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Your Baby at Week 21
Baby’s Moving and Sleeping
How big is your baby?
Switching from crown-to-rump to crown-to-heel length, she’s 10-and-a-half inches long and weighs 11 to 12-and-a-half ounces, about the size of a large banana.
Your developing baby still has a great deal of room in your womb — though like anyone who lives in one space for a long time, this tenant will soon begin to feel cramped.
Until those uterine walls start closing in, however, there’s plenty of space for twisting, turning and even an occasional somersault (so that’s what you were feeling last night!).
With all that belly dancing going on, it’s hard to believe your baby is getting any shut-eye at all.
But believe it or not, your fetus sleeps as much as a newborn.
(Now if only you could get some sleep yourself!)
21 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
If you’re 21 weeks pregnant, you’re in month 5 of your pregnancy.
Only 4 months left to go! Still have questions? Here’s some more information on how weeks, months and trimesters are broken down in pregnancy.
Baby’s Taste Buds Develop
Speaking of carrots, if you eat one this week, there’s a good chance your baby will taste it too.
That’s because when you’re 21 weeks pregnant, your baby swallows a bit of amniotic fluid each day — not only for nutrition and hydration, but also to practice swallowing and digesting, skills he’ll need as soon as he arrives in your arms.
And keep this in mind: The taste of the amniotic fluid differs from day to day depending on what you’ve eaten (spicy enchilada one day, sweet banana the next).
That smorgasbord of flavors won’t be lost on your baby since your little one has very developed taste buds already.
In fact, researchers have noted that babies who were exposed to certain tastes in utero via the amniotic fluid were more eager to eat foods with those same tastes after birth.
Want your peanut to eat his broccoli later? Eat yours now!
Baby’s Getting Coordinated
Your little action figure is able to choreograph Matrix-like moves at 21 weeks pregnant.
Arms and legs are finally in proportion, neurons are now connected between the brain and muscles and cartilage throughout the body is turning to bone.
All these upgrades combine to give your baby more control over limb movements, which explains all that kicking, stretching and bodysurfing (or rather bellysurfing) you may have started feeling.
Your Body at Week 21
At 21 weeks pregnant, your baby might be starting to leave his or her mark — in the form of stretch marks, that is — all over your stomach, butt, thighs, hips and breasts.
These pink, red or purple streaks appear as your body expands and your tummy and breasts just keep on growing:
The supporting tissue under your skin gets torn as the skin stretches.
Only about one in two women gets them, though you’re a likely candidate if your mom had stretch marks during her pregnancy.
Darker-skinned women are less likely to get them (plus, they’re not as visible on dark skin), while fair-skinned gals are usually less lucky. Rapid weight gain can also predispose you to getting stretch marks — another good reason to add your pounds slowly and steadily (at an average of about a pound a week these days).
Unfortunately, there’s no proven way to prevent stretch marks from zigzagging their way across your body (though there’s no harm in applying moisturizers like cocoa butter;
if nothing else, it will prevent the dryness and itching associated with pregnancy-stretched skin).
Is there any good news? Here’s something: They won’t stay so vividly hued forever.
After delivery, they usually fade to a less noticeable silvery-gray color.
Now that you’re starting to look pregnant (and not just like you were spending too much time with the Ben & Jerry’s) and those kicks can no longer be mistaken for gas, the reality of pregnancy is probably beginning to sink in.
And with it, you may find, a few ambivalent or anxious feelings you’re even ambivalent about admitting (Me a mom? There must be some mistake!).
Don’t worry — and hang on. At some point in pregnancy (and usually once that pregnancy becomes a very visible reality) just about every expectant mother (and father!)
begins to feel anxiety and fear as though she’s on a runaway train — with enormous changes coming round the bend.
And not only is it completely normal to feel anxious, it’s especially healthy to acknowledge it.
Talk your feelings over with your friends who’ve had babies — they’ll reassure you that they experienced the same kind of thoughts.
Most important, discuss your fears with your partner, who’s probably just as in need of a good heart-to-heart.
21 WEEKS PREGNANT
Pressure’s on! Have you found the perfect baby name yet?
It seems like parents-to-be either come up with baby’s name quickly and easily, or agonize over it all the way up until the birth.
If you haven’t picked that perfect name yet, check out The Bump’s extensive lists of baby names of all sorts; cool names, beautiful names, hipster names, and much more. Whatever name you choose, you’ll probably think it’s even more perfect once you get to know (and fall in love with) your future little bundle of joy.
At 21 weeks pregnant, you’re not just choosing a name, you’re hard at work getting your home ready too.
Of course, things like baby bouncers and changing table pads can be tough to choose, but try not to stress about it at week 21 of pregnancy.
Trust us, baby won’t care if you pick out a pack ‘n play that clashes with the area rug!
