Mother and Baby

26 weeks pregnant: advice, symptoms and what to expect

Section: Week by Week
26 weeks pregnant

At twenty-six weeks pregnant, your baby’s hearing improves, your blood pressure may increase, and you might start meeting other mums to be. Find out about any other symptoms you might expect and what is happening to your baby and your body at 26 weeks.

How big is my baby at 26 weeks?

Your baby just keeps growing and growing. This week they weigh two pounds, and measures over 14 inches long, about the size of a whole head of kale 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, their ears will be better developed and more sensitive than ever before: they’ll be able to hear your voice and your partner’s voice as you speak to each other.

They will also slowly be opening their eyes. Those pretty peepers have been closed so far, to allow the 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.

7 common symptoms to look out for at 26 weeks pregnant:

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1) 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. 
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2) 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. 
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3) Blood pressure

A slight increase in blood pressure is common and totally normal at 26 weeks pregnant. If during a check up your doctor thinks the spike is too high, you may need to be regularly monitored. Hypertension can be a sign of pre-eclampsia or something else more serious. Luckily, there is a new app designed to help mothers with high blood pressure called The Hampton App.
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4) 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.
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5) 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. 
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6) Pregnancy brain

This is really an ongoing symptom for most mums-to-be. If being clumsy wasn't enough, are you becoming more forgetful and doing strange things you can't explain? Just like the clumsiness, there is a medical reason why. The hormone fluctuations can have a real effect on your ability to think and act clearly. This is always exacerbated by everything you have to think about.
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7) Swelling

You might be really sick and tired of having puffy legs, feet and ankles by now. However, this mild swelling is perfectly normal and is probably here to stay until your due date. Just make sure to contact your doctor if it is severe or sudden as it can be a sign of something more serious.


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. 

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 through 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…

Take me back to week 25

Take me to week 27

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