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You are slowly getting closer to the day you meet your little bundle of joy. At the 21st week, you will be able to feel your baby more than usual. You will also begin to experience a few more symptoms, for which you will need some relief. Here is a list of suggestions and answers to any questions you might be having about your 21st week of pregnancy!
Your Baby’s Growth During Pregnancy – Week 21
At week 21, your little one will begin to taste his food, as the taste buds start to form. Even though the baby obtains nutrition by swallowing amniotic fluid, what you eat will flavour the fluid itself. Some studies have shown that babies prefer the same foods that their mothers ate during the pregnancy. In addition to taste, your baby now has his limbs proportionately developed, allowing for coordinated control over movements that you will start to experience as kicking or pushing. As the foetus is still rather small, you will be unable to tell which part of his body is pushing against your belly. Developing senses like sight and sound make your baby aware of your daily habits, and might even recognize your voice. Eyebrows, eyelashes, and eyelids have formed, although the irises have not got their colour in yet.
What Is the Baby’s Size?
At 21 weeks pregnant, the baby’s size is around 24 to 25 cm in length from head to toe, the same size as a large carrot. His weight is approximately 450 to 500 grams, and he is slowly pushing against your organs.
Common Body Changes
During the 21st week, there are some body changes during pregnancy that you will come to expect:
- Varicose Veins:
With your baby getting bigger, the veins in your legs experience more and more pressure. This is worsened by progesterone levels in your blood, leading to varicose veins.
- Stretch Marks:
Your tummy, thighs, hips, and buttocks will begin to bear the brunt of your expanding pregnancy bump. These stretch marks appear as dark streaks caused due to the tearing of the supportive tissue below the skin. The lighter skinned you are, the higher your chance of getting them. They usually don’t go away after birth, but do become a lot less visible. Do not worry or panic about them.
- Spider Veins:
Small veins with a radial pattern like tree branches might appear on feet, hands or face. Luckily, they usually go away after you give birth.
- Worse Acne:
The hormonal flux surging through your body will wreak havoc with the oil levels in your skin, leading to acne breakouts. However, do not use oral or topical acne medication as they may cause complications to you and the baby.
Symptoms of Pregnancy at Week 21
The symptoms you will experience during your 21st week might indicate how you will feel for the final trimester. Some of them are:
- Braxton Hicks Contractions: These are contractions experienced by your body even before labour, as a form of practice for the real event. If they begin to cause discomfort, contact your doctor immediately.
- Discharge from Breasts: Milk or yellowish colostrum will leak from your breasts, as the milk ducts are fully functional at this point. This is not painful. However, it might cause embarrassment, so carry around some tissues or wet wipes with you.
- Irritated Skin: Your stretched belly skin will tend to become drier than usual, and might even get chapped. The generous use of moisturizer should solve your problem.
- Cramps in Legs: This is a very common symptom, most likely caused due to your legs now carrying more weight than they are used to. Do stretching exercises or get leg massages for relief.
- Inflamed Gums: Your gums will be a lot more sensitive than usual, so take care to brush your teeth gently.
Belly at 21 Weeks of Pregnancy
21 weeks of carrying your baby around will put a strain on your entire body. As the belly continues to grow, you may find that the belly button turns flat or pop out in certain cases.
You will be around 5-6 kg heavier than usual. This includes the weight of the baby, amniotic fluid, placenta, uterus, increased blood and other fluids, fat and protein storage in the breasts, and so on. You could keep your uterine and pelvic muscles in tiptop shape by doing Kegel exercises.
21 Weeks Ultrasound
If you get your mid-pregnancy ultrasound scan this week, you will be able to see the intricate details of your baby’s body such as its heart chambers and brain hemispheres. Details of your little one’s limbs, sense organs, and hair will also be visible. You may also find out the sex of your foetus at this stage; however, doing so is illegal in India, to combat the rates of female foeticide.
At this stage, you must try to get the fetal echocardiography done to rule out any congenital heart diseases.
What to Eat
Your need for iron has never been higher than it is at this point, as you are producing a lot more red blood cells to supply your baby with whatever it needs. If your iron reserves fall low, you might become anaemic, which could lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and even loss of consciousness. The best 21st week pregnancy foods are those that are rich in iron such as spinach, red meat, leguminous veggies, and fish are recommended. Iron supplements are also often prescribed to deal with the situation.
Avoiding caffeine will enhance the absorption of iron, so cut down on those twice-daily espresso shots!
Consume foods with a lot of Vitamin C like lemons, grapes, watermelons, and chillis. If being overweight or obese is a problem, then changing your diet to include whole-grain foods, fruits, and vegetables, and avoiding processed food and refined sugar, should do the trick.
Above all else, remember to stay hydrated with at least 2 to 3 litres of water a day.
Tips & Care
You may need to learn how to deal with the most common issues such as heartburn, haemorrhoids, back-pain, and so on. Visit your doctor regularly to learn more about what you could do to protect yourself and your baby.
- Keep your leg muscles stretched and relaxed to avoid getting cramps. If necessary, visit a physiotherapist for help with the same.
- Talk or sing to your baby for at least a couple of hours every day. The baby will learn to recognize and grow attached to your voice. Playing the baby music will also help it rest better.
- Don’t forget your regular exercise, sleeping on the left side of your body, and keeping your lower limbs propped up.
- Pregnant women are strongly recommended to take vaccinations for whooping cough at this point, so don’t forget to ask your doctor for further advice.
What You Need to Shop For
The most important thing for you to spend some money on is maternity clothing. For sleepwear, you can opt for Bella Mama’s night suits which have a double layer and nursing access just below the panel. There’s also a pleat in the front which effectively provides ample space for the growing belly. Or you can even go for the 100% cotton nighties which can be worn post-pregnancy as well. These clothes are comfortable and supportive for someone in the middle of her pregnancy. There are several online stores to choose from. It might be a good idea to also invest in pregnancy books, maternity bras, and accessories for your baby’s room.
Early preparation for an effortless pregnancy and delivery is the key to reducing a lot of stress that comes with it!
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