Weekly Guide to Pregnancy: Week 24
How big is my baby?
Fetal size: 21cm (8.4 inches). Fetal weight: 530 grams (1.2 pounds).
Your baby continues to gain weight. Development is occurring in the brain, growth and increase in size of the kidneys, lungs and gastrointestinal tract (gut).
What pregnancy symptoms will I be experiencing?
Feeling your baby move - you first becomes aware of your baby's movements some time between Weeks 16 and 20. Initially the movements feel like little "flutters", as your baby is small and floats in the amniotic fluid. As your baby grows, the movements become stronger and more pronounced. The baby will develop its own movement pattern and will have periods of activity followed by more quiet periods. These movements are a good sign that the baby is healthy, so any obvious reduction in movement should be reported to your health care professional.
Car safety - it is important to wear a seat belt during pregnancy, and to place the belt across the thighs and above the tummy, rather than across the middle of the tummy. This will prevent any undue pressure on the baby if you are involved in an accident.
Nipples - during pregnancy your nipples may become darker and more prominent. There is no advice that has been proven to prepare nipples for breastfeeding, however it is advisable to become familiar with your breasts and nipples. Later in pregnancy you should try to express a little colostrum and rub this into your nipples. If you think that you may have retracted or inverted nipples, it is best to seek advice from your health care professional.
Breastfeeding - it is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that babies be breastfed for the first 12 months of life. Breastfeeding is best for the baby, even if it is only for a short period. Breast milk is nutritionally perfect for babies and is already at the right temperature. It provides everything a baby needs in exactly the right proportions for the first six months of life, and from then up to the age of two years in combination with solids.
Breast milk is proven to help reduce the risks of your baby developing allergies, asthma, eczema and diabetes later in life. Breastfeeding may also help to prevent cot death. Another advantage of breastfeeding is that it releases hormones that encourage the uterus to shrink back to its original size more quickly. Furthermore, it also uses a considerable amount of calories, helping to use up extra fat stores that were built up in pregnancy. Consequently your figure is more easily returned to normal following birth.
Deciding whether or not to breastfeed is a personal decision and your decision that you need to feel comfortable with. Whatever your decision it will be respected.
Establishing breastfeeding requires patience and practice. Some women have no problems, while others can develop difficulties, although these are usually short term. Midwives and lactation consultants are available to help you to establish breastfeeding. Once established, breastfeeding becomes even easier and is very convenient.
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