Weeks 21 to 24

By weeks 21 to 24, babies hear sounds outside the mother’s womb and they respond by kicking or moving. Talk to your baby often so that he or she will recognize your voice and be comforted by it, both now and after birth.

About your baby

Illustration of baby's development weeks 21 to 24The fetus is still small enough to change position a lot — from head-down to feet-down, or even sideways. The eyes are beginning to open and close and the brain is very active now.

Your baby can grip firmly with little hands, which now have fingernails and fingerprints. The skin is wrinkled, red, and shiny and real hair is starting to grow.

The fetus is still building up body fat and starting to put on a lot of weight. At the end of week 24, your baby will weigh in at around 1 to 1.5 pounds and measure 11 to 12 inches long.

About you

Pregnancy is a time when gaining the right amount of weight is essential to you and your baby’s health. It’s important not to skip meals or restrict eating to lose weight. Follow your practitioner’s advice on healthy eating and weight gain.

What’s normal:

  • You may notice a rhythmic jerking motion that can last several minutes. This means your baby has the hiccups! You don’t need to do anything about hiccups. They will stop soon and won’t hurt either of you.
  • You may also notice that your baby kicks and stretches more (and you may even be able to see your baby squirming under your clothes).

Tips for staying healthy

  • Get tips on parenting while pregnant. If you have 1 or more children at home, pregnancy won’t be your only focus.
  • If at any time, even during the last weeks of pregnancy, you notice that fetal movement has stopped for more than 2 hours, call your doctor.
  • Learn the signs of preterm labor.

Your to-do list

  • Enroll in a childbirth education class if you haven’t already done so.
  • Sign up for baby care and breastfeeding classes (if you plan to nurse). Ask your practitioner for recommendations.
  • Between now and 28 weeks, you will be given an oral glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes.
  • Keep track of fetal movement or kick-counts.
  • Prepare for changes in your relationship with your partner. If possible, take a “babymoon,” a weekend away with your partner to relax and enjoy yourselves before the new baby comes (while you can still travel). Get tips on traveling while pregnant.


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