Women's  Healthcare Topics is a website about pregnancy and your newborn baby.

Pregnancy: Week 26

Mom's Pregnancy Changes and Symptoms

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.
Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 26th week of pregnancy.

You've probably had family and friends guess if you are having a boy or girl, simply by looking at how you're "carrying" your baby.

According to the old wives' tale, if you are "carrying high" (your "bump" is higher on your abdomen, right underneath your breasts), you are pregnant with a girl.

If you're "carrying low" (the protruding part of your belly is lower and closer to your hips), you're going to have a boy.

If you believe this legend, you have a 50 percent chance of guessing correctly! You have the same probability of guessing correctly by flipping a coin.

Since you are rather big by this point in your pregnancy, this is a fun game to play, especially if you are keeping your baby's gender a secret until you deliver. (It's still fun to make other people guess whether you're having a boy or girl, even if you already know).

Remember that the shape and size of your "bump" is determined by your muscle tone, your uterine tone, and how your baby is positioned. The main accurate way to determine your baby's gender is with an ultrasound.

Rib Pain During Pregnancy
As your uterus expands and your baby rapidly packs on those layers of fat, you may start to notice some rib pain. Your expanding uterus pushes your rib cage outward. As a result, you may notice rib pain or discomfort, especially if you are more petite, or if you're carrying twins or multiples.

Rib pain during pregnancy tends to be worse if you have a very active baby that kicks a lot, or if your baby's in the breech position (with his or her head pushing against your rib cage and diaphragm).

Although there is not much you can do about rib pain, you may want to move around, instead of sitting down, until you find a position that is most comfortable for you.

Headaches in the Second Trimester
In addition to rib discomfort and pain, another second trimester pregnancy symptom that you may experience is headaches. Though you may have experienced headaches in your first trimester, due to hormonal changes and increases in your blood volume and circulation, headaches at the end of your second trimester tend to be caused by muscle aches from carrying all that extra weight around and from psychological stress.

In rare cases, your headaches may be caused by preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication.

To relieve your headaches, you may want to:

  • Use warm or cold compresses.

  • Reduce your stress level. Yoga and relaxation exercises may help.

  • Stay away from headache triggers, such as certain foods.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about taking Tylenol (which is safe to use during pregnancy) or another type of medication. Tylenol is the first line medical treatment of tension-type headaches during pregnancy. Short term use of combination drugs containing Tylenol and Codeine can also be used for severe headaches.

Weight Gain

You will only get larger as your pregnancy progresses. Your pregnancy weight gain at 26 weeks pregnant is already at least 18 or 19 pounds for a normal-sized woman. Your weight may fluctuate from day to day due to water retention so try not to weigh yourself every day.


Pregnancy Health Section

Video: Week 26
Video: Your Pregnancy Week 26

Headaches and Preeclampsia

In most cases, headaches are a very common pregnancy symptom. However, sometimes they do signify a more serious problem, such as preeclampsia - a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

Preeclampsia affects at least 5 or 8 percent of all pregnancies, and it occurs in the second and third trimesters. A majority of cases start around 36 or 37 weeks, though in 10 percent of cases, it is diagnosed before 34 weeks.

How Preeclampsia Affects You and Baby
This complication can range from mild to severe. In the most severe cases, this condition can cause damage to your organs (such as your liver, kidneys, and brain); and it can affect the blood flow to your baby, leading to poor fetal growth, low levels of amniotic fluid in your uterus, and placental abruption (your placenta separates from the wall of your uterus before your baby is ready to be born).

According to the preeclampsia foundation, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are the number one cause of maternal and infant illness and death around the world.

Symptoms of Preclampsia
The tricky thing about preeclampsia is that many of its signs and symptoms mimic normal changes in pregnancy. Symptoms of this serious pregnancy complication include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Swelling or edema, especially on your ankles and face.

  • Protein in your uterine

  • A sudden weight gain

  • Headaches characterized by a dull, throbbing headache that is similar to a migraine headache that won't go away.

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Vision changes, including temporary loss of vision, auras, light sensitivity, blurry visions or spots.

  • Racing pulse, heightened sense of anxiety, difficulty catching your breath, mental confusion.

  • Stomach pain (usually under the right side ribs) and/or right shoulder pain.

  • Hyperreflexia (overactive or over responsive reflexes)

Preeclampsia Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no "cure" for preeclampsia, only delivery of the baby and placenta. During pregnancy week 26, your baby has 11 more weeks until he or she is full-term, so if you have mild preeclampsia, your doctor may be able to place you on bed rest and prescribe you high blood pressure medications. (The longer your baby is able to stay in utero, the better his or her chances of survival).

When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor immediately if you start to experience any of these symptoms. If you have a mild case, your doctor or healthcare provider will want to monitor you very closely to make sure that your blood pressure stays in control and won't cause any harm to your health or your baby's.

Baby Section

Growth and Development of Baby

By 26 weeks pregnant, your baby is preparing for his or her grand entrance into the world. Your baby is almost 14 total inches long and may weigh 1.7 pounds!

Your baby's face is getting rounder and fatter, as your baby’s fat reserves are giving his or her face a more rounded appearance.

Your little Einstein's brain continues to mature this week, and it will continue to do so throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

Though all the nerve cells are now located on the surface on your little one's brain, they do not yet have neural connections with each other. As your pregnancy progresses, these nerve cells will eventually make multiple connections with one another. Your baby's brain is still very smooth looking. It does not yet have that wrinkled appearance.

By now your baby can make coordinated hand and feet movements. Your baby frequently brings his or her hands and feet to his or her mouth.

There is still ample room in your uterus for your baby to move about. Since your baby is still flexible at this point, it's quite easy for your little one to be in all sorts of positions, including performing full somersaults.

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