5 Months Pregnant: Symptoms and Foetal Development

Months Pregnant

Although every pregnancy is different, there’s a good chance your baby bump is getting quite visible at five months pregnant, so if you haven’t gone public with the happy news just yet, you might not be able to keep it under wraps for much longer anyway! This month, you might experience some new symptoms associated with a growing bump. Read on to learn more about what’s in store for you and your little one when you’re five months pregnant.

Symptoms at 5 Months Pregnant

With any luck, you’re still enjoying the energy boost and ‘pregnancy glow’ that many mums-to-be enjoy in the second trimester. However, there are plenty of less enjoyable symptoms that you may now be experiencing at five months pregnant. These can include:

  • Swollen feet. If your shoes are pinching a little at five months pregnant, you may be suffering from a symptom that affects many mums-to-be: swollen ankles and feet. Your growing uterus can put pressure on blood vessels, causing a build-up of fluid in your legs, ankles and feet. Fluid accumulates throughout the day, so avoid standing for long periods. Other ways of helping ease this symptom include putting your feet up at frequent intervals and taking regular walks or doing foot exercises. It’s also important to drink plenty of water, which helps flush excess fluid out of your system. Gradual swelling of the extremities is usually harmless, but if you experience any sudden swelling of the face, hands or feet, call your doctor or midwife straight away. This could be a sign of a rare, but serious blood pressure condition called pre-eclampsia.

  • Backache. The hormones coursing around your body at five months pregnant are softening up your ligaments, allowing them to stretch in preparation for labour and to accommodate your growing uterus. This can stress the joints of your lower back and pelvis, so it’s no wonder lower back pain is such a common symptom of pregnancy. The best way to avoid back pain is to get into good posture habits. These include things like bending at the knees when you pick things up, avoiding twisting the spine when turning, and making sure your back is properly supported when lying or sitting for long periods. Getting enough rest is also important, and a massage or warm bath can also help soothe those aching muscles. If you need painkillers for your back pain, discuss your options with your doctor first.

  • Feeling faint. Giddy spells are a common symptom of the hormonal changes you may experience at five months pregnant or any other time during the weeks and months ahead. You’re most likely to experience a feeling of faintness when you stand up or get out of the bath too quickly, but it can happen in almost any situation. To avoid dizziness, try getting up slowly. If you do feel faint, sit down quickly and wait for it to pass. If it persists, lie on your side. Experts advise not lying or sleeping on your back when pregnant, especially in the later weeks, as it may affect the flow of blood to your foetus.

  • Nasal congestion. If you feel like you’ve constantly got a blocked or runny nose at five months pregnant, it’s probably just swelling in the nasal tissues and veins – a common symptom caused by pregnancy hormones. Nasal sprays and decongestants can sometimes make the problem worse, and not all are safe to take while pregnant, so always ask your doctor or midwife about treatment options if your blocked nose is bothering you.

  • ‘Baby brain’. If you keep losing your house keys or missing appointments, you can always put it down to ‘baby brain’, although experts are divided on whether becoming more absent-minded when you’re pregnant is really a thing. Whether you believe in it or not, if you seem to be forgetting stuff lately, maybe buy a pack of sticky notes for leaving reminders on the fridge door, just to be on the safe side.

  • Difficulty sleeping. Although the frequent night-time visits to the loo may have decreased after the end of the first trimester, at around five months pregnant you may soon find another thing getting between you and a good night’s sleep: your growing bump. If your belly starts making it hard to find a comfortable position to lie in, try supporting it with pillows, and putting another pillow between your knees for extra support. The safest position for sleeping when you’re pregnant is on your side. Don’t be alarmed if you wake up on your back though – research shows that it’s the position you’re in when you drop off that matters, as this is how you’ll stay for most of the night. Read more about how to get a better night’s sleep while pregnant.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions. If you start to feel the occasional tightening around your belly at around five months pregnant or after, there’s no need to rush to rush to the hospital just yet. Painless contractions that don’t come at regular intervals, and last around 20 to 30 seconds are probably Braxton Hicks, or ‘practice’ contractions. These are your body’s way of getting in practice for the real thing. It’s more common to feel them in the later stages of pregnancy, but some mums-to-be experience them earlier too, especially during second or subsequent pregnancies. Call you midwife or doctor immediately if you get painful or regular contractions, or any other symptoms of premature labour such as period-like pains, a mucus discharge, or trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina.

Your Baby’s Development at 5 Months

You may already have started to feel your little moving at around five months pregnant. As those flutters and kicks get progressively stronger, you may soon notice that there are patterns of more intensive activity inside your belly, followed by quieter periods. In fact, your foetus starts to develop cycles of sleeping and wakefulness around now, so occasional brief lulls in movement at around five months pregnant could mean it’s naptime inside your bump. Keep in mind that your little one won’t necessarily keep the same hours as you, so don’t be surprised if he or she is wide awake and active just when you’re trying to get some shuteye. As your little one’s movements become more noticeable, it’s a good idea to get familiar with his or her daily routine, so you can let your midwife or doctor know immediately if you sense a noticeable reduction or change in the pattern of movement. Kick counting apps or charts can help you get a rough idea, but all pregnancies are different, so there’s no set number of movements you need to detect within a certain time period – being aware of the overall level of activity is what’s important.

How Big Is Your Baby When You’re 5 Months Pregnant?

