You hit yet another big milestone at 24 weeks of pregnancy; your fetus becomes a "baby"! From 24 weeks gestation, unborn babies are officially recognized as existing. It may seem unfair that your baby has had to wait this long for the honor, but it's a very special time. As difficult as it is to think about, if the worst were to happen now, your baby would be legally treated in the same way as a child that had been carried to term.

As another week goes by, your baby's chance of survival outside of the womb continues to increase. The rates vary between study, but are anywhere 25% and 55%. As your baby puts on more weight, and as the lungs continue to mature, the greater the chance of survival, with assistance of course.

Baby: What's Happening?

Your baby may have been through another growth spurt, and is now estimated to weigh up to 1.5 lbs and measure 8.5 inches from head to bottom. Physically, the way your baby is now is much the same as how your baby will be at birth. If you opt for a 3D scan, you'll be able to see all those tiny facial features that you'll recognize at the birth.

Your baby's skin is beginning to change about now. With the development of the blood vessels in the lungs and elsewhere in the body, the skin is now has a reddish/pinkish tint to it. This is the first step in the skin becoming opaque and much more like regular skin. Do you know what else makes your baby look more human? Nipples! The nipples form around now, on both boys and girls, although boys nipples are really just so they don't feel left out!

From 24 weeks onwards, a certain hormone present in the cord blood, Adiponectin, begins to increase, and levels are expected to be 20 times as much as they are now when your due date approaches. This hormone has many purposes, including anti inflammatory properties, but it's main function is to regulate your baby's growth. From now on, you can expect your baby to be putting on about half a pound each week in weight on average.

You: What's Happening?

With your uterus now measuring roughly 24 cm, or just under 9.5 inches, and with it now creeping even higher above your tummy button, you may notice a very distinct symptom of pregnancy; your belly button popping! Not all women experience this, but those that do report mixed responses. While some embrace this new change in their body, others are quite self conscious about it. There's no need to be, it's normal and is just a sign that your baby's getting a little cramped.

Following your baby's latest growth spurt, you might be finding that any stretch marks you've developed are starting to feel a bit itchy. Stretch marks usually don't cause any pain or discomfort, but when they're new, or newly aggravated by sudden growth, the skin can become quite vulnerable and itchy. It's a normal symptom of pregnancy, but if it does get painful, or if it's very red and inflamed, give your Doctor a call, there may be some topical creams that could help.

As you approach your third trimester, you might be starting to see a rise in all manner of aches, pains, throbs and, dare I say it, leakages! Back pain, groin pain, hip pain, and increased, watery discharge is usual at this point. There's very little you can do, expect rest often and wear a panty liner to protect your good pants!

Handy Hints

If you still haven't told your employer that you're pregnant, they've probably been able to guess by now, but you really should "make it official". The rules differ depending on where you're from, but in some countries expectant mothers are required by law to inform their employers before 25 weeks of pregnancy, especially if they wish to be eligible for any maternity leave or allowances.

With just 3 months left to go, it's a good time to be requesting a copy of your company's maternity policy and seeing what they offer in terms of leave and maternity pay. You'll want to think about whether you plan to work right up until the birth, or whether you want to take a couple of weeks off beforehand. This is very useful for those who have active jobs and are finding the physical strain harder and harder to cope with, but with your "baby brain" working overtime, it can be emotionally draining, too.

If your workplace does offer a form of maternity pay, be sure to check out what their guidelines are regarding returning to work. Some companies may require the money to be repaid if the mother chooses not to return, which could be a real stinger if you've not factored it in. Babies aren't cheap!