You are now 23 weeks pregnant which is the beginning of week 24. Your baby has grown to be about 28 cm long (or 11.2 inches) and approximately 600 grams in weight (or 1 lb 5 oz). Your baby may now be big enough for your partner (or others) to feel your belly and sense them kicking and stretching!
Many women notice that their baby tends to be noticeably more active when they are resting, perhaps because when a pregnant woman is active, her body naturally 'rocks' her baby to sleep. Your baby now has definite sleep and wake patterns (although they may sleep up to 95% of the time) and now have REM (or rapid eye movement), which indicates they may be dreaming!
Your baby can now rotate their head and could experience hiccups (also spelt 'hiccoughs'). Hiccups are caused by the sudden, irregular contractions of their immature diaphragm (the muscle that supports their lungs) and while they may be capable of sporadic hiccoughs as early as 12 weeks gestation, they are generally stronger and more rhythmic by this stage. Some unborn babies hiccup quite frequently. This may be sensed by the mother as small, regular 'jumps' in their belly every now and then for short periods of time. A very strange sensation! This is very normal (but does not happen with all babies).
Your baby is now covered with a thick layer of white vernix cream to protect their skin in their watery environment and they now have sweat glands. A fine layer of fat is now forming between their muscle tissues and skin. This covers their blood vessels and makes their complexion look less translucent.
Babies at 24 weeks have been noted to increase their breathing patterns (expanding their lungs with amniotic fluid) after their mothers eats (especially if the food contains sugar!) Your baby's lungs now start to produce a substance called 'surfactant'. This lines their lungs and will assist them to breathe after birth. Even so, babies born as early as 24 weeks (or less) only have a very small chance of survival (about 2 to 3 %). For parents who are faced with this difficult situation, decisions regarding the use ofintensive care treatments for babies this premature need to be discussed with professional caregivers. You may wish to read premature baby.