26 weeks 


Highlights this week

Maternity picture ideas

With your third trimester just around the corner, your baby bump may be looking especially photo-ready. Capture this special point in pregnancy with these maternity picture ideas.

3D ultrasound

A "keepsake ultrasound" from a private clinic can give you a magical view of your baby, but many experts recommend against them. Here are a few things worth considering before you book a 3D ultrasound.

Pregnancy nutrition

It's essential to get enough of key nutrients like calcium, iron, iodine, choline, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. Learn more about the pregnancy nutrients you need now.

Baby development at 26 weeks

Your baby's lungs

Your baby has started to inhale and exhale small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for lung development.

Responding to sounds

Your baby can hear your voice and may even respond to it with changes in their heartbeat, breathing, and movement. If a noise is particularly loud, your baby may startle – and you might feel your baby move. Ultrasounds have also caught changes in babies' facial expressions when they hear music.

Testicles dropping

If you're having a boy, his testicles have begun to descend into his scrotum – a trip that will take about two to three months.

baby now breathing small amounts of amniotic fluid
Your baby at 26 weeks
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Your baby is about the size of a scallion

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head to toe
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Pregnancy symptoms during week 26

Lower-back pain

If your lower back is aching lately, you can thank both your growing uterus and hormonal changes that loosen your joints and ligaments. Roughly 60 percent of pregnant women have lower-back pain, which can make it hard to sleep or perform daily tasks.

Staying active with low-impact cardio may give you some relief. Try walking or swimming, as well as stretching and strength training. Self-care practices that promote relaxation (such as prenatal massage, meditation, and prenatal yoga) can also help with tension and discomfort. Above all, listen to your body. If the way you're sitting, standing, or sleeping hurts, make adjustments.

Braxton Hicks

Sometimes called "practice" contractions, Braxton Hicks are irregular uterine contractions that happen before you're actually in labor. They're often described as feeling like menstrual cramps or like your stomach is tightening. They maybe become progressively more intense as you near the end of your pregnancy.

Generally, what differentiates Braxton Hicks contractions from true contractions is that they're irregular and taper off, instead of becoming stronger. They can be uncomfortable, but aren't often painful. Dehydration, exhaustion, and even sitting or lying in a certain position can trigger Braxton Hicks. They often stop after you drink some water, rest, or change positions.

However, sometimes Braxton Hicks contractions are hard to distinguish from early labor. If you have any of the signs of preterm labor, call your provider immediately.


In addition to your changing hormones, there are a variety of things that can cause a mild headache during pregnancy. Exhaustion, hunger, and dehydration are among the most common reasons for an aching head – though vision changes and allergies can also contribute.

Getting enough sleep, eating regularly, and staying hydrated can bring relief from pregnancy headaches. If that's not helping, check in with your doctor or midwife, who will likely give you the thumbs up to take acetaminophen to treat a headache.

Bad headaches during pregnancy could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious blood pressure disorder. This condition is life-threatening for both a mom and her baby if left untreated, so call your healthcare provider immediately if you're experiencing a severe or persistent headache.


Increased progesterone levels slow down your digestion during pregnancy, causing most expecting moms to experience constipation at some point. Lowered activity levels and your expanding uterus can also contribute to infrequent or hard bowel movements.

Constipation can be incredibly uncomfortable during pregnancy and can contribute to hemorrhoids, or swollen blood vessels around the rectum. Topical hemorrhoid treatment is typically safe for pregnant women, but check in with your provider before you try a new medication.

Prevention is the best bet for managing constipation and avoiding hemorrhoids. Stay hydrated by monitoring your water intake or setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink up. Eating a high-fiber diet (with plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains) and exercising regularly can relieve constipation. Taking magnesium or a non-laxative stool softener can help, too.

Stretch marks

As your baby grows, so will your belly. Your skin is stretching fast to keep up – and you may have started to notice stretch marks on your stomach, breasts, and thighs.

Stretch marks vary from person to person, and may be related to genetics. There isn't a lot that you can do to prevent stretch marks, so be wary of expensive creams that promise to banish them. One thing that can help is avoiding rapid or excessive weight gain. (Gaining more than the recommended amount of pregnancy weight, and gaining weight quickly, ups your chance of getting stretch marks.)

Don't see your symptom?

Wondering about a symptom you have? Find it on our pregnancy symptoms page.

