20 Weeks Pregnant – Your Body, Baby’s Development, and Tips

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the halfway mark in your pregnancy. You will know whether you are having a boy or a girl this week.  It’s time to start thinking about baby names. Your bump will grow by half an inch from now on. You may feel clumsier as your bump grows. Learn what is happening inside your body and how your baby is developing during the 20th week of pregnancy.

20 weeks pregnant

When you are 20 weeks pregnant, your uterus has grown to almost three times its original size. The top of your uterus is now even with your belly button. You may have already gained between 8 to 10 pounds and are now expected to gain between half a pound to one pound per week during the rest of your pregnancy. While this may not be a tough task considering your growing appetite, it is recommended that you stick to a healthy diet. Eat five small meals and snacks a day to avoid heartburn and indigestion.

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Symptoms

1. Shortness of breath

Feeling breathless is common during pregnancy. As your womb expands, it starts to push against the lungs, causing shortness of breath. Take rest if you feel breathless.

2. Edema

Milk swelling is normal and will subside after delivery. If swelling in your ankles and feet are causing you pain, wear comfortable shoes. Put your feet up whenever possible. Avoid tight socks and pantyhose.

3. Changes in the belly button

As your growing uterus puss your abdomen forward, your innie belly butter may turn into an outie. Don’t worry; your navel will go back to normal after delivery.

4. Leg cramps

Leg cramps are caused by compressed blood vessels in the legs. Do stretches regularly, put your feet up, and stay hydrated to prevent leg cramps (1).

5. Vaginal discharge

You may notice increased vaginal discharge due to the increase in pregnancy hormones in the body. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal and should not cause any worry. However, if the discharge is green, yellow, or smells foul, contact your doctor.

6. Headaches

You may find that you are prone to headaches now, especially if you are sitting in hot and stuffy spaces. You may also start feeling faint or dizzy in such surroundings. Take in fresh air whenever you can and dress in comfortable clothes to avoid getting too hot.

7. Indigestion and heartburn

Your digestive system is now not working as effectively as it did earlier. Avoid eating spicy and acidic food. You can chew sugarless gum after your meals. The increased saliva neutralizes the gastric acid and forces it back into the stomach.

8. Heat rash

Your body temperature is a bit higher than usual, and you may be sweating more. You may develop a rash under your breasts, in your armpits or between your legs. Wear light and comfortable cotton clothes.

9. Chloasma

Around 50 to 75 percent of all pregnant women develop dark pigmentation on their nose, forehead, or cheeks. Also known as the butterfly mask, it forms a pattern of a butterfly’s body over the nose and butterfly’s wings over the cheek. It goes away after delivery (2).

Your body at week 20 of pregnancy

The uterus is growing, and the top of your uterus is now at level with your navel. Your placenta is also growing and will treble in size by the time of your birth. You may even start experiencing false labor pains known as Braxton Hicks contractions as your body starts preparations for delivery. These contractions are usually mild and are not a cause for concern.

Though your breasts are less sensitive during the second trimester, they will continue to grow as your milk glands grow and fat deposits increase. You nipples darken, and small white bumps appear on them. These are glands of Montgomery, and they produce oil that prevents the nipples from drying out. Your nipples may also start leaking a yellowish fluid called colostrum. This is the first form of milk that your baby will consume. It is rich in essential nutrients and antibodies.

Your baby at week 20 of pregnancy

Your baby is now 7.75 inches long and weighs around 9 ounces.  His skin is covered with vernix, a substance that protects the skin from the amniotic fluid. The slipperiness of vernix also helps your baby make his way out of the birth canal.

  • Your baby is getting bigger and stronger. You can now feel his punches and kicks.
  • Besides kicking and other movements, you may also feel the rhythmic movements of your baby’s hiccups during this week.
  • His cartilage is turning into bones. As the skeleton hardens, his bone marrow will start making blood cells.
  • Your baby’s arms and legs are now in proportion to his body.
  • If you’re having a girl, her uterus is developing, and her ovaries already have seven million primitive eggs in them.
  • If you’re having a baby boy, his testes will start lowering from his abdomen this week.
  • Your baby’s taste buds are developing now, as are his swallowing skills.

Tips to be followed when you are 20 weeks pregnant

1. Eat healthy foods

Your appetite is growing, and so are your cravings. But this does not mean that you can eat as much of anything you want. Eat healthy food, especially foods rich in iron accompanied with food rich in vitamin C. Though all pregnant women are susceptible to develop anemia, women who have had a recent pregnancy or are carrying multiple fetuses are more at risk.

2. Plan a trip

Your second trimester is the right time to plan a trip. Your symptoms are not as intense, and you are still not so big that it becomes uncomfortable to travel. Check with your airlines about their travel policies for pregnant women before you book your tickets.

3. Do Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises help to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, the muscles of your vagina, urethra, and anus. They help to prepare you for delivery (3).

4. Protect your back

Backache and back strain are common during pregnancy. Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you find that you have strained your back, warm shower, massage, and heat packs can help. Consult your doctor.

5. Book your prenatal classes

Prenatal classes often fill up early, so book your lessons now. These classes help you to understand what goes on in the delivery room. They offer information so that you can make an informed decision. Even if you have had a baby before, think of these as a refresher course.

Your pregnancy week 20 doctor’s visit

Many women will have their anomaly scan this week. The ultrasound technician will scan your baby’s body to make sure everything is growing at the right pace for his gestational age. He will also check the health and position of the placenta and measure your amniotic fluid. If you want to know if you’re having a boy or a girl, now is the time.  This scan takes about 30 to 40 minutes, and you are supposed to arrive with a full bladder.

Your healthcare provider will also measure the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus to measure your fundal height. Braxton hicks contractions are mild, and you need not worry about them. However, intense, painful, and regular contractions can be an indication of pre-term labor. Contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will monitor the contractions and may also suggest bed rest.

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Tips for your partner

Your partner may be feeling several symptoms, including headaches, swollen feet, backache, indigestion, and heartburn these days. Try to take away the stress in her life so that she is more relaxed. Share the housework and give her time to rest. Help her with the heavy lifting so that she does not damage her back.

Final thoughts

You have now seen your baby on the ultrasound and can feel his kicks now. You know the sex of your baby, and you’re all excited. You may also be feeling some symptoms like headaches, swollen feet, and headaches. Eat healthy food, do kegel exercises, and protect your back. Book your prenatal classes now.

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