You and Your Baby at Week 20 of Your Pregnancy

Your baby is the size of a banana!

(10 minute read)

You and Your Baby at Week 20 of Your Pregnancy

Week 20

Congratulations, you're now half-way through your pregnancy! This is a significant milestone, and week 20 is a time of considerable change and excitement for expectant mothers. Your baby's development is continuing at a rapid pace.

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How Big is Baby at 20 Weeks?

Week 19 Fetus (1)

By week 20, your baby has undergone incredible growth. On average, the foetus measures about 25.6 cm long from head to heel (which is how measurements are taken from now on), or about the size of a banana. Your baby weighs around 300 grams, and this growth will continue to accelerate in the coming weeks.

At 20 weeks, your baby is now covered in a layer of what is known as "vernix". This white, greasy substance protects your baby's delicate skin from the amniotic fluid and prevents it from drying out. As it is slippery, it will also help your baby to slide down the birth canal.

You will notice your baby getting more and more active. By now, the baby will be punching, kicking and turning around, all of which you will be able to feel. Most babies by now have also started to suck their thumbs - this activity is very important in developing the sucking reflex necessary for feeding once they are born.

Your Body at 20 Weeks

At week 20, many women notice their belly becoming more pronounced. This increase in size can lead to a shift in the centre of gravity, causing changes in posture and potential back pain. It is therefore important to practise good posture and engage in exercises that strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, whilst not being too strenuous.

Skin Changes: Due to hormonal changes, some women may experience skin alterations such as the darkening of the nipples, the appearance of a dark line down the middle of the stomach (linea nigra), or stretch marks. These changes are normal and vary from person to person.

 

Increased Blood Volume: Your blood volume increases significantly to support the growing foetus, which can lead to changes in blood pressure and increased workload on the heart. Regular check-ups with your doctor or midwife are crucial to monitor these changes.

 

Emotional Changes: Feelings of excitement and anticipation may combine with anxiety and concern. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, seek support from family, friends, or even professionals if need be.

 

Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 20

Appetite Changes: Many women experience an increase in appetite as the body requires more nutrients to support the growing baby. Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated is essential.

 

Swelling and Fluid Retention: You may also notice swelling in your feet and ankles due to increased fluid retention. While this is usually normal, sudden or severe swelling should be discussed with your GP as it can be a sign of preeclampsia.

 

Leg Cramps and Back Pain: As the uterus expands, it can put pressure on nerves and blood vessels, leading to leg cramps and back pain. Gentle exercise, stretching, and good posture can help alleviate these symptoms.

 

Breast Changes: Your breasts may continue to grow and become more tender as they prepare for breastfeeding. You may want to invest in a pregnancy support bra.

 


Your "Anomaly" Scan

Around week 20 is when you would normally have your Anomaly Scan. This is to check your baby's development and also examine the placenta (the organ which feeds your baby and removes waste).

The scan can detect physical abnormalities, although it can't pick up every condition. This scan is not compulsory, and you will be asked permission for it to be carried out.

 

Regular Prenatal Checkups: Continue with regular prenatal appointments. These check-ups allow for monitoring the baby's growth and your health, and addressing any concerns you may have.

Balanced Diet and Hydration: Maintain a healthy, balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Constipation can be a real problem during pregnancy. Staying hydrated is also crucial for both you and your baby's health.

Exercise: Engaging in moderate exercise can help manage weight, reduce pregnancy symptoms, and increase overall well-being. However, it's important to consult with your doctor or midwife before starting any exercise regimen.

Rest and Relaxation: Getting enough rest is vital. Listening to your body and taking time to relax can help manage stress and fatigue.

Educate Yourself: This is a good time to start learning about childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care. Many hospitals offer classes for expectant parents. So, drag your partner along too!

 

Now you have reached the halfway point in your pregnancy, hopefully you have gained some knowledge to help you navigate this very exciting time with confidence and joy. Keep it up, you're doing great!

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