23 Weeks Pregnant: baby’s development and recommendations

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and .
Last Update: 05/23/2023

Pregnancy is an exciting time full of changes for both the mother and the developing baby. The 23rd week of pregnancy corresponds to the sixth month of gestation and is therefore in the second trimester.

The size of the baby this week resembles that of an ear of corn. In addition, the hair covering it darkens and its respiratory apparatus continues to develop.

In relation to the mother, changes also occur in her body. The woman will have gained about 5-7 kilograms since the beginning of pregnancy, which can cause her to feel heavy and have back pains.

How is the baby's development?

The baby continues to grow throughout the pregnancy and, therefore, by the end of the 23rd week of pregnancy, the baby will measure around 27-29 cm counting the legs (or 20-21 cm if measured from skull to buttocks) and will weigh approximately 500 grams, although there may be variations.

Your skin is getting colored and becoming thicker and duller. Fat accumulates on and under the surface of the skin. However, the definitive skin color will not be acquired until birth and the baby is one year old.

In this week of pregnancy, lanugo (fine hair) already covers the whole body of the future baby and is getting darker. In addition, the baby has hair on the head and eyebrows and eyelashes have already formed. The pregnant woman may notice how the baby responds to loud noises, as the baby's auditory system is developing rapidly.

On the other hand, the baby's internal organs, such as the lungs and digestive system, continue to mature in the 23rd week of pregnancy. At this time, the lungs are not yet fully functional, but the alveoli are formed to allow gas exchange. Despite this, the baby continues to breathe through the umbilical cord, i.e., oxygen transport and carbon dioxide elimination occur through the umbilical cord.

Changes in the mother

Most pregnant women notice their baby's movements by the 23rd week of pregnancy, which reassures them that everything is progressing well. In addition, the belly continues to increase in size and the uterus is expanding. Specifically, the size of the uterus in the 23rd week of pregnancy is around 23-23 cm and reaches the level of the navel approximately. Many pregnant women experience discomfort and tightness in their sides as a result of uterine growth.

Other changes that take place in the pregnant woman are listed below:

  • Breast enlargement, as they prepare for breastfeeding.
  • Changes in the skin, becoming darker and spots may appear. This is due to hormonal fluctuations.
  • Appearance of varicose veins and stretch marks.

The heart rate during this week and throughout the pregnancy may increase and be accelerated. For this reason, some pregnant women have palpitations at this stage.

Most common symptoms in the 23rd week of pregnancy

Every pregnancy is different and, therefore, some women will experience discomfort and others will not. In any case, some of the most common discomforts among pregnant women at 23 weeks of gestation are the following:

  • Period-like pain, i.e., lower abdominal twinges caused by muscle distension of the uterus.
  • Leg cramps: this symptom is quite common throughout pregnancy, including week 23, due to weight gain and pressure on the nerves and muscles.
  • Back pain caused by weight gain and change in the center of gravity.
  • Burning or gas when the abdominal organs are compressed by the growth of the uterus.
  • Fatigue or tiredness.
  • Sensitivity and/or bleeding of the gums.

Apart from these symptoms, the woman may also have interrupted sleep or difficulty sleeping in the 23rd week of pregnancy.

If you want to know more information about gestational discomfort, we recommend you visit this article: What are the most common aches and pains during pregnancy?

Tips for the 23rd week of gestation

Once the 23rd week of pregnancy has been reached, it is normal if the woman has gained about 5-7 kilos since the beginning of pregnancy. However, it is best to consult your doctor in case a diet is necessary. Eating a balanced and healthy diet during pregnancy is essential, since it is necessary to provide the baby with the necessary nutrients for its proper development.

In addition to following a proper diet, other recommendations for the 23rd week of pregnancy are:

Staying active
low impact exercise during pregnancy helps to improve blood circulation and alleviate certain discomforts. For this reason, it is advisable for pregnant women to take daily walks, swim, do yoga, etc.
Managing stress
relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation, for example, can be performed.
Careful sleeping posture
to keep the blood circulation flowing as well as possible, the woman should try to rest lying on your left side, never on her back.
Use of creams and oils in the abdominal area
allow to alleviate itchy tummy and prevent the appearance of stretch marks.

It is also advisable to drink plenty of fluids to avoid possible urinary tract infections, as well as to wear comfortable shoes, avoid surfaces that may cause slipping and avoid lifting weights, among other things.

FAQs from users

What are the medical tests in the 23rd week of pregnancy?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

There is no specific test at this week of gestation. The specialist may decide to do an ultrasound scan to assess the length of the cervix, as it would inform about the likelihood of preterm labour. However, this will only be done if there is a suspected risk of prematurity.

I've heard about the 4D ultrasound scan. Can you do it at 6 months?

By Victoria Moliner BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes. As a matter of fact, month 6 is a good moment for women to undergo this test. As explained above, the baby has a more human-like physical appearance by this time

Can a 23-week premature baby survive?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

It is possible. However, the earlier in the pregnancy the baby is born, the more immature it will be. Therefore, the more premature the baby is, the less likely it is to survive.

The percentage of babies who have been able to survive despite being born at 22-23 weeks of gestation is quite low, but not zero.

Suggested for you

If you want to know what is going to happen in the next week of pregnancy, we recommend you to visit this link: What is week 24 of pregnancy like? What changes occur?

If, on the contrary, you prefer to get ahead and know the changes that will happen in your body and in the baby next month, then you can read this article: Seven months of pregnancy: symptoms and development of the baby.

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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FAQs from users: 'What are the medical tests in the 23rd week of pregnancy?', 'I've heard about the 4D ultrasound scan. Can you do it at 6 months?' and 'Can a 23-week premature baby survive?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
 Victoria Moliner
Victoria Moliner
BSc, MSc
Degree in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Presently, she works as a Research Biologist. More information about Victoria Moliner
Adapted into english by:

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