Is Week 26 the Third Trimester? Fetal Development

Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2022
Is Week 26 the Third Trimester
At week 26 of pregnancy, you are at the end of your second trimester and nearing the start of your third trimester. Learn about what to expect at 26 weeks

Week 26 of pregnancy is the last week of the second trimester, meaning you are almost at your third trimester.

At this point, your baby bump is roughly 2.5-3 inches above your umbilicus and is increasing at a rate of about a centimeter every week. Learn about what to expect during the 26th week of pregnancy and how you can plan ahead.

What is baby development at 26 weeks?

  • Growth: Your baby has likely reached a length of 13.7 inches and weighs about 1.98 pounds. Wrinkles in the skin start to disappear because fat accumulates below the skin and muscles start to develop.
  • Lungs: Your baby swallows amniotic fluid, which helps with lung development. Your baby starts to develop surfactants in the lungs that allow them to breathe and survive outside your womb. 
  • Heart: Your baby’s blood vessels and circulatory system are not completely functional, meaning the heart is beating and blood is pumping throughout the body.
  • Skin: Your baby’s skin starts to produce melanin, a pigment that protects the skin from sunlight after birth.
  • Eyes: Up until this point, your baby’s eyes have closed to allow time for the retina to develop. At 26 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s eyes will begin to open. The irises still lack pigmentation, which will develop over the following month or two.
  • Hair: Hair on the head and lashes around the eyes start to develop.
  • Nervous system: Your baby’s brain wave activity increases, and the nerves in the ears begin to mature. Your baby may respond to loud sounds and light and may move in response to stimuli.
  • Movements: Your baby may kick, poke, and flip throughout the day. It is important to pay attention to the frequency of fetal movements in the following weeks.

What pregnancy symptoms can you expect at 26 weeks?

  • Pain: Pain in your pelvis, lower back, ribs, legs, and knees is common when your body weight increases. The ligaments in your pelvis may become more flexible in preparation for labor and delivery. This can result in pain in the pelvic area and lower back when you sit, stand, or go up or down the stairs. 
  • Swelling: Your ankles and knees may begin to swell.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI): UTIs are fairly common during pregnancy. If left untreated, UTIs can progress to a more serious bladder or kidney infection. Notify your doctor right away if you experience painful urination, urgency, or fever. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection.
  • Headaches: At this point, headaches and migraines are quite common. Headaches may also cause poor sleep quality.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions: Some pregnant women experience contractions in the second trimester, although they are more common during the third trimester. Braxton Hicks contractions feel like a tightening in your stomach, and they can be painful. They are more likely to occur later in the day and after exercise or sexual activity. Staying hydrated is one method to avoid Braxton Hicks contractions. If you are unsure whether you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions or actual labor contractions, talk to your doctor right away.
  • Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are common during pregnancy as you begin to prepare for childbirth. If you have a history of depression or are feeling more nervous than usual, talk to your doctor. 

Other symptoms you may experience during week 26 of pregnancy include:


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What are potential pregnancy complications at 26 weeks?

  • Gestational diabetes: Since there are chances of developing gestational diabetes, you need to get tested. 
  • Anemia: Anemia is common during pregnancy. It is recommended to get your iron levels checked and take supplements accordingly.
  • Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a dangerous pregnancy complication in which blood pressure elevates. It usually begins after 20 weeks and warning signs include water retention in the legs. Immediate management of preeclampsia is necessary to protect both mother and baby.

How can you plan ahead at 26 weeks of pregnancy?

With each passing week, you come closer to the delivery, and that means it is time to start thinking about your birth plan. You can start outlining how you want each stage of labor to be handled and what to do in the event of an emergency.

It is also important to be on the lookout for symptoms that could indicate preterm labor and birth such as:

  • 5 or more contractions in an hour that are similar to menstrual pain
  • Water breaking
  • Pelvic breasure
  • Vaginal bleeding 

If you experience persistent contractions or your water breaks, contact your doctor immediately.

Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Week 26.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. How Your Fetus Grows During Pregnancy.

Birth Injury Help Center. Risks of Complication at Every Stage of Pregnancy.