This week, your baby’s hearing improves, your blood pressure may increase, and you might start meeting other mums to be. Find out what else is happening to your baby and your body at week 26.
How big is my baby at 26 weeks?
Your baby just keeps growing and growing. This week she weighs two pounds, and measures over 14 inches long, about the size of a scallion from top to toe. You could make a delicious salad with all the ingredients your baby has resembled over the past few months!
What’s my baby doing at 26 weeks?
There are many developments with your baby this week. Firstly, her ears will be better developed and more sensitive than ever before: she’ll be able to hear your voice and your partner’s voice as you speak to each other.
She’ll also slowly be opening her eyes. Those pretty peepers have been closed so far, to allow her retina to develop, but they’re now beginning to open and see what’s going on inside your uterus. Try shining a torch at your stomach and see if your baby kicks in response to the stimulus. It’s too early to know your baby’s eye colour, though: the coloured part of the eye, the iris, will only fill in over the next month or two.
There are other senses at work, too: your baby can now not only hear noises, but respond to them too, not by talking, of course, but by moving or with an increase in the pulse rate.
Your baby’s heart rate will have slowed down considerably by this week too, from 180 beats per minute to 140 to 150 beats per minute. This can be monitored on a cardiotocography (CTG) machine during your antenatal appointments and is a useful way of checking your baby’s wellbeing.
If you’re having a boy, his testicles will soon begin to descend into his scrotum, a process that can take up to three months.
What is my body doing at 26 weeks pregnant?
Take a peek down to that ever-growing belly and you’ll notice that your belly button is now very firmly an outie. This is due to your uterus swelling and pushing your abdomen forward. Don’t worry, though, your belly button will go back into place in the months after your baby is born.
You should also keep an eye on your blood pressure. Your blood pressure will be checked at each antenatal appointment. In pregnancy, your blood pressure normally falls as blood vessels relax and dilate to cope with the extra blood volume flowing through them. This means you may feel faint or dizzy, especially if you stand up quickly.
However, about five to 10% of pregnancies can develop pregnancy hypertension (high blood pressure). Most cases are mild, but some can be complicated by pre-eclampsia, which along with high blood pressure, also has other symptoms such as protein in your urine. In general, blood pressure above 150/100 will need treatment.
Common symptoms to look out for:
- Sleepless nights: Find yourself struggling with insomnia? It’s no surprise, given all you have to deal with, from constantly needing the toilet to heartburn. Try to drink less before bed and to do a bit of exercise each day to help make drifting off easier.
- Painful baby movements: As your baby grows, she’s becoming more athletic than ever - but some of those artful kicks and shoves can, believe it or not, hurt! If the movements become painful, try to shift positions or stretch.
- Migraines: If you suffered from migraines before becoming pregnant, chances are you may have them more often now you’re pregnant. Steer clear of strong migraine medicine, but try holistic therapies such as massage, meditation and yoga, which are pregnancy-friendly.
- Clumsiness: Find yourself knocking into things more than usual, or tripping up? This is due to your loosened joints, extra weight and your shifted centre of gravity. This won't last forever - as with many other symptoms, it will disappear once you have your baby - but for now, take extra careful when you’re on slippery surfaces and in the bath and shower.
What to do this week:
Now’s the time to start thinking about and looking into which antenatal classes, if any, you’d like to take. The classes can be invaluable to lots of new mums as you’ll learn useful information on birth and how to care for your baby. And they can help socially, too, as you get to meet other mums in your area.
You can book yourself onto NHS classes though your local hospital or birth centre, or sign up for National Childbirth Trust (NCT) classes. You’ll probably start these classes in the next few weeks and they can be in the daytime, evening or at weekends.
You’re entitled to time off work to attend them. Try and get your partner to go along, too, so he can get ready for your birth – and your baby…
Read next, the best spas for pregnancy massage:
LAVA shells massage, £125, Spa Verta in Crowne Plaza BatterseaThe perfect pregnancy and post-pregnancy massage that will take care of all your aches and pains. Lava Mama uses gentle heat with the options of a cool Lava Shell, specifically adapted to each mum's needs. The massage is suitable for pregnant clients from 14 weeks onwards and while nursing post-pregnancy.
GOOD TO KNOW
The treatment also aims to improve energy levels, assisting circulation and alleviating puffiness and fluid build-up. The clever combination of gentle but effective warmth and cold assists with pain relief and reduces muscle spasm in over-worked muscles.
Ragdale Hall, Leicestershire, £64, ragdalehall.co.ukSuitable from 12 weeks, this is a gorgeous treat if you’ve been feeling tired, grumpy and out of sorts. It takes an holistic approach, mixing deep breathing and rhythmic massage with special attention to hands, feet, head and pressure points. There’s even aura cleansing at the end. This treatment is a great way to recharge your batteries.
GOOD TO KNOW: You’ll find Ragdale Hall’s famous robes-and-tracksuits-only policy liberating. It’s comfy slippers and soft terry-towelling all the way - even in the restaurant… You can also buy gift vouchers for Ragdale, the perfect present for mums-to-be or mummy friends who need a bit of pampering - vouchers start from just £25.