At the start of this month, your foetus is about the size of a mango, and measures around 15 centimetres from crown to rump, and weighs about 240 grams. Toward the end of this month, 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. You’ve both come a long way in five months!

What Does a Foetus Look Like at 5 Months?

Check out these illustrations for a glimpse at what your foetus might look like when you’re five months pregnant:

Ultrasound Scan at 5 Months Pregnant

Most mums-to-be have their second ultrasound at five months pregnant, somewhere between 18 to 21 weeks. Keep in mind, it’s an optional scan. (Some mums-to-be have additional ultrasounds during pregnancy if it’s needed to check for a specific condition or as part of a medical test.) At the standard 20-week scan, the sonographer:

  • Estimates your foetus’s gestational age

  • Estimates your foetus’s weight

  • Checks that your foetus is developing normally, including that your foetus’s bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen

  • Looks for certain conditions such as open spina bifida and cleft lip

  • Checks your foetus’s position, movement and heart rate

  • Checks for conditions like placenta praevia (which is a rare condition in which the placenta lies low in the uterus and partially or completely covers the cervix) or placenta accreta (a very rare condition where the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall and can’t easily separate away after your baby is born).

  • Checks the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your foetus in the uterus

  • Checks whether you are carrying multiples (if so, a sonographer can also let you know about the type of twin pregnancy)

  • Although an ultrasound exam is a medical tool, the sonographer may be able to tell you whether you’re having a boy or girl, if this is something you’d like to find out. Keep in mind, some hospitals have a policy of not telling the foetus’s gender, so ask the sonographer beforehand if this is something you would like to find out.

If you would like a photo of your ultrasound scan as a keepsake, ask check beforehand. If the hospital offers this service there may be an additional charge.

Changes to Your Body at 5 Months Pregnant

As your bump starts to grow more and more visible at around five months pregnant, you may experience another common symptom of pregnancy: stretch marks. These take the form of thin red, purple, pink or brown streaks (depending on your own skin colour), which are most likely to appear on or around your belly, although you may also notice them on your breasts or thighs. They might seem quite vivid now, but after your baby is born they usually fade away to a less visible silver colour, although they rarely disappear completely. There isn’t always much you can do to prevent stretch marks, but drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and applying a non-scented moisturiser to keep your skin supple may help. Some treatments, such as certain creams, laser treatments and microdermabrasion – the removal of a very thin layer of skin – claim to help make stretch marks less noticeable, but no treatment will remove or prevent them completely. Although not everyone gets stretch marks, if you do, later you might come to think of them as a keepsake of the time that your little one spent growing and developing in the safety and comfort of your belly – a badge of honour to be worn with pride!

How Far Along Are You at 5 Months Pregnant?

It’s hard to say precisely how many weeks of pregnancy translates into being five months pregnant, because most months don’t have exactly four weeks in them and the 40 weeks of pregnancy can be split in different ways. Roughly speaking, however, at five months pregnant you are around 19 to 23 weeks pregnant.

FAQs at a Glance

At around five months pregnant your foetus is practicing the movements necessary for breathing, although the lungs don’t actually work yet. Your little one will continue to get all oxygen and nutrients from the placenta until he or she is born.
Your little one also starts to grow a covering of soft, fine hair called lanugo around this time. Although the reasons for this are still not fully understood, this coating is thought to help regulate your foetus’s temperature.
This doesn’t mean that you’re going to give birth to a furry baby though: Most of the lanugo will usually wear off inside your uterus before your baby is born.

Checklist for When You’re 5 Months Pregnant

  • If hypnobirthing is something you might like to try, find and book a spot in a hypnobirthing class.

  • Ask your doctor whether you have any of the risk factors for gestational diabetes and whether a glucose screening test is right for you.

  • Check with your doctor about whether you have any of the risk factors for the high blood pressure disorder called pre-eclampsia and find out what steps you can take to reduce the risks associated with this condition.

  • Schedule a dentist check-up, if you haven’t had one since the start of your pregnancy. You may be eligible for free dental care under the NHS.

  • Ask your doctor or midwife about what vaccinations you should have while pregnant. Whooping cough and flu jabs are typically recommended for all mums-to-be, to protect you and your little one from serious illness.

  • Start shopping around for maternity clothes and a comfortable supportive bra. High street chains offer plenty of choices too, but a specialist shop may be able to give you more personalised advice on how best to adapt your wardrobe to your changing body shape.

  • If you now know whether you’re having a boy or girl, you may wish to hold a gender reveal party to share your special news with loved ones. Check out these articles on how you can make the gender reveal moment fun and memorable:

  • Now could be a great time for one last getaway, or ‘babymoon’, before you get far enough along in your pregnancy to make travelling more difficult. Read our advice on travelling while you’re pregnant.

  • You might find it useful to start writing a birth plan, setting out all your preferences for labour and delivery. This not only helps focus your own mind on the decisions you could be having to make soon, it’s also a great way of making sure that your midwife and birth partner or doula are on the same page as you when it comes to aspects like pain relief and birthing techniques.

  • If you’re feeling energetic, why not get busy decorating the nursery? Our nursery theme ideas will help get your creative juices flowing.

  • Antenatal classes are a great for both you (and often your birth partner too, if you have one) to learn about and prepare for labour, delivery, and what comes after. They’re free if provided via the NHS. Ask your midwife what’s available locally. Demand is often high, so it’s a good idea to book early to get a place on your chosen course.

  • Sign up for even more weekly pregnancy tips here:

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.

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