20 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect

20 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect

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At 20 weeks pregnant, you’re halfway through your pregnancy and five months along. Your baby is big enough to move or push in your belly and your belly is now a bump. Your uterus has enough space to allow your baby to move and dance around. You may have felt your baby moving, letting you know his presence. Want to know more about how your baby is developing at week 20 of pregnancy? Read on!

Your Baby’s Growth at 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

If it’s a girl in your womb, her uterus will have fully formed by 20 weeks, with millions of eggs already in production. If it is a boy, his testicles will begin to descend out of his abdomen with the process finishing in a couple of weeks. Your baby may have begun to swallow more, allowing the digestive system to get some much-needed experience. This is the time when babies begin to produce stool, a black gooey substance known as meconium, which will collect in their bowels. The milk teeth are present at this point, and the permanent teeth are beginning to form as well. As the baby is perennially suspended in amniotic fluid, it tends to be covered with an oily substance called vernix, which protects its skin from cracking.

What is the Size of the Baby?

At 20 weeks pregnant, the baby will be 16-17 centimetres from top to bottom, weighing approximately 300 grams. Until this point, fetuses are measured from crown to rump, as their legs are tightly wound against their upper bodies. However, at 20th week, it becomes easier to find out the size from head to toe.

Common Bodily Changes

Common Bodily Changes

At the 20th week of your pregnancy, you may experience the following bodily changes. Some of these changes can be downright uncomfortable for you.

  • You may experience oedema: Oedema is common during pregnancy. Your feet may swell up due to water retention during pregnancy.
  • You may snore: The increase in estrogen causes the inner membrane of the nose to swell up, which may lead to snoring.
  • Your pregnancy bump will be noticeable: At the 20th week, your pregnancy bump will be noticeable. Your growing baby will make his presence felt.
  • Your hair and nail will grow fast: The hormones coursing through your veins also promote the growth of hair and nails. So, expect your nails and hair to grow faster.
  • Expect vaginal secretions: Your vagina will start producing a larger amount of discharge as a means to keep the groin area protected against harmful bacteria, so be prepared to deal with it.

Symptoms of Pregnancy at Week 20

Reaching this point in pregnancy is a wonderful accomplishment, except for some problems that may accompany it. In addition to the changes happening in your body, there are a few more symptoms you will experience:

  • Extreme energy: The hormones in your body will give a boost to your energy levels as well as your sex drive.
  • Difficulty in breathing: As the foetus grows, the uterus exerts pressure on the lungs, forcing you to expend more effort to take breaths.
  • Indigestion and heartburn: These problems occur as the foetus pushes around the digestive system making it difficult for you to have a good night’s sleep.

While mild to moderate headaches are consistent with hormone fluctuations during pregnancy, if you find yourself having severe headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, vision problems or swelling of the extremities it is advisable to call your doctor as soon as possible, as this might indicate preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Belly at 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

Belly at 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

At the 20th week mark, your uterus is parallel to your navel and is around 18-24 cm in diameter. It will continue to push outwards by about 1-2 cm every week. As this causes stress on the joints and ligaments, the doctor might prescribe you a hormone called relaxin which alleviates this stress. If you experience pain in the pelvic or pubic region, notify your doctor as it could be symptomatic of larger problems.

Ultrasound Scan at 20 Weeks

Ultrasound Scan at 20 Weeks

This is the right time to have your mid-pregnancy ultrasound scan. The level of detail you will see in this scan is unbelievable, which include the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys. You will also be able to see your baby’s fingers, toes, nails, hair, ears, eyes, and nose. This is also when the sex of the baby can be determined, although it has to be noted that the procedure is illegal in India. The ultrasound this week will also be able to locate the position of the placenta in order to check if it is blocking the cervix. If it is, there is no reason to worry as uterine growth generally tends to pull the placenta back toward itself.

What to Eat

With your uterus, placenta, and foetus rapidly growing in size, iron is one of the primary requirements of your body. Iron is essential in making blood, so consuming enough of it is very important. The best sources are red and white meat, but for vegetarians options such as beans peas, soybeans, and spinach will suffice.

As your baby’s bones will get stronger and thicker, make sure you consume enough calcium as well. Dairy foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt and veggies like leafy greens, spinach and beans are rich in calcium. So include them in your diet after checking with your gynaecologist and nutritionist.

If necessary, you can ask your doctor to prescribe a vitamin or mineral tablet to supplement your nutrition. To stave off indigestion and heartburn, try eating smaller meals multiple times a day rather than a few large ones.

Care Tips

There are a few things to do, and a few to avoid during your 20th week of pregnancy:

Dos

  • Make sure your already swollen feet don’t have to suffer by wearing flat-soled comfortable shoes. Avoid high heels or any shoes that are too tight.
  • Visit a physiotherapist often. He/she can suggest exercises as well as help you manage severe back, rib or pelvic pain that comes with pregnancy.

Don’ts

  • Under no circumstances must you lift heavy weights, but if you must do so, lift while bending your knees.
  • Don’t stand on one leg more than the other. Use your abdominal muscles to support your back and stand up straight.
  • Try not to sit down without supporting your back with a cushion or pad.

What You Need to Shop For

At this point, it is time for you to shop for baby carriers that you can carry your little one in. It is also a good idea to start looking for some stylish maternity dresses for your changing body. For convenient everyday dressing, opt for maternity panties that offer support to your abdominal area and lower back. These easily stretch to fit the growing belly during pregnancy and can even be worn after pregnancy. For nursing bras, go for Bella Mama’s nursing bras that are made of comfortable stretchable material and have adjustable shoulder straps. These, too, are perfect to use during and after pregnancy. Sign up for antenatal classes to help learn how to care for your child right now, as the good ones tend to have a long waiting list.

With the right precautions and preparations, pregnancy can be more about enjoying the impending birth of the baby and less about the pain and problems that come with it.

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