Okay, you are twenty-one weeks pregnant! The finish line is in sight, and there is more on your mind than ever before. First of all, if you’re already thinking about when the baby arrives, we have the perfect thing.
Z Living’s series Birth Days chronicles the first six months of new parents with their newborns. This show is sure to get you ready for all the hilarious moments and late nights ahead.
For the meantime, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you better understand being twenty-one weeks pregnant.
What It’s Like.
By now you should feel your baby moving fairly often, and you might discover that it’s not keeping the same hours as you. You may find yourself waking up with a nudge to the stomach or the feeling of fluttering inside. Don’t worry—it’s just a sign that he’s healthy and everything is right on schedule.
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Your Baby’s Growth:
- Body size: Your baby is around 7.8 inches (200 millimeters) in length and about 1 lb (500 g). It’s about the size of a carrot.
- Head characteristics: Your baby’s hearing will sharpen this week, so it’ll hear noises such as barking dogs or the vacuum cleaner. His or her taste buds will also begin to form.
- Body appearance: Your baby’s skin is still wrinkled and red as it doesn’t have enough fat to fill it out. In time, the skin will stretch and collagen deposits will create that baby softness.
- Internal organs: The lungs start to produce a substance called surfactant this week. The surfactant prevents the pulmonary alveoli (a type of air bags) from sticking together when empty of air. Your baby starts practicing the act of breathing, although the lungs are still filled with amniotic fluid, and will be until birth. The placenta provides all the necessary oxygen for movement and growth.
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What’s Happening Inside Your Body?
If you’ve been suffering from headaches, you may find they start to get better over the next few weeks. As your body grows accustomed to the increased levels of progesterone, the nausea will also start to fade, and your fatigue will ease. You may find that your breasts and belly are less sore, although you probably are also experiencing itchiness around your stretch marks as your uterus grows. As your organs move around to make way for the growing womb, you may find that your indigestion, bloating and constipation continue. And you may start to feel a gnawing anxiety as the reality of your approaching motherhood hits—don’t worry it’s perfectly normal. You can talk about it with your partner, family and friends. You can also try meditation, yoga, exercise, or anything that you find relaxing and grounding.
- Edemas: Swelling (edema) of the ankles and feet is perfectly normal—it happens because you are carrying extra fluid. Also, your growing uterus puts pressure on your pelvic veins and your vena cava—the vein on your right that carries blood from legs back to the heart. The pressure slows the return of blood from your legs, causing it to pool, leading to swelling of your feet and ankles. Edema is perfectly normal, however if you notice it in your face or arms, you should tell your doctor. Swelling in your upper body might be a sign of preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension, an easily treatable disease.
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How Different Will You Look?
Your probably gaining about 1 lb per week now, which is faster than previous weeks. Your total weight gain is about 15 pounds (7 kilograms), although slightly more or less is also perfectly normal and healthy too. If you don’t have the money to invest in a new pregnancy wardrobe, or don’t want to buy lots of new clothes for just a few months of wear, then choose a few key affordable items. The basics include some comfortable underwear (for the growing belly and increased discharge), supportive bra, and some flat shoes (so you don’t fall over as your center of gravity has changed). If you choose low-waisted slacks, they’ll give you more room as your uterus grows. Try and invest in at least one nice outfit – its good to feel you can still look great despite the weight gain.
Tip For Dad—Prepare For The Birth.
You’re mid-way there and by now, you may be getting a little curious about the birth. While it’s probably too early to be signing up for childbirth classes with your partner, you can prepare in other ways. Check out delivery and labor videos online or ask your midwife or hospital if they have similar resources. By starting on research now, it gives an indication that you’re committed and interested in the pregnancy. And it can kick-start discussions on what type of birth she wants, whether water, hospital, at home, with a doula, etc.
Tips For Mom—How To Get Through This Trimester.
- Ameliorate edemas and varicose veins: Keep moving. Try and move your legs, even briefly, about once every half hour to protect yourself from varicose veins and swelling. If you’re sitting in an office, stretch your legs, or better, get up. Away from work, activities such as walking, aqua-fit, yoga, pilates, will help you strengthen your core, and ease any back pain and lessen the swelling. Try to avoid exercises where you lie on your back. The pressure on your aorta can even make you faint in that position.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated in vitally important during your pregnancy. Drink ample water daily, which flushes waste products from the cells and aids in liver and kidney function for both mom and the baby. If you don’t have enough water, it can lead to increased edema, constipation, fatigue, joint pain and increases your risk of miscarriage. Drink lots of fluids – water and fruit juice are great, but avoid excess tea, coffee or other caffeine drinks, which will increase urination, sweating and could harm the baby.
Your baby is about the size of a carrot and is learning how to hear. You are more than half-way through, and you are gaining about 1 lb per week. Over the next few weeks, trying to take the time to sign up for those pre-natal classes!