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Pregnancy weeks:

Week 24 of pregnancy: Your baby is now as long as your forearm

Size of your baby in week 24

By week 24, your baby is 30-31 cm in size, so about as big as a cucumber. They weigh between 600 and 700 grams, so they’re getting closer to weighing a full kilogram.

Despite this, your baby still has plenty of space to move around to their heart’s content. You’ll be able to feel their movements day and night all around your belly.

All this activity plays a key role in helping them learn typical human movements and in developing their muscles. They’ll also be developing more and more fatty tissue in order to put on the weight they’ll need before birth.

Some women get bruises on their belly as a result of their baby kicking – even though these won’t be particularly obvious just yet, you’ll feel them in your kidneys, bladder and stomach. It’s the clearest indication yet that your baby is getting bigger.

Your baby’s development

Your baby is very comfortable inside your belly. By week 24, their sensory systems are “ready to receive”, and they will respond more and more to the sounds they hear in the womb. In fact, there are now certain sounds they get obsessed with and respond to particularly strongly: your voice, for instance, is a key stimulus and will be their point of reference in their early years. Some years ago, scientists discovered that a newborn’s first screams are very similar to their mum’s voice, which makes clear how intense the sense of contact is between the child and the first person they ever know.

This is part of how they form their bond with their mother, the person who will give them the food and affection they need from day one outside the womb.

However, it’s not just their hearing that’s coming on fast: their sense of taste, which can already distinguish between the sour, bitter and salty substances in the amniotic fluid, can now identify sweet substances too. This is the start of a liking for sweet food that will be very noticeable in your baby’s early years. It means that we’re all born with an innate preference for sweet food, something that has been an advantage since prehistoric times – sweet means non-poisonous and high-energy, and therefore important for human survival. Furthermore, your baby’s first food, your breast milk, also tastes sweet. Newborns need the sugar in the milk (lactose) to regulate their body temperature using the insulin produced by their pancreas.

What it’s like for the mum-to-be in week 24

You’ll be able to sense that your baby is growing fast. They’ll be demanding your attention in your growing belly, so take time to pamper yourself and spoil your senses.  It’s also a good idea to get your partner involved as you prepare for your family to expand, and there are lots of ways you can enjoy this special time together to the full.

Common signs and symptoms

At this stage of pregnancy, the symptoms you may experience (which are temporary and affect the digestive tract) are a result of your growing womb.

Nausea and heartburn

The most common symptoms in week 24 are heartburn and nausea. You’re likely to feel nauseous if you eat too much heavy food at once, as your stomach is now smaller and can only fully digest smaller amounts of food. So it’s a good idea to adjust your meals so that you eat less meat and more vegetables.

You can prevent heartburn (caused by acid reflux from your stomach to your throat) by sitting up straight while eating and by drinking a glass of water with every course to make the stomach acid less aggressive.

Midwife’s advice

‘Carrot juice and healing earth capsules can alleviate symptoms.’ Dorothee Kutz, midwife

Top tips

  • When you feel like eating meat, try to eat fish instead. Fish is easier to digest and supplies important omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for your baby’s brain development.
  • Wear comfy shoes that you can easily slip on and off – it’ll gradually become harder to bend down.
  • Get your partner involved, e.g. by asking him to give you a massage and rub cream into your belly.
  • Start thinking about decorating and furnishing your baby’s room – you won’t need much at first, probably just a cot to go next to your bed and a table or surface for changing nappies.
  • Make sure you always have a drink you like with you when you’re out and about.

Questions you may want to ask your doctor or midwife

Help with your bowel movements

If you suffer from constipation and the conventional remedies (such as drinking plenty of fluids and exercising) don’t work, ask your doctor for suitable ways to help your digestive system. During pregnancy, it’s extremely important to get reliable, expert advice on the methods or products which are suitable and those which should be avoided.

Preparing for birth using TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

There are many midwives who have experience in holistic treatments for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, and in many cases they will be trained in acupuncture. Acupuncture, a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), takes its name from the Latin words “acus”, meaning needle, and “pungere”, meaning pricking. 

Flowing through our bodies are channels known as meridians, which each have location points. These are the acupuncture points, and they can be stimulated by inserting thin acupuncture needles to different depths at different points. The aim of acupuncture is to restore your body’s energy flow in order to alleviate symptoms or to have a preventive or strengthening effect.

However, acupuncture is about more than just treating persistent illnesses or symptoms during pregnancy, such as water retention: it’s also used from around week 37 of pregnancy to help the mum-to-be prepare for the birth. It has an invigorating effect and, among other things, it makes the cervix softer, which helps it to dilate. This makes labour easier, and in turn speeds up the process of giving birth.

Ask your midwife about making an acupuncture appointment to help you prepare for the birth. She will explain how it works, when the right time for it is and how much it can cost – and you can ask your health insurance provider (if you have one) whether they will pay for some or all of this preventive treatment.

Information about the reviewer:

Marley Hall is a UK-registered, award-winning midwife, educator and author from Surrey. Qualified in 2009, Marley now works as a private independent midwife and is one of the founding members of NowBaby Live. She is a mother of 5 and is passionate about ensuring women and their partners are given informed choices. Find out more here.