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.
‘Carrot juice and healing earth capsules can alleviate symptoms.’ Dorothee Kutz, midwife
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 author:
Juliane Jacke-Gerlitz is a registered nurse. She has been working in the field of mother and breastfeeding counselling for more than ten years. Currently she is working as a medical writer and psychological consultant. Juliane Jacke-Gerlitz has been married for 22 years, is a mother of eight children and lives with her family in Halle.
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