Wynyard Hall, Tees Valley, £65, wynyardhall.co.ukPamper yourself with an overnight stay at this beautiful country house hotel and spa. The pregnancy massage is all about deep relaxation, and carried out by therapists specially trained in the needs of exhausted or uncomfortable mums-to-be.
GOOD TO KNOW: Blow the budget with the £165 Yummy Mummy-to-Be two-and-a-half-hour treatment which adds full body massage to a facial, legs and feet treatment.
Book a stay at Wynyard Hall now on booking.com
Champneys, all over the UK, from £65, champneys.comIt’s the award-winning omega-rich oils that really make this massage something special: they leave you feeling super-soft and comfortable, a perfect remedy for itchy, dry, stretched skin. There’s a focus on lower back, neck and scalp, so don’t be surprised if you drift off before the hour’s up…
GOOD TO KNOW: The bump benefits from a Yummy Mummy elasticising mask during the massage to help win the war against stretch marks!
Stobo Castle, Scotland, £39, stobocastle.co.ukThis gentle massage loosens pent-up tension and lets go of stress. Suitable for all stages of pregnancy (mention which trimester you’re in when booking), this is the kind of unhurried, soothing massage that leads to an amazing night’s sleep.
GOOD TO KNOW: There’s a hair studio at Stobo: book in for a cut and blowdry to banish ‘massage hair’ and you’ll go home looking and feeling like a whole new woman.
The Mill Wheel Spa, Staffordshire, £55, 3shoeinn.co.ukCleverly, this whole body massage evolves and adapts as your pregnancy advances, so it’s worth signing up for a course to get the full benefit. In the first trimester, the therapist uses peppermint oils to help morning sickness, in the second a double back massage for aches, and as due date nears, the feet, hands and ankles get extra care.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Heaven Massage is the brainchild of beauty guru Deborah Mitchell, creator of the Bee Venom Mask, a firm fave of celebs including the Duchess of Cambridge.
Book a stay at The Three Horseshoes Inn on booking.com
Christchurch Harbour Spa, Dorset, £70, christchurch-harbour-hotel.co.ukStarting with a gentle exfoliation to slough away dry skin, this 55-minute massage targets areas that are feeling the strain, whether that’s tense shoulders, tender back or puffy feet. ESPA oils are 100 percent natural so there’s no nasty chemicals to worry about.
GOOD TO KNOW: If time allows, try the Pregnancy Pamper treatment (90 minutes, £100), if only for its glorious foot soak and leisurely leg massage.
Book a stay at Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa on booking.com
The Titanic Spa, West Yorkshire, £75, titanicspa.comThis combination of massage, mini facial and ‘tummy mask’ can be tailored to address anything that may be causing you concern, from pigmentation to water retention or pesky stretch marks. You can book in any time from three months right up to due date.
GOOD TO KNOW: Decléor’s oils are all botanic and smell wonderfully uplifting - think neroli, ylang, ylang, mandarin, iris and rose. A natural way to boost your spirits.
Weavers’ House Spa, Suffolk, £70, theswanatlavenham.co.ukComfort’s the key thing here: this whole massage is performed while you lie on your back on a floating Hydrotherm mattress, which is filled with water heated to your exact body temperature. It’s like being hugged…
GOOD TO KNOW: Set in a picture-postcard medieval village, this spa hotel is a lovely option for a sneaky night away or a spa day with lavish afternoon tea.
Book a stay at The Swan at Lavenham on booking.com
Ramside Hall Hotel, County Durham, £110, ramsidespa.co.ukUnusually, Ramside Hall has a whole host of treatments for pregnancy and this package includes both a back and scalp massage, plus a radiance facial. Over an hour and half, the masseuse eases away tension and nagging aches. Blissful.
GOOD TO KNOW: The 45-minute Lighter Legs treatment is well worth a go too if you’re suffering from tired feet or painful joints.
Book a stay at Ramside Hall Hotel on booking.com
The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, from £76, celtic-manor.comThough famous for its championship golf courses, The Celtic Manor boasts a sanctuary-like spa that’s really world-class. This prenatal massage has won awards and takes place on an Elemis beanbag for extra safety and comfort. Goodbye back pain and swollen hands! It’s suitable from the first trimester onwards.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Forum Spa has a dreamy swimming pool lit with stars like the night sky if you fancy a dip after your treatment.
Book a stay at The Celtic Manor Resort on booking.com
Cowshed, various London locations, £80, cowshedonline.comThe ‘Udderly gorgeous’ treatments for expectant mothers are the perfect ways to pamper yourself before your new arrival. All mummy-to-be treatments contain sea buckthorn oil to give your growing skin a much needed MOT, maintaining skin tone and elasticity, whilst being deeply relaxing.
GOOD TO KNOW: Inspired by the original Cowshed Spa at Babington House in Somerset, these London havens are the perfect place to unwind in the city. Whether you’re fitting this in on your lunchbreak, or have time to sit and relax afterwards, you won’t regret.