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23 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 23 Weeks

Around this time you may start experiencing some Braxton Hicks contractions – which are small, harmless contractions to slowly prepare the body for the real ones on the big day! In truth you’ve probably had them since week 6 but are only just beginning to feel them. You may experience these little contractions with increasing frequency throughout your pregnancy. But don’t worry if you don’t, as many women never feel them.

Your baby’s body is growing into better proportion with her head. Her audio sensitivity to the world outside is increasing more and more. Many couples choose to read or talk to their little ones around now, and certain types of music (for example some classical) are said to be relaxing. Who knows, if you put some pop music on, your little one might even get a kick out of it – literally.

Why I am experiencing so much wind and bloating now I’m pregnant?
While everyone experiences wind sometimes, unfortunately during pregnancy most women find that their level of wind skyrockets. You’ll probably find there are times when you have to unbutton your trousers because of bloating, way before your bump starts to show. How unfair!

Wind increases during pregnancy because your body is producing extra progesterone which can cause digestive problems. Progesterone causes the smooth muscle tissue throughout your body (including the muscle tissue that aids digestion) to relax.

Unfortunately this means extra bloating, wind and discomfort in your stomach, especially if you’ve eaten a big meal. Later on in your pregnancy your growing baby takes up a lot of space in your tummy. This can slow digestion even further. Yikes!

Are there certain foods making my wind and bloating worse?
Certain foods can make wind and bloating worse, especially some carbohydrates. Some fats can also add to a feeling of bloating because they slow down the time it takes for your stomach to empty.

Each person is different though and while certain foods give some women bad wind, others aren’t bothered by them at all. In many ways it’s a case of trial and error. Having said that, there are certain foods that do tend to be culprits in a lot of cases. For example:

  • You may be lactose intolerant (intolerant to the sugar found in dairy products) which could cause bloating after drinking milk or eating ice-cream.
  • Foods which cause many people problems are often those which contain carbohydrates that the body can’t digest properly. For example artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussells sprouts, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, or prunes.
  • You may also experience wind after eating or drinking fructose (sugar found in fruit) or sorbital, a type of artificial sweetener.

What can I do to relieve pregnancy wind and bloating?
If you suspect certain foods may be causing you problems, try reducing your intake of them and see what happens. But you need to be careful that you don’t go overboard and neglect your nutritional needs. Remember that nourishment for you and your growing baby is the most important thing and vegetables are essential.

Try out different food combinations. For instance you might find that eating four types of vegetables and only one portion of fruit per day is best for you. Every woman is different. You may want to cut out fried foods or those very high in fat (this is probably a good idea anyway). These don’t cause wind in themselves but they can slow digestion which creates a bloated feeling.

Many women also find the following helpful:

  • Eat several small meals rather than two or three large meals
  • Eat nice and slowly and chew thoroughly. This aids proper digestion
  • Sit up to eat and drink, even for small snacks, so that your stomach isn’t squashed when you’re digesting
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing to avoid any constriction around your tummy
  • Take a bit of gentle exercise. You’d be amazed what a walk can do for a sluggish digestive system
  • Avoid chewing gum or smoking. Both stimulate saliva, which makes you swallow more. In any case it’s very important to stop smoking in pregnancy to protect your baby.

My stomach hurts and I’ve got wind. Does this mean that something is wrong?
If your discomfort ever becomes severe or feels more like cramping (especially if you feel it only on one side) then contact your doctor or midwife. It may just be a stomach bug, food poisoning or severe indigestion but there is a chance it could be pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is serious so if you have doubts then do pick up the phone.

Possible Scan at Week 23
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 23
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.