26 Weeks Pregnant
You haven’t met baby yet, but they’re taking over your life! They’re interfering with your sleep, messing with your memory and even giving you a stress headache or two at 26 weeks pregnant. (They’ll do all those things after birth too!) When they say moms-to-be have 40 weeks to get ready for baby, they don’t just mean growing the baby and buying a car seat and bouncer. You also need to mentally prepare for a newborn to become the center of your attention. And already, at week 26 of pregnancy, baby is giving you some practice in that department.
At 26 weeks pregnant, baby is as big as a head of kale. Your 26-week fetus measures about 14 inches and weighs about 1.7 pounds. They’re developing senses, features and even talents. Wow!
Twenty-six weeks pregnant is six months pregnant, though pregnancy is generally tracked by week, not month. At 26 weeks pregnant, trimester two is nearly over. Get ready for the final stretch!
Your 26 weeks pregnant symptoms are mostly discomforts—and are steadily getting more uncomfortable as baby grows and your body begins to make changes to get ready for childbirth.
- Trouble sleeping. Yawn! The closer you get to your due date, the tougher it might be to get some rest. Watch your caffeine intake, stay hydrated and get a little exercise (take walks!) to help your body settle down at night.
- Swelling. You might not like the puffiness, but it’s normal to have some mild swelling around week 26 of pregnancy. But it’s important to watch out for swelling that’s severe or sudden, which could be a sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. Call your doctor if your swelling seems worrisome.
- Headaches. These are often due to hormone fluctuations or stress. But you can also get headaches if you’re hungry or dehydrated, so continue taking care of yourself and baby by eating at least every few hours and keeping a glass of water by your side for frequent sipping.
- Pregnancy brain. Is it getting tricky to remember stuff? That may be a physiological symptom of hormone fluctuations, but it also might be because, well, you’ve got quite a bit on your mind.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. Notice your belly occasionally feeling really tight? That’s a contraction. Yep, already. ( Braxton Hicks might be more noticeable for women who are 26 weeks pregnant with twins.) Don’t freak out though—your muscles are flexing to practice for labor. As long as the contractions aren’t steady or severe, they’re run-of-the-mill. Tell your doctor if the contractions are painful or don’t stop; those are signs of preterm labor.
- Higher blood pressure. A slight boost in blood pressure is normal at 26 weeks pregnant. If your doctor sees too high of a boost, though, they might have you monitored more closely. That’s because hypertension—a systolic reading of more than 140 mm Hg or diastolic reading of more than 90 mm Hg—could be a sign of preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome. These potentially dangerous pregnancy complications would need to be addressed right away.
What to expect at 26 weeks pregnant
At 26 weeks pregnant, you’re hopefully still feeling pretty good physically and able to enjoy interacting with baby inside your belly. You might be starting to feel a little anxious about birth, though. If you are, start thinking seriously about what you hope for your birth experience. Remember that you can’t plan exactly what will happen, but you can make plans for many of the possibilities.
By 26 weeks pregnant, you’ve probably gained about 16 to 22 pounds—or about 27 to 42 pounds if you’re 26 weeks pregnant with twins. When you touch your 26 weeks pregnant belly, you’ll notice the top of your uterus is about 2.5 inches above your belly button. Your belly will keep growing about a half inch each week for the rest of your pregnancy. At 26 weeks, baby size and belly size are likely starting to feel unwieldy, so don’t forget to take it slow.
Why does baby move so much at night?
It’s not uncommon to hear people say that their 26-week fetus is most active at night. In fact, the majority of babies in utero are active in the evening or at night! Though it’s not exactly clear why this is, scientists believe that fetuses are working on developing circadian rhythms, even in the womb. So if baby has decided that bedtime = partytime, take heart in knowing you’re not the only one being kept awake by their own baby.
You’ve probably got a couple weeks until your next prenatal appointment and typically there is no 26 weeks pregnant ultrasound, so you’re probably itching to find out what’s going on inside your 26 weeks pregnant belly. Here’s a look: Baby is taking breaths—of amniotic fluid, not air. It’s good practice for those first moments after birth!
Baby is getting their immune system ready for life on the outside by soaking up your antibodies. And baby's eyes are forming, and their eyes will soon start to open, if they haven’t already. Can you believe your 26-week fetus has already grown eyelashes? Soon, they’ll start batting them. (Aw!)
What does baby look like at 26 weeks in the womb?
At 26 weeks pregnant, pictures of baby are probably not in the cards, so you’ll just have to imagine what baby looks like right now. Baby is still working on putting on weight to get adorably chubby, and their eyes are looking around, though there’s not enough pigment in the iris to determine eye color quite yet. Baby is reacting more and more to stimulus, including reacting to bright lights, the sound of your voice (which they may now be able to recognize) and to pokes and prods through your belly. So even if you can’t take a peek inside your belly, you can still play with baby!
Start asking loved ones to get vaccinated
Any loved ones who will be in close contact with baby need to get an updated Tdap vaccination. You might find that older loved ones may brush this off, saying that they never did that when you were little, but hold firm. Things change, and this is important.
Time for a safety check
You may be enjoying a baby shower sometime soon, or gifts may start to roll in from friends and family. Yay! Just keep in mind that people aren’t always savvy about checking updated safety standards, so you may have to go through to make sure gifts (and especially hand-me-downs) are safe for baby. Graciously return or exchange anything that doesn’t pass muster.
If you haven’t started talking to baby yet, now’s the time to get chatty. You can read books, sing songs or just narrate your day so baby has a chance to enjoy your voice. Loved ones can also talk to your belly so baby can learn their voices too.
Keep up with exercise
In all honesty, getting your exercise is only going to get harder as your belly grows. For now, you’re probably still feeling pretty spritely, so use that energy while you have it and get whatever exercise you can.
Reminders for the week:
Medical content was reviewed November 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.