Pregnancy: The Sixth Month

Hands on pregnant belly 

Physical changes in the sixth month of pregnancy

At the beginning of this month, you may be able to distinguish different parts of the baby through your abdominal wall. You will be very aware of your baby’s movements and may be able to appreciate her wake and sleep patterns. These are patterns of vigorous activity followed quiet times. You may want to keep track of these patterns, as they may continue after your baby is born. The end of this month will be an exciting time, because your partner and other people will be able to see the baby moving!

You will put on weight quite consistently for the next few months. In fact, the second half of pregnancy is when you will gain most of your pregnancy weight. You should put on about 0.5 kg (1 lb) per week this month. By the end of this month, you will be noticeably larger, and you will continue to put on weight around your chest as well as your breasts. Your uterus is heavy enough now that it will put pressure on your blood vessels and make you feel faint if you lie on your back. The top of the uterus reaches well above your belly button now.

Your hemorrhoids, itchy abdomen, absent-mindedness, and other symptoms will continue, and you may start to feel clumsy because of your growing size. This month, you will start to develop Braxton Hicks contractions. These are a slight tensing of your uterus as it prepares for childbirth. Braxton Hicks contractions will become more frequent and noticeable as time goes on. You may also notice a stitch-like pain down the sides of your tummy from time to time, caused by the stretching of the ligaments that are attached to the uterus. This may go away after some rest, but may come and go throughout your pregnancy.

Throughout this month and the rest of your pregnancy, you may have aches in your feet and legs caused by the strain of carrying extra weight. You might also have leg cramps. Heartburn and backache are common. Your urge to urinate will increase due to pressure on your bladder from the growing uterus. Your increased blood circulation will make your face look rosy and healthy. Pink streaks will form in the skin of your abdomen due to stretching from underneath. Don’t worry, these streaks usually become less noticeable after birth.

Kick counts

It is recommended that you keep track of your unborn baby’s kick counts from about six months of pregnancy, as a way of making sure that she is OK. Each day, record how long it takes for your baby to make 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. You should feel at least 10 movements within two hours, but you will probably feel that many movements in a much shorter amount of time. Alternately, time how long it takes your baby to make three movements. You should feel at least three movements in a half hour.

You may start to notice patterns and a general length of time that baby usually takes to make a certain number of movements. If you notice major deviations from the pattern, check with your health care provider.

Your medical visit in the sixth month of pregnancy

Your medical visit this month will be similar to that of previous months. Your health care provider will check the following:

  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • urine
  • fetal heartbeat
  • size and shape of uterus
  • height of the top of your uterus, called the fundus
  • position of the baby
  • swelling of ankles or feet, especially if accompanied by headaches, visual changes or abdominal pain, which are possible signs of pregnancy-induced hypertension

Medical tests in the sixth month of pregnancy

It is recommended that all pregnant women be screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If your health care provider determines that you are high risk for gestational diabetes, he may request the test as early as 13 weeks. In the screening test, you will be asked to drink a special high-glucose fluid, and one hour later, some blood will be drawn and tested. If the results are borderline positive for gestational diabetes, you will be asked to do a second screening test.

For more information about CVS and other tests, see "Prenatal Testing."

Concerns in the sixth month of pregnancy

This month, you should make yourself aware of the signs of premature labour, so that you will know if you need help. The symptoms are:

  • more than five contractions per hour
  • bright red blood from vagina
  • swelling of the face or hands
  • pain during urination
  • sharp or prolonged pain in stomach
  • acute or continuous vomiting
  • sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from vagina
  • low, dull backache
  • intense pelvic pressure

Emotional changes and depression in the second trimester of pregnancy

Mood swings occur much less frequently in this trimester than in the first or third trimester. As usual, though, you may be worried about certain things. You may wonder if the pregnancy is proceeding normally and worry about injuring your baby. You may be disappointed that you can no longer control the appearance of your body, and need reassurance from your partner that you are still beautiful and sexy. You might be concerned about the consequences of becoming a mother. You may become hypercritical of your partner’s attitude, manners, and masculinity, and worry about his ability to run the household when you are unable to do so. You might even be concerned that your partner could be jealous of your pregnancy.

Depression is far less frequent in the second trimester than at any other time during pregnancy. Depression during these months is usually related to the reliving of anxieties or events of past pregnancies. For example, a woman may be depressed if she previously had a second trimester pregnancy loss. Ongoing marital problems may contribute to depression. Try to talk out any problems you may be having with your partner. Supportive psychotherapy can help too if you are feeling particularly distressed.

How your baby is developing

Nicolette Caccia, MEd, MD, FRCSC

Rory Windrim, MB, MSc, FRCSC ​