You are in your 21st week of pregnancy now and that means you are more than half way there! Your baby is growing by the minute and becoming more active every day. You are experiencing some changes too and you may find that your skin is behaving as it was in your teenage years.
Your Baby this Week
Your baby is now around the size of a banana, or about 26cm (10.5 inches) (now measured from head to toe) and weighs in around 360 grammes (13oz).
As your baby’s weight increases, so does her fat accumulation. Through most of the pregnancy, the fine layer of hair (called lanugo) that recently formed all over your baby does the job of regulating temperature. As fat is accumulated, this layer of hair begins to fall off and the fat takes over the job of regulating your baby’s temperature.
If it is not already happening, you will soon wonder if your baby is doing karate inside your womb as kicks and punches become a normal part of your day. Additionally, your baby’s movements will now become more scheduled and you will start to see that there is a pattern. Perhaps the mornings will be more active that the evenings, or after you eat you might feel your baby move in a particular way that is different from other movements throughout the day.
At 21 weeks gestation, your baby will actually begin to sleep. Yes, your baby sleeps in the womb! You might be surprised to learn that, eventually, your baby will even have rapid eye movement, or REM, during sleep. Researchers do not know if this means that your unborn baby is capable of dreaming, but the possibility is certainly intriguing.
Another development in this 21st week of pregnancy is that your baby’s skin is now starting to become less translucent and will continue to do so until birth. Although fingernails and toenails are formed, they are not yet hardened. This protects your baby from scratching her skin or the amniotic sac while in the womb.
Your Body this Week
At 21 weeks, you are probably showing a little - not too much yet, but it is still enough to make your clothes feel tight. You may even have started to wear maternity clothes by now. Additionally, you are probably feeling pretty good. The nausea and other early pregnancy symptoms have mostly gone away, and you have more energy these days.
To add to that, you are getting extremely excited to welcome your baby into the world. Make sure that you enjoy this time in your pregnancy because the third trimester is right around the corner and will likely bring on some new aches and pains.
For now, there may be some minor body issues to contend with, such as acne. Yes, ‘acne’, just like you had when you were a teenager! Your hormone levels will increase the production of oil in your glands which can lead to breakouts. If you don’t already have a daily skin cleansing routine, start one now to keep the acne at bay.
Do not use any acne treatment, even over the counter treatments, until you clear it with your doctor. Some of the ingredients in these products can be harmful to your unborn baby.
Spider veins may also show up as you gain weight throughout your pregnancy. A spider vein is a group of tiny blood vessels that show up close to the surface o f your skin. They will usually appear on the legs, face, or ankles. During pregnancy, these spider veins are cause by the increased amount of blood that is circulating in your body. They are harmless and mostly go away after delivery.
Another not so attractive symptom of pregnancy is varicose veins. There is not a lot that you can do about them once they are there, but you can minimize or prevent them by getting daily exercise, elevating your feet and legs when you can, wear maternity hose or support hose, and sleep on your left side which is known to help blood flow during pregnancy.