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    With bated breath: preparing to breathe.

    A developing fetus in the twenty-third week

    Your baby’s development

    Breathing practice starts now.
    Much of your baby’s development during week 23 is preparing for her first real breath once she is born. Although your baby is getting all of the oxygen she needs from your placenta, her lungs develop rapidly this week in preparation for birth.

    During this practice period, your baby develops her diaphragm muscles with breath-like movements that move amniotic fluid in and out of her lungs.

    This week’s highlights also include:

    • Your baby weighs slightly more than a pound now, and she’s the length of an ear of corn.
    • Her lungs are producing a substance called surfactant that allows the lungs to inflate and deflate without collapsing or sticking together.
    • Your baby actually looks like a baby. Though her body fat is still filling out her wrinkly skin.
    A woman using a machine to weight herself

    Your nutrition and health

    Gaining ground – and weight.
    No doubt your body has seen many changes through week 23. Like many pregnant women, you may find yourself wondering, what’s “normal” weight gain?

    Pregnancy typically involves weight gain. The extra weight provides nourishment for your growing baby. It’s also stored to help with breastfeeding after your baby is born.

    The Institute of Medicine 2009 guidelines note that women of normal pre-pregnancy weight gain an average of a pound a week by the 23rd week of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about where you fall on the weight spectrum.

    How can that tiny baby weigh so much?

    Check out these estimate weights published in the fifth edition of Your Pregnancy and Childbirth by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Keep in mind that pregnancy weight gain is different for every woman and baby.

    Baby 6-½ to 9 pounds
    Placenta 1-½ pounds
    Amniotic fluid 2 pounds
    Uterus 2 pounds
    Heavier breasts 2 to 3 pounds
    Additional blood volume 3 to 4 pounds
    Increased fluids 3 to 4 pounds
    Fat storage 6 to 8 pounds
    A pregnant woman in a pose

    Things to think about now

    Feeling off balance?
    If you’re feeling like your center of balance is off at 23 weeks and beyond, you are not alone. The hormones that are loosening joints and ligaments can make it difficult to be graceful. Feeling clumsy as your baby grows is normal.

    Keep the following in mind:

    • Take extra care and do even the simplest activities more slowly.
    • If you do fall and become concerned, alert your doctor. Just remember that your baby is well protected within your uterus and is inside a protective cushion of amniotic fluid.
    Two smiling women in bright workout clothes walking outside

    What happens next week

    Your baby starts to develop a sense of balance.
    Which way is up? Your baby probably knows. Now that his inner ear, which controls balance, has finished developing.