Your baby is the size of an eggplant

23 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby’s Development

Your little one is looking more and more like the newborn you’ll be cradling in your arms in the not-so-distant future, as the limbs are now in proportion to the rest of the body.

Those arms and legs are also getting really good at moving about, so if you haven’t felt any of your foetus’s acrobatics yet, it shouldn’t be long now!

If feeling those movements inside your bump already a regular thing for you at 23 weeks pregnant, just wait until you start seeing your belly move. This will be a thrilling sight for you, whether it starts to happen now or a little later in your pregnancy.

You might even like to wow your partner or a close friend or family member with the spectacle of an elbow or knee pushing up against the side of your tummy. Not only that: bump-watching can be a great way to bond with your little one, even at this early stage.

Your foetus is now taking little naps, both during the day and at night. These usually last between 20 and 40 minutes, although up to 90 minutes is sometimes possible. Your little one doesn’t move while sleeping, so as the movements get stronger you might start to recognise whether it’s naptime or playtime inside your belly at any given time.

Feeling your little one’s movements can be reassuring at 23 weeks pregnant but every pregnancy is different, and there is no specific ‘target’ that has to be met in terms of the number of movements per day.

All sorts of things can affect the movements you’re feeling, including the time of day. If you’re active yourself, you may be less likely to notice kicks and turns. The position of your foetus, or even the placenta, can also make it harder to feel certain movements.

It’s changes in the amount of movement that matter, so it makes sense to get familiar with how much your little one tends to move each day.

Foetal movement tracking charts and apps can help you get a feel for your little one’s movement patterns, but you should never rely on these to diagnose or ‘rule out’ a problem yourself. Instead, if you notice any reduction or change in your little one’s movements call your midwife or doctor immediately.

Don’t worry if it turns out to be a false alarm. Nobody will mind. Better safe than sorry is the best policy when it comes to your little one’s wellbeing.


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The Size of the Foetus at 23 Weeks Pregnant

Now that you’re 23 weeks pregnant, your foetus is about the size of an aubergine, measuring close to 28.9 centimetres from head to heel, and weighing in at around 500 grams.

To get an understanding of how your little one is developing inside your uterus, check out the illustration below:

23 weeks pregnant

Mum’s Body at 23 Weeks Pregnant

You might not have given too much thought to the fluid that surrounds your foetus in the amniotic sac, but it actually plays a very important role. This clear, straw-coloured liquid creates the perfect environment for your little one to grow.

The amniotic fluid helps keep your foetus at just the right temperature, and cushions him or her from any knocks and bumps. The amount of fluid in your amniotic sac will slowly increase until around 38 weeks, before decreasing gradually until you give birth.

Perhaps you’re wondering how many months pregnant you are at 23 weeks. Well, it’s tricky to give a precise answer because weeks don’t fit neatly into months, but at a rough estimate you’re probably just about six months pregnant.

23 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing at 23 weeks pregnant:

  • Shortness of breath. If you find yourself a little short of breath, it might not just be pregnancy weight gain that is responsible. Your growing foetus may be getting big enough to start pushing up against your lungs, making it a little harder to breathe. Like some of the other symptoms of pregnancy, such as swollen feet or backache, the best thing you can do to help is take the weight off your feet and get some rest. Contact your doctor if you’re feeling more than just a little short of breath but instead actually finding it hard to breathe.

  • Rib pain. One of the many changes taking place in your body at around 23 weeks pregnant is that your ribcage is expanding outwards to make room for your growing foetus. This can cause pains in your ribs. If your ribs are hurting, an easy stretching exercise might help: lift the arm on the side that’s hurting over your head; then lean sideways in the opposite direction to the side that hurts until you feel the muscles gently stretching.

  • Backache. As your belly grows in size and you gain weight, it’s normal to feel some aches and pains, especially in your back. During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin softens up your ligaments, helping your joints to expand to make room for your growing uterus. As the ligaments in your body soften, your back can feel strained. At around 23 weeks pregnant, your centre of gravity also shifts forwards as your bump grows upwards and outwards. Leaning back to compensate for this can also cause backache. To help, keep your back straight, avoid twisting your spine, and bend your knees when picking things up. A massage or warm bath can also help ease the pain. If you have back pain that is severe or feels unusual, call your doctor or midwife as this can sometimes be a sign of premature labour.

