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  • Pregnancy Symptoms Week 24: It's Time to Learn About Preterm Labor

    Just one month more into your pregnancy, and you'll be in your third trimester!
    by Rachel Perez .
Pregnancy Symptoms Week 24: It's Time to Learn About Preterm Labor
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You are now 24 weeks pregnant! Just a couple of more weeks until you say goodbye to the second trimester. Your pregnancy at this point means, having a still growing baby bump is going to cause you discomfort, but it will be manageable hopefully. You should be getting pumped and ready for your third trimester although it's easy to understand why you may be starting to feel less mobile now.

    Pregnancy signs Week 24

    You are looking legit pregnant now with your defined baby bump, which is probably as big as a soccer ball. The bump may feel awkward, leading you to experience a dip in your sex drive, but embrace those curves! Gone are the days of tent-like maternity fashion. Wear tops and dresses that hug your pregnant silhouette.

    You will see pregnancy signs that may not be to your liking but they will not cause you pain or discomfort. These are the outie belly button, the vertical dark line that develops across your belly called linea nigra, skin darkening on your neck, underarm, and possibly stretch marks. Your navel and these skin discolorations are expected to resolve on they're own after you give birth.

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    If you feel like you're more tired than usual and less mobile that you were after your morning sickness went away, it's probably because you're heavier now — and that's a good thing because it means your baby is growing. Not gaining weight may mean that your baby isn't getting enough nutrients.

    If you've been watching your weight gain, you should have gained just within 14 to 16 pounds if you had a normal body mass index pre-pregnancy. Having increased appetite is not an excuse to gain too much weight than recommended as it makes you more at risk to develop gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and other pregnancy complications. Doing low-impact pregnancy exercises about 20 to 30 minutes three times a week, plus eating a healthy and balanced diet should help keep pregnancy issues at bay.

    Pregnancy symptoms Week 24

    Your body is still undergoing a lot of changes at week 24 of your pregnancy. Your pregnancy symptoms may get worse as your pregnancy progresses, but they are manageable.

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    Carpal tunnel syndrome

    Yes, that condition that causes pain and/or numbness in the hand and the arm can be a pregnancy symptom. The reason: the increasing fluids your body has been producing since you conceived. It can lead to swelling in your ankles, feet, and hands, which puts pressure on the nerves that run through your wrists, causing numbness, tingling, pain or a dull ache in the fingers, hand or wrist.

    Similar to having swollen ankles and feet, you can ease carpal tunnel syndrome by propping your arms up with a pillow at night to avoid sleeping on your hands. Hand-stretches and shaking your hands and wrists might also help. If it's too painful, consult your doctor, and he may suggest that wearing a wrist brace can help.

    Apart from carpal tunnel syndrome and swelling, increased bodily fluids can also cause symptoms such as increased vaginal discharge, vision problems, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, bleeding gums, stuffy nose, and nosebleeds.

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    Red, itchy palms

    Having red, itchy palms is not unheard of during pregnancy. It can spread, too, from your palms to the soles of your feet. Alert your doctor since it could indicate a rare pregnancy complication called cholestasis.

    The American Pregnancy Association defines intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) as a liver disease in which the normal flow of bile is affected by the increased amounts of pregnancy hormones. It's more common in the last trimester of pregnancy when hormones are at their peak but usually goes away within a few days after delivery.

    For the time being, lessen the redness by avoiding becoming overheated, taking long, hot baths or showers, or wearing too-warm or too-tight gloves or socks. Soaking your hands and feet in cold water or applying an ice pack for a few minutes may also help.

    Insomnia

    Sleep troubles during pregnancy can be due to backaches, difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position, and worrying too much about childbirth or motherhood. Using pillows can help you find an excellent side-lying sleeping position. Natural sleep remedies such as meditation, warm milk before bed, or with your doctor's okay, a bit more exercise to wear yourself out to fall asleep quickly by bedtime.

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    Stretch marks

    Your skin is stretching to accommodate your baby's growth. Lathering up your midsection with moisturizers will help prevent dryness and itchiness and keep stretch marks at bay. Apply moisturizers around your breasts, arms, and thighs, too! If you do get stretch marks, while are permanent, they will fade or lighten over time.

