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22 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 22 Weeks

Inside you, your precious one has the appearance of a tiny newborn, with facial features becoming more defined all the time. As her skeleton develops, her bones begin to harden – although she will keep some ‘soft spots’ for several years.

If you choose, you can have a 4D Scan conducted privately, which will offer you real video footage of your baby inside the womb! You’ll be able to see what she looks like, and you may even catch her stretching.

Your bump is getting bigger by the day and now you’re most definitely visibly pregnant! Although you’ll still be relatively comfortable and able to bend and sit down fairly easily, you need to be conscious of your movements. Remember to bend from the knee!

Unfortunately, you may find you experience some piles (swollen veins around the back passage). Many pregnant women suffer from them because pregnancy hormones relax the veins. They may feel sore, itchy and even bleed a little bit, especially after going to the toilet. But don’t worry; they usually disappear after delivery. Just try to drink a lot of water and eat high-fibre foods. If you feel especially uncomfortable you could ask your midwife or doctor for something to treat them with.

Help! Why am I so constipated?
Constipation is very common in pregnancy because progesterone (the pregnancy hormone) relaxes and slows your intestinal movement. Furthermore, as your pregnancy wears on and your little one grows, increased downward pressure inside you furthers pelvic congestion, making you more susceptible to constipation.

If you tend to be prone to constipation or have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or if you have suffered from morning sickness that has seriously affected your food choices and eating patterns, you are even more likely to experience constipation in pregnancy.

What I can do to relieve my constipation?
If you are experiencing constipation, you are likely to be feeling a bit fed up. If you haven’t had any constipation yet, then take steps to prevent it because it’s a pain in the bum – literally!

Constipation can also make haemorrhoids (piles) worse – which are already a problem for many women in pregnancy. Ouch. Thankfully there are things you can do to treat and prevent constipation in pregnancy.

  • Check your supplements. For example some types of iron tablets can aggravate constipation.
  • Make sure your fluid intake is at least 1.5 litres per day. Avoid diuretic drinks (i.e. those that stimulate urine production) such as tea, coffee, cola or alcohol because they can dehydrate you, which in turn can increase the risk of constipation.
  • Don’t just pack in the bran to treat constipation. Although it’s traditionally believed that this is the answer, in fact too much roughage without enough fluid intake can bulk up the stool and make it difficult to pass through the intestines. Excessive amounts of roughage can also interfere with your body’s absorption of nutrients.
  • Get in some exercise (as long as it is safe). For most pregnant women, gentle exercise such as swimming, pregnancy yoga or walking, can really help to keep the body’s systems running smoothly. In fact there are particular yoga positions that can be used to tackle constipation and many women find Tai Chi or Qi gong helpful. Always tell your instructor you are pregnant though and if you’re unsure about exercise, speak to your healthcare provider. Read our tips on exercise in pregnancy.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and veg! This is really important. Foods high in vitamin C (such as oranges, grapefruits, blackberries, broccoli and green pepper) are very helpful. It’s also true what they say – prunes are effective at clearing any blockage! Cabbage, spinach and celery are also good, and pulses (such as beans and chick peas) can be a good source of fibre and lean protein. Read our tips on healthy eating in pregnancy.
  • Eat seeds. Okay, so we know you don’t want to feel like a bird at feeding time but honestly, seeds such as flax seeds or ispagula husks (the seeds from plantain) can really help relieve the sluggishness and you can easily find them at your local health food shop. Just be sure to drink plenty of water (at least 8 glasses a day) at the same time. Also be aware that some seeds aren’t suitable for people on heart medication.
  • Think about herbal remedies or homeopathy. There are teas (such as dandelion or mallow) and homeopathic remedies (such as sepia, graphites or lycopodium) which can help. But a word of caution. Some remedies (for example senna) should be avoided altogether in pregnancy and none should be taken without proper advice first. Homeopathic remedies are prescribed for quite specific symptoms and so ideally you should always seek the guidance of a qualified practitioner who is trained and experienced in working with pregnant women.
  • Try some aromatherapy. Mix three or four drops of essentials oils like lime, lemon, sweet orange or bergamot with a teaspoon of carrier oil (like grapeseed or sweet almond) and then add it to your bathwater. But remember, baths should only be warm, never hot in pregnancy. Read our guidance on baths in pregnancy. You can then try gently massaging your tummy in a clockwise motion. However, be careful to avoid vigorous or firm massage, especially if you’ve been told you have a low-lying placenta or are at risk of premature labour.
  • Take 5 minutes for some reflexology. This is a great excuse to get a massage out of your partner! Get them to massage your foot arches (this is the reflexology digestive zone) in clockwise motion for around five minutes on each foot. Or you could practice hand reflexology on yourself by massaging the dip in your palms in a clockwise motion. One other technique is to rest two bottles under your foot arches when you’re sitting down relaxing, gently rolling them backwards and forwards. But let’s be honest, getting a foot rub from your partner is the most fun!
  • Try pelvic floor relaxation. Give yourself proper time and privacy to go to the loo. Sit on the toilet breathing deeply. Exhale slowly so that your pelvic floor muscles become relaxed. Avoid straining.
  • Try standing up to pass a stool. It sounds strange, but this technique can sometimes help because it encourages pelvic floor relaxation. Try it with one knee bent with your foot on a chair or the side of the bath.
  • Think about complementary therapies. If symptoms persist, you might want to consider consulting a properly qualified practitioner of a therapy such as acupuncture or shiatsu. These techniques are relatively mainstream these days and many people find them helpful. However, make sure you find someone registered and insured, who is experienced in treating pregnant women.
  • Avoid certain otherwise-recommended solutions such as senna and colonic irrigation; enemas are not considered suitable for pregnant women as they can have a negative effect on the lower colon’s Ph and bacterial balance.

