You are 21 weeks pregnant, and your weight is steadily increasing. Everyone can now see that you are pregnant. Get ready for a barrage of advice and suggestions from friends, family, and even strangers. For many women, pregnancy can be an exercise in patience. Stay calm and enjoy this stage of your pregnancy. You are already past the early pregnancy symptoms, and the late pregnancy symptoms have yet to occur.
21 weeks pregnant
When you are 21 weeks pregnant, you are already past the halfway mark of your pregnancy. Your baby is the size of a carrot and has already developed a sense of touch. She can hear you now and the voices of people around you. You are now feeling more and more of your baby’s movements. Your baby is also getting into a pattern of waking and sleeping, and these may not match yours.
1. Itchy skin
Your belly may start feeling dry and itchy as it expands. Avoid hot baths or showers as they can dry your skin further. Use an unscented moisturizer to helps soothe the itch.
2. Skin changes
Hormonal changes can cause your pores to secrete extra oil. For some lucky women, this may make their skin look more radiant. For others, however, pregnancy hormones can lead to dark patches, acne, rashes, red veins on cheeks, and puffiness.
3. Increased appetite
As your morning sickness fades during the second trimester, your appetite increases. Your growing baby is demanding more nourishment now. Moms need only 350 more calories per day. Eat a nutritious diet and avoid junk food to keep your weight gain in check.
4. Stretch marks
As your skin stretches during pregnancy, tiny tears appear beneath the surface of your skin. Though there is no way to get rid of stretch marks, they do slowly fade after you have delivered.
As your uterus expands, it shifts your center of gravity and puts more strain on your back. In addition to this, a hormone called relaxin causes the ligaments of joints to loosen, which puts additional stress on the muscles of our back. Improve your posture and stand and stretch whenever possible.
6. Fast-growing hair and nails
You may have noticed that your hair and nails are growing at record speed these days. An increase in blood circulation and pregnancy hormones bring extra nutrition to your hair and nails and cause this spurt in growth.
7. Leaking breasts
It is pretty normal for breasts to leak during pregnancy. Your breasts are now producing colostrum, thick creamy milk that your breasts make before producing breast milk.
8. Braxton Hicks contractions
At this stage, you may feel tightening of your belly that goes away after some time or after you change your position. These are Braxton Hicks contractions, which help to tone the uterine muscles. They are your uterus’s way of preparing for the real thing.
Your expanding uterus can put extra pressure on your stomach and intestines, which can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Avoid spicy and greasy foods and eat smaller meals and snacks.
Your body at week 21 of pregnancy
By the time you reach 21 weeks, you may have already gained around 14 pounds. Your bump is getting bigger rapidly, and you will now be able to feel the top of your uterus about a half-inch above your belly button. You may also notice that by the end of the day, your legs and feet swell.
Pregnancy hormones and changes in metabolism can lead to hot flashes. Drink lots of water, wear comfortable clothes and stay cool. As your center of gravity changes and your joints become loose, you may be feeling clumsier. Do not panic if you fall. There is a lot of cushioning around your baby to protect her. You can also get yourself checked by your health care provider for your peace of mind.
Your baby at week 21 of pregnancy
Your baby is now 8.5 inches long and weighs 12 ounces.
- Your baby’s heartbeat is now loud enough to be heard through a stethoscope.
- She is now starting to sleep and wake up in regular cycles.
- While your baby continues to get her nutrients from your placenta, her intestines have now developed to start absorbing nutrients from the amniotic fluid she is swallowing.
- Your baby’s eyebrows have grown, but her irises still lack pigment.
- Your baby’s eyelids are developing this week.
- Your baby’s brain is growing well.
Tips to be followed when you are 21 weeks pregnant
Research shows that it is best to sleep on your side during pregnancy (1). Sleeping on your left side helps to pump more nutrients to your placenta and your baby. You can be more comfortable in this position if you put a pillow under your top leg.
2. Take off your rings
As your pregnancy progresses, you may develop swelling in your fingers. Take off your rings before they become too snug and difficult to take off. As an alternative, you can wear them on a chain.
Chronic high levels of stress can have an adverse effect on your pregnancy. Sleep well, exercise regularly and take time to unwind.
4. Avoid empty calories
Eat enough of the right kind of calories to ensure that your baby is nourished. Avoid empty calories from sodas and junk food.
5. Add vitamin B to your diet
B vitamins, including B1, B2, and B6, are essential for your baby’s development. They promote good vision and help to build body tissues and the placenta. Take a prenatal supplement that contains B vitamins. Eat food rich in B vitamins include liver, pork, poultry, bananas, and beans.
6. Maintain your balance
As your center of gravity shifts, you may start feeling a bit off balance. To avoid the risk of falling, start wearing flat shoes, be careful on stairs and slippery surfaces.
Pregnancy hormones and extra blood flow can lead to swelling in your legs and feet. You can prevent this or lessen this by eating food rich in potassium. Bananas, sweet potatoes, lima beans, bok choy, and spinach are rich in potassium.
Your week 21 of pregnancy doctor’s visit
From weeks 13 to week 28, you will meet your doctor every four weeks. This appointment gives you the chance to talk to your doctor about your health and physical and mental well being. During this visit, your doctor will –
- Ask you about your health
- Check your blood pressure
- Check your weight and urine
- Check your baby’s growth
- Listen to your baby’s heartbeat
Talk to you about whether you need a blood test to check for gestational diabetes
- Ask you about your baby’s movements
- If you haven’t had your week 20 ultrasound scan, it may be done this week
Tips for your partner
Your baby’s kicks are getting stronger. Put your hand on your partner’s stomach, and you may be lucky enough to feel them too. Urinary tract infection is common during pregnancy. Sexual intercourse during pregnancy can cause bacteria to get inside the urinary tract. Shower before any sexual contact to prevent UTI in your partner (2).
Your baby continues to grow and mature during the 21st week of pregnancy. In addition to your growing belly and weight, you will experience many other physical symptoms. These include itchy skin, increased appetite, backache, Braxton Hicks contractions, and faster-growing hair and nails. Eat a nutritious diet, add food rich in iron, potassium, and B vitamins to your diet, lower your stress levels, and start sleeping on your side.