    Aches and pains

    It doesn't help that you're carrying extra weight now, which is affecting your posture and movement. You may experience some aches and pains in your back, lower belly or groin area (or round ligament pain), and your hips. Regular pregnancy exercises and having correct posture can help relieve pain. Tell your doctor right away if any aches or pains become more intense.

    Leg cramps

    Getting woken up in the middle of the night by painful cramps on the calves had been linked to diet, weight gain, and muscle fatigue. Prenatal yoga and doing calf stretches, such as stretching your legs and then gently flexing your ankle and toes back towards your knees, before bedtime can help ease or prevent leg cramps.

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    Headaches

    It could be due to hormone levels or just the lack of sleep. If your headaches last for days, are severe and are sometimes accompanied by nausea or vision changes, they might be migraines. Consult your doctor before taking any medication. Take note of when you have them and how intense they are to let your doctor know and rule out preeclampsia.

    Your baby's development at 24 Weeks

    At 24 weeks, your baby is the size of a cantaloupe or a pomegranate, measuring nearly 12 inches long and weighing about 1.3 pounds. Your little one is bulking up — growing muscles, strengthening his bones, and accumulating baby fat, which is why his skin is starting to be more opaque than translucent.

    Your baby is also maturing his organs. His hearing has improved a lot. The balance-controlling inner ear is fully developed so he can now tell if he's upside down or right side up in your womb. His facial features are also more defined and complete with hair, which is white (!) since it has no pigment yet.

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    Your little one's nostrils are opening now to practice breathin — he's inhaling amniotic fluid instead of air for now. Your baby's lungs, however, has begun to produce surfactant, which helps to keep tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli open. It is crucial since it will help him breath once he's out in the real world.

    If your baby were to be born at 24 weeks, he may survive outside of the womb, but he will spend time in a special neonatal ventilator.

    Your to-do list on Week 24 of your pregnancy

    In just a month, four more weeks, you'll be in your third trimester, so let that sink in for a moment. It may be best to delegate gender reveals, baby showers, and even baby shopping to your trusted friend, so you don't get distracted from more important things.

    Focus being healthy.

    Do everything to protect yourself and steer clear of exposing yourself to anything that might make you sick. Listen to your body and take it easy. Focus on eating healthy and getting enough exercise. Stay on top of your prenatal appointments and laboratory tests. Between 24 and 28 weeks, you should be getting your oral glucose test done. It measures your blood sugar levels and will help your doctor determine how much you're at risk for gestational diabetes.

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    Learn about preterm labor

    Though your baby may survive outside the womb at 24 weeks, no one wants to give birth prematurely. Unless there is a health risk for you or your baby, your doctor will want him to continue "cooking in your womb" until he's reached full term or at least 38 weeks.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure if you're at risk for preterm labor. The most common reasons for premature labor include carrying multiples, incompetent cervix, and high-risk pregnancies and pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

    Preterm labor and birth can happen almost any time — and fast. The moment you feel that you're going into labor — you're having regular contractions, bleeding, or your water bag is leaking or had been broken — head to the hospital's emergency room as soon as you can.

    Finalize your birth plan

    Ideally, you should have a concrete idea of how you want to give birth and where and have talked about your birth plan with your doctor. You may want to consider getting a doula to help you be more involved in the decision-making during delivery. Attending birth and newborn care classes can help you be more confident in childbirth and the early days of being a mom. Don't forget to start working on your postpartum care plan as well since you should have laid out the documents for filing your maternity leave.

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    Relax and have fun!

    While it has not been comfortable moving with your growing baby bump, enjoy nesting, decorating your baby's nursery, shopping for baby essentials or fixing your baby registry, and finalizing baby names. Try to start babyproofing your home as well. It's not too late to go on a babymoon, too, as long as your doctor has given you the clear to travel.

    More on your week-by-week pregnancy:

    Pregnancy Symptoms Week 23: Get Ready for Braxton Hicks Contractions

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