Pregnancy Calendar Week 21
YOUR PREGNANCY WEEK BY WEEK: WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WEEK 21A cantaloupe—that’s how big your baby is now! Weighing in at about 10-13 ounces and at about 6-7 inches long, she continues to develop fast as she prepares to join you outside of the womb. You’re getting bigger these days and probably seeing lots of smiles from passersby who notice your little baby bump. Naturally, pregnancy doesn’t disappoint when it comes to adding to the ever-growing list of symptoms you may be suffering from. Take heart, though; you’re getting closer to the end and we’re here to help you make it across the finish line.Your BodyAt 21 weeks pregnant, you’ve probably joined the ranks of most expecting mothers who experience a couple of classic, common pregnancy-induced symptoms.Anxiety and StressPregnancy is certainly no walk in the park, so it’s very natural for you to feel a fair amount of anxiety and stress—especially now with the birth of your little one just a few short months away.After all, you’re about to bring a new person into the world. While that’s incredibly exciting and joyful on one hand, it’s a little scary, too. Your entire world is about to change soon. In addition to all of the concerns you may have about the health and well-being of your baby, you’re undoubtedly trying to get a handle on how motherhood is going to affect your life and your relationships.If you’re agonizing with a lot of anxiety, you’ll want to give this some attention as soon as possible. A high level of daily stress increases your chances of delivering a pre-term, low-weight baby.There’s a lot you can do to ease your emotional burden. Try starting with these tips:
- Reduce commitments and create more time in your schedule for stress-busting activities like more rest, relaxation, exercise, stretching, meditation and guided imagery, which may be an effective stress management technique for you.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to give you the nourishment your body needs to fight stress and keep your energy and mood levels up.
- Cut back on chores. Taking care of everything around the house, doing errands, cooking and cleaning can add to your stress. Drop as many of these as you can from your daily routine by getting help from your partner, your friends/family or by hiring a cleaning service to help lighten your load.
- Turn in earlier each night. Your body is working overtime for you and your baby right now, so it needs more quality sleep.
- If you work, try to take more time off. Arranging a different work schedule that gives you more free time can make a world of difference.
- Join a pregnancy support group to connect and share with others going through exactly what you’re experiencing.
- Get professional counseling. If you feel like you might blow up at any moment, ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist who helps pregnant women. Coping better with severe stress may mean that you need the kind of one-to-one conversations and advice that only a trained counselor can provide.
Remember, taking care of your emotional health shouldn’t be thought of as being selfish or lazy. There’s a proven mind-body connection that makes relieving anxiety and stress an essential part of your healthy pregnancy.Hot FlashesYour hormones are at it again! This time they’ve got you feeling all hot and bothered with hot flashes that can make it quite a challenge to feel comfortable.Caused by hormone fluctuations, particularly dips in your estrogen level, hot flashes give you that intense feeling of warmth in your upper body and face, accompanied many times with a rapid heartbeat, sweating, flushed skin and annoying chill spells after they subside.Hot flashes come and go, usually within a few minutes, and they’re totally harmless. But, it’s important to recognize whether you’re experiencing a hot flash or if you’ve got a fever. A high fever could be dangerous during your pregnancy because it may be a sign of infection.To help cool those hot flashes off, wear outfits with layers so you can peel them away whenever a hot flash strikes. They’ll eventually taper off, but keep in mind that many mothers report experiencing hot flashes for a period of time after their pregnancy, too.If your hot flashes are disrupting your daily life—or if you’ve actually got a high fever instead of a hot flash—talk with your doctor right away to discuss treatment options.Your BabyIn the 21st week of pregnancy, here’s a look at what your baby is up to:Your baby’s taste buds are forming.Back in week 19, we covered how your baby has begun to gulp up increasing amounts of amniotic fluid, getting tiny tastes of what you eat. Well, this week, his taste buds are operating in full force as they’ve become fine-tuned and highly-developed. So, now throughout the rest of your pregnancy, be sure to eat plenty of broccoli and all the other healthy foods you want your sweet little bundle of joy to eat when she gets here. Research tells us that babies who experienced certain tastes in utero come to prefer those tastes after they’re born.Your baby has white hair on her head.Are you surprised to know that your baby’s first head of hair looks like a lot like her grandma’s? That’s right—it’s white! At this stage of development, the hair she’s sprouting on her head doesn’t have pigment yet, so it’s a shade of bright white. Over the next few weeks, she’ll start adding pigment to her hair. But, keep in mind that some babies aren’t born with hair or, if they are, the hair color can change over time.Your baby’s sleep and wake cycles are forming.Are you noticing that your baby seems to be more active during certain times of the day and not so much in others? You probably are because around this midpoint of your pregnancy your little one is developing a sleep and wake cycle. So, if your baby tends to slumber during the day and becomes a busy bee at night, you just might have a night owl on your hands once she arrives. That’s really just a tale that sleep experts say can’t be backed up by research. But, some mothers do report that their babies’ sleep cycles in the womb mirror those once they’re born.Diet and Exercise Tips You Should FollowTo keep you and your baby healthy, follow these tips in week 21:
- Eat plenty of vegetables. Are you getting enough vegetables in your diet? They’re packed with essential nutrients you and your developing baby need, so be sure you’re getting in 4 or more servings daily. Carrots, dark leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower are great options.
- Stretching will help you manage stress. You can better manage stress and anxiety with stretching, which also helps you go to full term and aids your baby’s continued growth in this second half of your pregnancy. Relax tonight and do some stretching in bed. Make this a new nightly habit to help increase blood flow to your baby and get a better night’s rest.
Things You Should Do
- Your baby can hear now, so play soothing music, talk and read to the child inside you. These are good ways for you to manage stress. What’s good and healthy for you is good and healthy for your baby.
- Schedule your glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes (to be scheduled between weeks 24-28).
Words You Should KnowCerclage: Stitches placed in a weak cervix to hold it closed to help prevent premature delivery.Lamaze Classes: Classes that teach an alternative to the use of medical intervention during childbirth. The Lamaze technique helps pregnant women learn how to cope with pain in ways that both facilitate labor and promote comfort, including breathing, movement and massage.Placental Abruption: Premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall.Preterm Labor: Labor that begins after 20 weeks but before the end of the 37th week.