The fetus continues to grow rapidly and weighs about two pounds and measures nine inches or more by the 26th week. The air sacs of the lungs are starting to develop and surfactant is being secreted to line the air sacs. Surfactant is necessary for normal lung function. The brain is also working hard as the senses of hearing and vision are developing this week.
Braxton Hicks contractions start this week and for pregnant women carrying multiples, these contractions may be a bit more worrisome, because there is a concern about premature labor. Early labor is common with multiples, so if the tightening of the uterus is accompanied by cramping or spotting and especially if it's more frequent than 2-3 times an hour then it is important to contact the doctor. Braxton Hicks contractions do not change the cervix like real labor contractions. Instead, they are a method of practicing for active labor. Read more about the difference between true labor and Braxton-Hicks contractions HERE.
By the time the 26th week starts, the body needs about 300 extra calories to maintain healthy function. Calories should not be empty coming from processed foods and sweets. Instead, whole grains, high fiber, fruits and vegetables are perfect choices. Women expecting multiples will need more extra calories than the singlet pregnancy.
Dad can be working hard on the nursery at this time. Painting the nursery is allowed only if the pregnant woman is not in the room – preferably not in the house. There are low odor paints available that can be used if mom must stay in the home during the painting process. Assembling the crib, car set and stroller are also great pastimes for Dad.
Fluid retention is typical during the latter stages of the second trimester and throughout the third trimester. Fluid can collect in the lower half of the body, specifically the legs, ankles and feet. Standing for long periods of time may increase the effect of fluid retention. It is important for pregnant women to sit down often and lift the feet above the heart whenever possible.
Contractions from this point forward should be watched closely. While some women feel Braxton Hicks contractions are as painful as labor contractions, there is very little comparison when active labor begins. Braxton Hicks contractions may feel like menstrual cramping at times, especially for women who are pregnant with multiples. If more than four contractions are felt each hour, early labor could be beginning.