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baby in womb at 26 weeks
Your body at 26 weeks
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Pregnancy checklist at 26 weeks

Plan a babymoon

It's the perfect time to plan a babymoon, or one last trip before your baby arrives. Connecting with your partner now is a great way to solidify your relationship. You'll also make memories you can look back on with a smile when you're both sleep-deprived and stressed from taking care of your new baby.

When it comes to picking a location, keep in mind that a complicated pregnancy could require you to stay closer to home. Your doctor or midwife may recommend a staycation or day trip rather than a far-away destination.

Consider more classes

In addition to a birth class, you may want to take classes on baby care, breastfeeding, and infant CPR. Many hospitals offer these, and you can also ask your provider for a recommendation. There are online options, too, like BabyCenter CoursesOpens a new window. In BabyCenter's All-in-One Baby Safety Course with CPROpens a new window, a top pediatric ER doctor will teach you what to do if your baby starts choking or stops breathing.

Manage gestational diabetes

If you have gestational diabetes, the diagnosis can feel overwhelming, requiring significant changes to your diet and lifestyle. Around 85 percent of pregnant women with gestational diabetes can use diet and exercise to manage their blood sugar. Eating a balanced diet is key – experts recommend 40 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 40 percent healthy fats. (Choose complex carbs like whole grains, legumes, and starchy veggies; avoid simple sugars like those in sodas, juice, and desserts.)

In addition to what you eat, when you eat is important, too. Aim to have three balanced meals and two snacks a day. If you're having trouble, ask your doctor or midwife for help. They may refer you to a dietitian.

Cope with gender disappointment

What if you had your heart set on a baby girl, but are having a boy? Or the other way around? You might feel embarrassed to admit you felt sad when you learned your baby's sex – but gender disappointment is a real thing, and nothing to be ashamed about.

Coping with gender disappointment begins with accepting the emotions you're feeling, rather than succumbing to guilt or shame. Then, find ways to focus on your love for your baby as a human being, not a person of a specific sex. Remember, sex is their biology but gender is a more flexible concept. This means your baby will express who they are uniquely!

If you're feeling extreme disappointment that doesn't resolve with time, check in with your healthcare provider or a therapist. You might be experiencing symptoms of depression during pregnancy or pregnancy anxiety.

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26 weeks pregnant bellies

At this point in pregnancy, you may be feeling some new and unwelcome aches and pains. To relieve sore muscles and body aches in pregnancy, lie down, relax, and apply heat and/or cold to the affected areas. A cold pack can reduce inflammation and help to soothe muscle and back pain.

To apply heat, you can use an electric heating pad, hot water bottle, or microwaveable pad filled with flax or buckwheat. Don't apply heat to your abdomen for longer than ten minutes, because you don't want to raise your internal temperature too much.

Another way to get relief is by having a prenatal massage – a massage that's specifically tailored to the needs of expecting moms. Your massage therapist should be able to help you get comfortable at every stage of pregnancy. You can lie on your side with pillows, wedges, or a full-length body pillow for support. Some prenatal massage therapists use a special table or pad with hollowed areas and pillows to accommodate your belly and breasts, so you can lie face down.

In addition to easing discomfort, massage can reduce swelling, improve your mood, and help you relax. Before getting a pregnancy massage, make sure to get your provider's okay and find a massage therapist with training in prenatal massage. They'll know which techniques to use and which areas to avoid.

26 weeks pregnant bellies

This week's video



BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Fetal Development: Stages of Growth. a new window [Accessed June 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2021. Fetal development: The 2nd trimester. a new window [Accessed June 2022]

MedlinePlus (ADAM). 2019. Fetal development. a new window [Accessed June 2022]

Hadlock FP et al. 1991. In utero analysis of fetal growth: A sonographic weight standard. Radiology 181 (1). a new window [Accessed June 2022]

Hadlock FP et al. 1992. Fetal cross-rump length: Reevaluation of relation to menstrual age (5-18 weeks) with high-resolution real-time US. Radiology 182: 5-1-505. a new window [Accessed June 2022]

Vintzileos AM et al. 1984. The ultrasound femur length as a predictor of fetal length. Obstetrics & Gynecology 64(6): 779-82. a new window [Accessed June 2022]

Hadlock FP 1984. Estimating fetal age: Computer-assisted analysis of multiple fetal growth parameters. Radiology 152: 497-501. a new window [Accessed June 2022]

Mary Sauer

Mary Sauer is a freelance parenting and health writer living in Kansas City. She is a mom of four and loves to hike with her kids, read, and knit. Cooking a complicated meal her kids probably won't eat is one of her favorite pastimes.

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