Your little baby is now about 24 cm long and weighs around 350 grams. The head is about 4 cm in diameter and the brain is undergoing a mighty period of development. Motor skills will require a few million nerve cells. The development of neural pathways means your baby is now testing its reflexes, gripping, and sucking its thumb, as shown in the picture. The baby is also swallowing amniotic fluid, an innate reflex that is important after birth, when they start to eat. Plenty of space remains for the baby to move around; it is diving and rolling about in the half litre of amniotic fluid surrounding it. There is significant turnover of the fluid, as the baby actually swallows half of it each day and urinates that much back out. Its little heart beats between 110 and 160 bpm, just as it should. Up to this point, your baby has grown about as much per week as every other baby in wombs world-wide – but as of now, there will be more individual variation in how much they grow.
You’ve made it through half of your pregnancy – go you! Although: maybe you don’t have tons of energy to celebrate? It’s not uncommon to start feeling tired, which at this halfway point could very well be due to an iron deficiency. There’s nothing unusual about that, because your body is currently making 40 to 50% more blood than usual. That is the body’s fascinating and brilliant way of adapting and taking over, so that the pregnancy has the best possible conditions. All of that extra blood is necessary for the baby to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs. But not only that: this blood also provides you with a reserve, so that you can bleed when you give birth. Which is what happens: there will be a fair amount of blood, even if that isn’t something that most people think about right now. If that sounds a little unpleasant, you can talk to your doctor or midwife. Your iron levels will be regularly checked, but if you’re feeling dizzy or tired and it will be a while before your next checkup, then you should absolutely call and talk to your medical provider. You should not have to accept fatigue without knowing your current iron levels! You can get extra iron by eating an iron-rich diet, but most people need some kind of iron supplement during pregnancy.
You’re halfway there! Maybe you haven’t felt the first kick yet, but it will come soon. At this point, when you can start to feel the baby’s movements, it’s tough to know if you really felt a kick; it could almost seem more like a tickle or butterfly flapping inside the belly. For the partner who isn’t carrying the baby, it will probably be a while before you can feel those magical movements. Don’t be surprised if the baby stops kicking exactly when you go to place your hand on the belly – already now, your baby will do just as it pleases! The jostling movements of your partner walking around can often lull the baby to sleep – only to then roll about in the evening and at night, when it’s time to sleep. So one idea is to lay your hand on the belly when you’re both taking it easy later in the evening. Then and there, you could feel a kick and your heart might skip a beat! The further into pregnancy you get, the more powerful the kicks will feel. Towards the end, you might even be able to discern a little hand or foot under the skin.