Week 21

Your baby this week

340

GRAMS IN WEIGHT

Your baby has more control over those nudges and kicks.

Her arms and legs are in proportion to one another.

Your baby's cartilage is now turning to bone.

How big is your baby?

She’s now measuring about 26.7cm (10 ½ inches) and weighs approximately 340g (12oz), which makes her the size of a large carrot.

How big is your baby?

She’s now measuring about 26.7cm (10 ½ inches) and weighs approximately 340g (12oz), which makes her the size of a large carrot.

What does your baby look like?

Her skin is gradually changing from pink to red as her capillaries develop under the skin. If you had a snapshot of her in the womb, you might notice that her tiny eyebrows are thickening and her lips are becoming more defined. Her eyes are now darting about under her eyelids and these are just a few of the gradual changes happening every day as the birth draws closer.

Changes in your body this week

There are so many changes to your body during pregnancy and unfortunately not all of them are good. From this point onwards you may notice stretchmarks zig-zagging their way over your skin. Initially presenting as purple, red or pink streaks, stretchmarks are formed when the supporting tissue tears as the skin stretches. Predisposition to these marks is often hereditary, with darker-skinned women developing fewer stretchmarks than their paler-skinned counterparts.

There are numerous products on the market claiming to combat the appearance of stretch marks, but the truth is that many of these ‘miracle potions’ won’t actually do anything at all. However, the sensation of rubbing moisturising lotions and oils into your skin can be very soothing and may generally just help you feel better – try asking your partner to help as this can be an extra bonding action for baby and parent-to-be.

Stretch marks happen more often if there’s rapid weight gain, but the good news is that they fade over time to much less noticeable pale, silvery lines.

How your baby is developing

Her taste buds are developing which means there’s a chance she can taste what you had for dinner. Nutrients cross the placenta into the amniotic fluid which she will then swallow, practising hard for the day she’s in your arms and her digestive system gets going. Cartilage is now turning to bone throughout your baby’s little body, her arms and legs are finally in proportion to one another and, perhaps most excitingly, her neurological connections between the brain and muscles are now in place.

How your baby is developing

Her taste buds are developing which means there’s a chance she can taste what you had for dinner. Nutrients cross the placenta into the amniotic fluid which she will then swallow, practising hard for the day she’s in your arms and her digestive system gets going. Cartilage is now turning to bone throughout your baby’s little body, her arms and legs are finally in proportion to one another and, perhaps most excitingly, her neurological connections between the brain and muscles are now in place.

These baby upgrades lead to her having more control over those nudges and kicks that you’re feeling.

Health concerns

As your pregnancy progresses on past the halfway point, it might all start feeling a bit more real with an ever-expanding bump and those little fluttering movements becoming stronger. Some women become anxious around this time; worried about the birth or how they’ll cope with a newborn baby. The good news is that anxiety for pregnant women is perfectly normal and the best thing to do is just acknowledge it. Having a chat with a friend who’s already had a baby can help, as can sitting down with your partner for a heart-to-heart. As ever, if your feelings of anxiety become overwhelming and are interrupting your day to day life, then a chat with your midwife or GP might be a good idea.

Are there any symptoms you should be looking out for?

An annoying itchy feeling is very common during pregnancy. But if you develop sudden, severe itching you should contact your midwife immediately because this can be a sign of a rare liver disorder called intrahepactic cholestasis of pregnancy (also referred to as obstetric cholestasis). This occurs when the bile acids that normally run from the liver to the intestine to help with digestion don’t flow as they should and instead build up in your body. This is a very serious condition which needs immediate medical treatment. There’s a well documented increased risk of stillbirth with obstetric cholestasis and if you’ve suffered from it then you will normally be offered an induction between 37-38 weeks pregnant.

Safety first

It’s best for pregnant women to avoid any heavy lifting. And whilst you can delegate lifting of most things to someone else, if you have an older baby then you probably won’t have a choice but to lift your child several times a day. It’s actually fine to pick up your child, unless your GP has restricted your activity for some reason. The important thing is to protect your back as you lift, so stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend from your knees, not your waist. The power to lift should come from your arms and legs and not your back.

Important issues this week

Your burgeoning bump and altered centre of gravity in week 21 of pregnancy can make you feel more clumsy and see you bumping into things a lot more. This is perfectly normal for pregnant women, but it can still be frightening if you fall, or bash into something particularly hard. The good news is that your baby is very well protected in your uterus, cushioned as she is with amniotic fluid and the strong muscular walls of your womb.

Keeping fit, staying healthy

From this point onwards, it becomes increasingly important to choose low-impact exercise. The relaxin hormone is busy making your ligaments nice and loose to accommodate your pregnancy and your risk of injury is a lot higher than normal. Yoga, swimming and walking are all good ways of staying active and there are lots of pregnancy-focused exercise classes which are designed especially with expectant mums in mind. See our fitness and exercise pages for more ideas about how to keep up a healthy lifestyle as you get bigger and approach labour day.

Looking forward; planning ahead

You’re over halfway and about now you might start thinking about how you’d like to manage your labour. Do you want a homebirth? Would you prefer to deliver in a midwife-led unit rather than a hospital? Later in your pregnancy you can take a tour of the labour ward or unit, but for now you can just start thinking about some of the choices you’ll be making. For example, which pain relief do you want – and what you don’t want? What are your feelings about an assisted delivery or emergency caesarean and who will you want with you while you’re in labour? There’s some evidence to show that warm water can ease the pain of contractions so you might like to think about using a birthing pool. As they say, forewarned is forearmed and making sure you have all the relevant information to hand now, can help you plan with plenty of time. However, as with many of life’s journeys, sometimes things may not go to plan, so be prepared for change and try to find out a bit about what might happen in an emergency. Then it won’t come as a shock to you, or your partner.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.
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