch your belly without asking. Be prepared to step back and say “no thank you” whenever someone attempts to touch or offers unsolicited commentary.
Take advantage of feeling good
If you’re experiencing that wondrous second trimester energy, take advantage of it! Plan a trip or get some projects done around the house. Now’s the time to travel, if you’d like to, before the baby arrives. The third trimester might come with the return of exhaustion, so use this energy to your advantage.
Breathe through Braxton Hicks
If you’re having Braxton Hicks contractions, practice breathing through them, which will also help when you eventually go into labor. There are all kinds of breathing exercises, from yoga breathing to traditional labor breathing techniques, so choose what works best for you and use it.
Keep up with prenatals and healthy eating
Eating well and taking your prenatals not only helps baby grow strong and healthy, but it supports your body too, as it works hard to grow and house your little one. Calcium and magnesium are particularly important right now for baby’s bones and teeth, so focus on fortified foods, dairy products, avocados, salmon and dark leafy greens. (Hint: If you’re craving a treat, dark chocolate is also an excellent source of magnesium. Eat it with calcium-rich milk, and it’s practically health food!)
Reminders for the week:
Medical content was reviewed Novemember 2020 by Patricia Pollio, MD, a New York-based ob-gyn and director of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York.