This week (twenty-four weeks pregnant) I went to the dentist. Luckily for me, everything looked fine. My gums were a little inflamed, but the dentist explained that that is normal during pregnancy. Increased levels of hormones during pregnancy have an effect on your teeth and gums. You may notice your teeth becoming more sensitive, or your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth. Make sure to take good care of your teeth. Brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly. You may find that a different toothpaste (for example, one for sensitive teeth, or an ultra-clean variety) seems to work better during pregnancy.
Also, try to schedule a check-up with your dentist before your baby’s born. They can make sure that your gums and teeth are healthy, and that no more serious problems (cavities, infected gums, etc.) are developing. Although you should avoid x-rays during pregnancy, most dental work is safe. If you live in the UK, dental care is free during pregnancy and until your baby’s first birthday, so make sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and when your due date is. Take advantage of the free care and get your teeth checked.
So what’s happening with baby this week?
Your baby’s taste buds are developing significantly at this stage. As your baby swallows small amounts of amniotic fluid, they can actually taste it. Although the amniotic fluid generally has a sweet taste, it is affected by what you eat. Your baby is already developing a preference for certain tastes.
A major achievement is that this is the first week that your baby is considered viable. That means that, if your baby were to be born now, it would have a chance to survive! They would, however, probably spend several months in the hospital. (Even with specialist care, babies born before this stage almost never survive. In a study in the UK spanning twelve years and thousands of births, none of the babies born before 24 weeks survived, whereas babies born in the 24th week of pregnancy began to have a chance.) Obviously it is better if your baby makes it to full term, but you can breathe a sigh of relief that from now on they would have a chance of survival.
Although baby only weighs between a pound and a pound and a half at the end of this week, you can expect to gain weight more rapidly now. The baby will begin putting on weight at a faster rate, and your body will make other adjustments (such as increased blood flow and preparation for breast feeding) as well.