  • Headaches. Although headaches are more common in the first trimester, you may still get this symptom at 23 weeks pregnant. Try to prevent or ease headaches by keeping hydrated, resting and getting enough sleep. Always ask your doctor or midwife before taking any pain killers. Call your doctor, midwife or maternity hospital straight away if your headache is severe, especially if you also have blurred vision, vomiting, sudden swelling in the face or extremities, or a pain just below your ribs. These could be symptoms of a rare, but serious condition called pre-eclampsia, which needs to be treated as soon possible.

23 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

  • It’s important to try to avoid food poisoning and to recognise the symptoms as soon as possible, as some forms of food poisoning can harm your foetus. Signs of food poisoning include diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, aching joints and chills. Follow this advice to cut your risk of food poisoning:

    • Wash all fruit and veg carefully before eating them. This includes ready-prepared salads.

    • Wash your hands and all kitchen utensils and work surfaces after cooking with raw meat.

    • Don’t eat food that has passed its ‘use by’ date.

    • Cook all raw meat thoroughly until all traces of pink meat and blood are gone.

    • Steer clear of unpasteurised milk and mould-ripened soft cheeses.

    • Give pâté and uncooked deli meats (like salami, prosciutto and chorizo) a wide berth.

    • If you like your eggs runny, make sure you buy eggs with the ‘Red Lion’ stamp. Otherwise, avoid raw or partially cooked eggs.

    • Read more about foods to avoid during pregnancy or ask your midwife for more information. If you’re not sure whether something’s okay to eat, always check first to be on the safe side.

  • Have you thought about how to decorate your baby nursery yet? Whether you’re planning a themed nursery design or just a simple colour scheme, take some inspiration from our baby nursery ideas.

  • They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so why not keep a record of this special time? Now is a great time to organise a maternity photoshoot, while you still have the energy. You might choose to hire a professional photographer or get a talented friend to help you out – either way, leafing through the album or photobook in the future is sure to bring back a flood of fond memories.

  • You might like to use a prenatal photoshoot as an opportunity to involve your partner. These very first ‘family’ pictures will be a great memento for you as well as your little one when he or she grows up. Alternatively, you might like to ask your parents and grandparents to take part in the photoshoot and capture ‘four’ generations of your family in the one frame. This will be a keepsake your whole family will cherish for decades to come.

  • Get to know the signs of premature labour, just in case! Premature labour is when labour starts before the end of week 37 of pregnancy. Signs of premature labour can include regular contractions or tightening of the stomach (as opposed to irregular, ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions), pains similar to menstrual cramps or a backache that feels unusual. Another clear warning sign is your waters breaking. Keep in mind, this isn’t always a gush of water like it is the movies; it’s sometimes just a trickle or intermittent spurt of fluid from your vagina. Another sign of labour is what’s called a ‘show’. This is when the mucus plug sealing the cervix comes free and discharges from the vagina. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your midwife or maternity unit straight away. You’ll be given some tests, and if you are in labour your midwife will discuss the available options with you.

  • Take some much deserved “me time” this week. Even though the second trimester is considered the “honeymoon” stage of pregnancy, that doesn’t mean that some of the physical symptoms, all the planning and the emotional adjustments don’t take their toll. What would help? A lunch with friends? Some time alone? A weekend away? A massage? Uninterrupted time with your partner? Whatever it is, try to make time for yourself to recharge your batteries.

23 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • Can you take painkillers for a headache?

  • Which medicines are safe for treating aches and pains during pregnancy, such as back pain?

  • Does noise affect your baby’s hearing development?

  • How can you tell if you’re doing pelvic floor exercises correctly?

  • What are the benefits of reading or playing music to your baby?

  • What is the heaviest amount you can safely pick up at this point in your pregnancy? What is the safest way to lift an object?

  • What’s the best way for you to keep your weight gain on track?

23 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

  • If you have any spare time this week, read this article on pregnancy warning signs you should not ignore. It's always wise to be prepared and know what to look out for.

  • Tell your employer about your pregnancy, if you haven’t already. If you don’t do this in writing at least 15 weeks before your due date – so around week 25, at the latest – you could lose entitlement to statutory maternity pay, if you’re otherwise entitled to it. Everyone’s situation is different, so ask your midwife where to find the best information about what you may be eligible for.

  • Read some of our tips on how to stay healthy when working while pregnant.

  • Sign up for even more weekly pregnancy tips:

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.