Possible Scan at Week 22
Sometimes known as a 20 Week Scan, an Anomaly Scan is your baby’s anatomy is examined in detail. Measurements will be made of the head, brain, abdomen and legs. These will be plotted on a chart. Then your baby’s heart, brain, spine, bowel and limbs are checked to detect any abnormalities. This can never completely guarantee that the baby will be normal, but it gives very strong reassurance. The placenta, amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord are also all checked. If you wish, you can find out the sex of your baby from this scan.

An Anomaly Scan can be performed from 18 weeks but some doctors advise scans between 22-24 weeks. This is because often at that time the images of the baby are clearer. However, it’s not advisable to schedule this scan beyond 24 weeks because after that time the baby is more likely to adopt a position that is unfavourable for clear views.

You’ll be given a few pictures of your baby to keep. Some clinics also offer you a chance to get a glimpse of your baby in 4D (moving film), but this is in addition to the Anomaly Scan and charged accordingly.

Possible Scan at Week 22
A Sexing Scan (also sometimes called a Gender Identification Scan) can be performed to find out the sex of your baby at this stage.

The baby will also be measured and your medical professional will assess his or her wellbeing. Sexing scans are highly reliable but can be more difficult if a woman is very overweight, or if the baby is in an unfavourable position.

Gender Scan or Sexing Scan

Gender Scan (Boy) Picture (Click image to enlarge)

Generally, if a healthcare professional is unsure about the sex of your baby they won’t guess. But thankfully it’s very unusual to be unable to determine the sex of the baby.

Possible Scan at Week 22
A Reassurance Scan can be performed anywhere from 14-22 weeks. It’s not usually necessary but might be advisable if you have had bleeding or have been unwell.

The baby’s head, abdomen, and leg length will be measured. The placenta can be located and the amniotic fluid and umbilical cord assessed. The measurements will be plotted on a graph which you will be given.

Reassurance Scan

Reassurance Scan Picture (Click image to enlarge)

The scan is performed through the tummy (a trans-abdominal scan), and usually takes 15-20 minutes. You don’t need to have a full bladder and no special preparation is needed. You’ll have a few pictures of the baby to take away with you.