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2nd trimester: Week 23

Your Baby

Your baby continues to put on weight, bringing him up to about a pound this week, although with his red, wrinkly, and loose skin he's far from the bonny baby he'll become. Crown to rump, he's between 11 and 12 inches long, and he makes the most of his space inside the womb, kicking back, stretching his arms, and trailing his hands along the umbilical cord. He can hear now and is especially sensitive to loud noises, which can startle him, making his heart thump and his arms flail. He much prefers soothing music or the faint sound of your voice.

Your Body

Your uterus inches up above your belly button, and your shape gets more rounded. As a result, if you had an "innie" belly button, it's likely now an "outie." You may have felt your appetite kick in, and for good reason: Your body needs a generous supply of nutrients, especially protein and fat, for your baby's organ development and overall health and strength.

Your Pregnant Body

Do's and Don'ts

Don't get overwhelmed by all the things you need to do before the baby gets here. Close your eyes, imagine your baby snuggled safely in your womb, and take deep breaths. Experts say visualization helps you reduce stress when life gets too hectic.

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Health

Tempted to duck into a center that specializes in three-dimensional ultrasound? If the procedure hasn't been ordered by your doctor, think again. You likely had your first ultrasound between week 15 and week 20. Before signing up for a second procedure, check with your health practitioner to find out how prolonged or repeated exposure to ultrasound waves affects the fetus.

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Mom to Mom

"The midwives at my clinic fostered a sense of community that was really wonderful--I'd go early to my appointments just to talk with the other women to share advice and experiences. They also sponsored new-mother classes so that each of us had a built-in network of support if we wanted it."--Miliann Kang, New York, NY

Shopping

If you're short on space and want to get the most bang for your buck, look for nursery furniture that does double duty. Some choices: a crib that converts to a toddler bed or a changing table that can later be used as a dresser.

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Exercise

Most experts agree that exercise helps you weather the aches and pains of pregnancy and may even prevent serious illnesses such as gestational diabetes. Still, long and hard workouts can be too much of a good thing. Limit your regimen to no more than 30 minutes a day, which is what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends for most women. (The guidelines are a little different if you're an athlete.)

Relationships

Every woman feels different about how often she wants her partner to come along on appointments to the doctor or midwife, but health care providers suggest couples attend at least a few together. "I love it when a father comes along," says Kathryn Kohler, M.D., an ob-gyn in Laramie, WY. "It makes the pregnancy more real for him and gives him an understanding of what his mate is going through."

Twins

There's no way to prevent invasive questions about pregnancy--especially if you're expecting more than one baby. Nonetheless, if someone you don't know well brings up fertility drugs with you, resist writing her off as merely rude. Instead, turn it around and ask why she wants to know. She may be considering such treatments herself, but doesn't quite know how to approach the subject.