Mother and Baby

5 months pregnant: Belly, symptoms and baby development

Section: Month by Month

Every pregnancy journey is different and there's a good chance your baby bump is probably quite visible now at 5 months pregnant. 

No doubt you've also noticed you're adjusting to your changing centre of gravity and it's now time for the anomaly scan, in which you can also find out the sex of your baby.

We take a look here at some of the common pregnancy symptoms at 5 months pregnant and how your body is changing.

Your body and symptoms at five months pregnant

Here are common symptoms you may be experiencing at this milestone:

  • Pregnancy dreams: Pregnancy dreams are a thing. Pregnancy dreams are so vivid that Steven Spielberg could only wish he’d directed something so full of fear and emotion. These nightmares basically seem to offer up all your worries and fears for your viewing pleasure. They are really common and won’t last forever.

  • Baby's first kicks: If you’re lucky your precious cargo might have started kicking by now. This happens at different stages for every woman, but the first tiny movements can usually be felt between 16 and 25 weeks. The first flutters are tricky to work out but there can be no doubt that when you feel your little fish flipping about you know you would put up with a lifetime of nightmares just to know they are happy.

  • Strange pregnancy pains: You’re probably experiencing the joy of round ligament pain around now, although it can start much earlier. It often makes you wince if you stand up too quickly from a chair or bed and it bloody hurts. You can feel it in the lower belly or groin area and it’s basically the muscle that connects your womb to your groin, so it’s under a lot of pressure right now (yeah, we know, join the club). Pregnant women should be given a list of all the weird and wonderful pains likely to be experienced over the next nine months so they can be ticked off as you go - because Dr. Google is not the answer, Dr. Google can make you feel worse. If you're worried, speak to a healthcare professional. If the pregnancy is giving you aches and pains all over, it might be worth trying out a specialist pregnancy massage too! 

  • Stretchmarks: Wait, what is that, is that a...stretchmark? They’re called Tiger Stripes these days by the way. As well as more stretchmarks appearing you might also find that your innie belly button becomes an outie as your stomach expands. But don't worry - this will go back once you've given birth. 

  • Heartburn and indigestion: As your baby grows it will push up against your stomach and cause you to experience indigestion or heartburn. It's a very common symptom of pregnancy and nothing to worry about. You'll often feel it as a bloting sensation or feeling of sickness. You could also feel a pain or burning sensation in the chest. If you're struggling with the symptoms you could try changing your eating and drinking habits by eating little and often rather than a large meal. You could also try cutting down on rich and spicy foods as well as cutting out caffeine. 

  • Headaches: Regular light headaches when pregnant can often be caused by spending periods of time in stuffy brightly-lit rooms and occur when you feel a bit too hot and bothered. Try taking regular breaks outside in the fresh air and wear cool and comfortable clothing to avoid triggering a headache. If your headaches worsen and become severe you should call your maternity unit or midwife

  • Fainting and dizziness: As your hormones change, it's common to feel the odd dizzy spell. To avoid fainting or feeling dizzy, make sure you're taking these easy. Try not to stand up to fast and be very careful when getting out of a hot bath. Laying down on your side rather than your back can also cure dizziness. 

  • Leg cramps and swelling: Leg cramps during pregnancy can be quite common and although it can be hard to find the exact cause, most pregnant women experience it as a result of decreased circulation in the legs because of the pressure baby is putting on your blood vessels, fatigue or even the baby pressing on certain nerves. And while they are annoying, most of the time they are nothing to worry about. If they do seem to be happening a bit too often however and regulalrly disturbing your sleep, it might be a good idea to check in with your midwife. 

  • Swollen ankles: Another common leg complaint during pregnancy is swollen ankles. The swelling tends to come on gradually meaning it's sometimes worse towards the end of the day. It comes on because your body is holding a lot more water than normal while pregnant, which tends to gather in the lowest part of the body. If you find the swelling has come on quickly, you should call your midwife immediately. 

Gallery: What is happening in your belly at five months pregnant?

From their growing size to their increased movements, find out what your baby is up to at five months.


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1) They're the size of a carrot

Your baby is now at 21 weeks and weighs around 360 grams, and is the length of a carrot. 
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2) Weighs more than the placenta!

The baby is putting on a lot of weight at this stage, and they even weigh more than the placenta. 
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3) Your baby is soft

At this point of their development, they are covered in a soft layer of hair called lanugo. They will lose it before birth or shortly after. 
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4) They have their own sleeping pattern

At this stage, your nights might be restless, as your baby has their own sleep cycle. So, they could be moving around when you're trying to sleep.
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5) Becoming stronger

It's that time where your baby is becoming a lot stronger than you may think. You can tell by their movements being a lot stronger (that you'll be able to feel) and there might even be a pattern of these movements. 

Finding out baby's gender

If you don't plan on waiting until the big day to find out the gender of your baby, now is the time you can find out if you're expecting a boy or girl at your 20-week scan! Why not give our Chinese gender predictor tool a go while you're waiting to head to your scan? Remember, it's completely up to you whether you find out or not. Some parents are desperate for that extra bit of insight into their child while others want to keep the news a surprise.

Upping your iron intake

Around 20 weeks pregnant, your stored iron supply is becoming depleted and your baby wants those red blood cells which may put you at risk of low iron levels or anemia. "During pregnancy the body’s demand for iron is greater. It is needed in pregnancy for your baby’s growth and brain development," says the NHS. Talk to your doctor about suitable supplements and up your iron-rich food intake with foods such as dark-green leafy vegetables, fish and white and red meat.

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  • Author: Emily Thorpe Emily Thorpe
  • Job Title: Digital Writer

Having written for Mother&Baby magazine for four years where she wrote news, product pages, features and interviewed celebrities such as Paloma Faith and Fearne Cotton, Emily now works as Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online where she specialises in travel and product reviews.