You and Your Baby at Week 21 of Your Pregnancy

(10 minute read)

You and Your Baby at Week 21 of Your Pregnancy

Week 21

As you enter the 21st week of pregnancy, you're more than halfway through your incredible journey. This period is marked by significant development for both you and your baby. Understanding the changes happening during this week can help you prepare for what's ahead, manage symptoms, and connect more deeply with your growing baby.

How Big is Baby at 21 Weeks?

At 21 weeks, your baby is rapidly growing. This is because he or she is preparing for life after birth. Also, essential skills are being developed like sucking (on the thumb for now) and breathing. The hair and eyebrows are also now starting to develop. Your baby will also now be able to hear sounds outside the womb, so talking to your baby or even singing (even if you have a terrible voice) are good ways of bonding with your baby!

Typically, your baby (or foetus) will now be about the size of a large banana, measuring approximately 26.7cm from head to toe and weighing around 340 grams, so now weighs more than the placenta. However, remember that every baby grows at their own pace.

The foetus has been developing "lanugo", which is a layer of fine hair covering the body. This hair will vanish just before birth, and its purpose is to keep your baby at just the right temperature.

Your baby's movements are becoming more coordinated. You might start to feel more pronounced movements, such as kicks, jabs, and flips. This is often one of the most exciting parts of this stage for many expectant mothers. Your baby is now establishing waking and sleeping patterns, which may not match your own and could keep you awake at night.

Your Body at Week 21

By now you are probably quite unsteady on your feet, due to your growing bump, and the fact that your joints are looser.

Your body is undergoing continuous changes to accommodate the growing baby. By week 21, your uterus has grown significantly, and you might have gained between 10 to 15 pounds, but this varies for each woman.

Physical Changes

Increased Appetite: Your increased appetite is a sign that your baby is demanding more nutrients.

Breast Growth: Your breasts may continue to grow and start to produce colostrum – the first form of milk that's rich in nutrients.

Skin Changes: Some women develop stretch marks, and you might notice changes in skin pigmentation, such as the darkening of the areolas.

Common Symptoms

Backaches and Leg Cramps: The extra weight can strain your back. Leg cramps, especially at night, are common due to changes in calcium and magnesium levels.

Mild Swelling: Swelling in the feet and ankles is typical due to increased fluid retention.

Heartburn and Indigestion: As your uterus grows, it can press against your stomach, leading to digestive discomforts.

Insomnia: Taking naps during the day can be a good idea to make up for lost sleep.


Managing Symptoms at Week 21

Nutrition: Eat a healthy, balanced diet to support your baby's development and to help give you more energy. Ditch the junk food!

Exercise: Gentle exercises like prenatal yoga can help alleviate back pain and improve circulation.

Hydration: Drinking plenty of water helps reduce swelling and prevent urinary tract infections.

Comfortable Clothing: Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes and supportive shoes.

Emotional Well-being

This stage of pregnancy can be an emotional rollercoaster. Hormonal changes can cause mood swings, and the reality of impending parenthood might feel overwhelming.

Tips for Emotional Health

Open Communication: Talk about your feelings with your partner, friends or family, or even a professional if you feel you need to.

Relaxation Techniques: Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, or prenatal massage to manage stress.

Support Groups: Joining a prenatal class or support group can connect you with others who are going through similar experiences.

Preparing for the Future

As you approach the second half of your pregnancy, it's a good time to start preparing for your new arrival:

Baby Names: Discuss and shortlist baby names with your partner.

Nursery Setup: Begin setting up and decorating the baby's nursery.

Birth Plan: Start thinking about your birth plan and discuss it with your doctor or midwife. Perhaps you would like to give birth at home? There are a few options.

 

At 21 weeks, your baby is developing quickly, and your body is adapting to support this growth. While you might experience various physical and emotional symptoms, remember that these are normal and manageable. Stay informed, practice self-care, and prepare for the exciting journey ahead. Pregnancy is a unique and special time – cherish these moments as you await the arrival of your little one.

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