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As a 21 week pregnant woman, you have crossed the halfway line on your journey to becoming a mother.
Let’s take a closer look at what the 21 week old fetus looks like and what you will be experiencing during this time.
Your baby at week 21 of pregnancy
At 5 months in the womb, your baby is now getting bigger. You can now definitely feel her presence as she explores the real estate that you’ve prepared for her.
There are plenty of nudges and kicks as she swims in the amniotic fluid and does occasional somersaults.
How big is your baby at 21 weeks pregnant?
So, what does a baby look like at 21 weeks? At this point of time, the baby is as long as a banana, measuring 10 and a half inches from the crown to the heel.
The baby weighs roughly three-quarters of a pound (340 g), which comes down to about 14,1 ounces (400 g).
Throughout this period, the baby will continue to grow.
At this stage of your pregnancy, your bump is evident and you have probably started putting on loose-fitting clothes that are more comfortable. You should avoid tight clothes and clothes that put pressure on your belly.
Even if your baby is a bit small, you can feel some movement from within your belly. Its limbs are growing and you can make out the fingers and toes.
Pregnancy week 21 fetal development
In the weeks prior to the twenty-first, the baby's spleen and liver have been working hard to produce much-needed blood cells to the growing fetus. At this time though, the bone marrow from long bones now comes in to give a helping hand.
One of the most noticeable things at this stage is the fact that the baby’s movements are now discernible. You can feel all the fetal movements as the baby constantly changes position within the womb.
This is mainly because the cartilage tissue is now hardening to become bone and the neurons are finally connecting to control the limbs. That is why limb movements become more coordinated.
The fetus is now able to suck and grasp, and may have bouts of hiccups. The baby ingests a bit of the amniotic fluid in which it is swimming. The baby’s taste buds are so developed at this point that it can actually taste some of the food that you’re eating that makes it into the fluid.
Your body at week 21 of pregnancy
If it hadn’t already, the reality now sets in that you are actually going to bring a new life into the world. This can usually lead to some bit of anxiety, especially if you are going to be a first-time mother.
Close to 5 months into your pregnancy, you start to notice some things about your body. Your belly is now quite noticeable and you can feel your baby’s activity within. There are also a number of other symptoms that let you know you’ve crossed the halfway point of your pregnancy.
21 weeks pregnant belly
Since the baby has now expanded, your belly tries to keep up with this growth. The belly is now visible enough and you have to rethink the tight jeans and skirts. You should instead opt for more comfortable and loose fitting pants and maternity dresses.
Many times the skin on your belly cannot keep up with this rapid growth, forming stretch marks. Sometimes a rash will develop with the stretch marks. Don’t forget to use emollients and oils to help your skin stay moisturized and less itchy.
Known as Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) rash, it causes itchy skin all around the belly. This can really affect your ability to get the sleep you need during the night.
21 weeks pregnant symptoms
At 21 weeks, you are in the middle of your second trimester. This means that you are through the majority of the uncomfortable symptoms you experience in the first trimester.
Even if the second trimester is more comfortable, there are still some symptoms that you should be aware of.
Here are some of the symptoms you are likely to experience at week 21 of your pregnancy.
As your baby develops and gains more weight, it takes more nutrients from you via the placenta and amniotic fluid. You, therefore, need to keep the nutrient supply up by eating. That is why you are always craving and eating various foodstuffs and snacks.
If you get the urge to snack, opt for healthier choices like bits of fruit. Processed snacks might give your heartburn and other complications.
At week 21, you will feel the gentle nudges and kicks as your bay moves around with the womb. As the weeks go on, however, the intensity of these kicks will increase.
Bloating and increased flatulence
As the baby gets bigger within you, your uterus exerts more pressure on your bowel. This usually results in more instances of your passing gas.
Constipation becomes more common because of high levels of progesterone and because of growing uterus pressure on them, the gas might not have anywhere to pass, leaving you feeling bloated. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating fiber-rich foods can alleviate constipation.
The larger size of the belly and baby within strain the back muscles. This causes constant back pain. This back pain is also made a bit worse when the hormone relaxin loosens the joints and ligaments in preparation for stretching during birth.
Speaking of hormones, there’s quite a number coursing through your bloodstream trying to maintain your pregnancy at 21 weeks. These hormones cause your skin to become very oily, leading to the development or worsening of acne.
The pressure on your legs increases as you become more heavily pregnant. Growing uterus compresses veins of the pelvis. This may result in varicose veins on your legs and other parts like your rectum.
You can prevent them from developing by getting more exercise. Take frequent walks instead of standing or sitting in one place for too long. Your doctor may recommend you wearing compression stockings.
It is also advisable to lie on your left side.
Urinary tract infections
UTI symptoms during pregnancy are quite common as you approach the birth of your child. This is because of the growing weight of the uterus on the bladder, blocking the flow of urine. Your doctor can provide antibiotics that are safe for both you and the baby to fight these infections.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions are also known as false labor. These contractions are the body’s way of preparing for labor. They are harmless as long as they disappear when you change your position.
These contractions usually occur on days when you have had some considerable exercise.
21 weeks pregnant ultrasound
Getting an ultrasound is a special moment because it means you can get to actually see and hear your baby while it’s still in you.
At this stage, you can see the bones that are developing. Your medical professional can also point out the eyelids which have formed.
If it's a girl, the vagina is now fully formed and will continue to develop till she comes out.
Also, the baby position at 21 weeks in the womb is still not definite. The baby is not yet big enough to fill out the uterus and assume a definite position.
21 weeks pregnant lifestyle
When you’re 21 weeks pregnant, you should be careful about the activities you engage in. At this point, your vulnerability is higher than before.
But that shouldn’t mean that you shut yourself away. You can still go for walks, have friends over, and do some light exercise. You should also sign up for some yoga as well as birthing classes.
Sex at week 21 of pregnancy
It is completely normal to crave for sex when you’re pregnant at 21 weeks. In fact, some women claim they are hornier during this period. This is mainly because of the increased blood flow to the pelvic region which increases sensitivity.
If you are to engage in intercourse, make sure you have the right protection to prevent sexually transmitted infections which can harm the fetus.
When the pregnancy is a complicated one, it’s advisable to forego sex at least until the baby is born.
21 weeks pregnant checklist
By this time, if you couldn't handle the suspense anymore, you know the sex of your child. You should, therefore, start planning their nursery.
You should also take extra care of yourself. This means you should do some light exercise so that you keep in shape.
With your heightened appetite, you should ensure that you eat nutritious foods that will keep both you and the baby healthy.
What to ask your doctor
At any time during your pregnancy, you are likely to experience some bleeding from your vagina. If it is just a few drops, it’s known as spotting. However, let your doctor know about it so that you can allay any fears.
About chills and fever
The doctor will run some tests to find out if you have an infection. Some women, especially if they were not immunized, can have a rubella infection. The virus causes fever and mild cold-like symptoms in a pregnant woman, but it can cause severe consequences in fetus.
Infection with rubella virus causes the most severe damage when the mother is infected early in pregnancy, especially in the first 12 weeks (first trimester).
Ask about abdominal pains and cramps
When you experience any abdominal cramps or pain, you should let your doctor know as soon as possible. It can be something serious that quickly needs attention.