How Big Is Baby at 21 Weeks?
At 21 weeks pregnant, baby is as big as a head of endive.
At 10.5 inches and about 12.7 ounces, baby’s big enough now that you’ve probably been feeling his or her fetal movements more and more lately.
21 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?
21 weeks pregnant is 4 months and about three weeks.
Now that you’re more than halfway done with month five, you’re a majority of the way through your pregnancy!
21 WEEKS PREGNANT SYMPTOMS
Common 21 weeks pregnant symptoms are kind of like a sneak preview of the third trimester.
Here’s what you might be feeling at week 21 of pregnancy:
Heartburn and/or indigestion.
Avoid spicy and greasy foods and other triggers.
If the source of your discomfort is a mystery, keeping a food diary could help you figure it out.
Braxton Hicks contractions. Your uterus might occasionally feel tight as it practices for labor.
This is totally normal as long as the contractions go away when you switch positions. Let your doctor know about any pain or contractions that don’t stop.
Leaky boobs. Your milk ducts will be fully developed by the end of this trimester—just in case of an early arrival.
Dry, itchy skin.
Your skin is stretching over your growing bump, making it more irritated by the day.
Lather up with a pregnancy-safe body oil or lotion to help your skin stay moisturized and hopefully less itchy.
Also, if you develop a rash, let your doctor know right away, since that could be a sign of an annoying pregnancy condition called PUPPP.
Your skin gets pulled thinner as baby grows, causing tiny tears beneath the surface of your skin.
Stretch marks are more common for some women simply because of family history, or because of sudden weight gain.
They are also more common in women who are 21 weeks pregnant with twins.
There’s no way to truly get rid of stretch marks, but they should fade significantly after birth.
21 WEEKS PREGNANT BELLY
This week, you may look in the mirror and wonder, “Where did I go?!”
By the time you reach 21 weeks pregnant, you may have gained around 13 to 14 pounds, and around 21 pounds if you’re 21 weeks pregnant with twins.
Your newfound curves might have you feeling super sexy and confident—after all, you’re the center of attention wherever you go!
But the extra weight also might have you feeling… fat. (You’re not—you’re pregnant!)
Remind yourself, you’re supposed to be gaining this weight! It’s good for you and for baby.
In fact, all the weight you gain during pregnancy isn’t just padding for baby—it all serves a really important purpose. Here’s a logical way to think of it:
Of the approximately 30 pounds you’ll gain throughout your pregnancy, there’s a whole lot more than fat. Here’s what makes up that weight:
An average full-term baby = 7.5 pounds
Placenta = 1.5 pounds
Uterus = 2 pounds
Amniotic fluid = 2 pounds
Maternal stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients (needed for breastfeeding!) = 7 pounds
Breast tissue (also for BFing, of course) = 2 pounds
Increased fluid volume = 4 pounds
Increased blood volume = 4 pounds
See? All those pounds are doing a lot of good, keeping baby alive and healthy—and storing up good stuff to nourish him or her after birth.
Any time you’re feeling a little meh about your body, think of all the amazing things it’s doing!
Now, at 21 weeks, fetal movement is noticeable—and baby has reflexes too!
If you gently press your palm on your belly, you might feel a little push back. So cool!
21 WEEKS PREGNANT ULTRASOUND
Wondering what’s going on with your 21-week fetus?
As baby’s digestive system preps for the outside world, he or she’s manufacturing meconium—the tarry black substance you’ll find in the first dirty diaper.
Bet you hadn’t even thought about future grandchildren yet, but the reproductive system is developing too.
If it’s a girl, she’s already got a lifetime supply of eggs in her womb—about six million of them!
Having a boy? His testes are still located in his abdomen but will drop in the coming weeks once the scrotum finishes developing.
You’ll get a glimpse of that cute little 21-week fetus if you have your mid-pregnancy ultrasound this week.
This 21 weeks ultrasound will amaze you! Not only will you get to see baby on the screen, you’ll also get to see some awesome details like the brain hemispheres and chambers of the heart.
Let your technician know whether or not you want to know baby’s gender.
Finding out whether it’s a boy or a girl is a pretty exciting moment! But you can also save that moment for later if you want.
Some parents-to-be wait until baby’s born to know the sex.
Or you could ask the technician to write down baby’s gender and put it in an envelope so you can take it home.
Then, you could plan a gender reveal party, where you can find out the surprise while surrounded by your family and friends. Fun!
Ask for lots of printouts of the pictures, because if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, this may be the last medical ultrasound you’ll get during pregnancy.
Now go show off those photos of your cutie! And keep brainstorming those names!
21 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby’s Development
Heart throb. Your baby’s heartbeat is now loud enough to be heard through a simple stethoscope, but the beat can be difficult to distinguish from your own.
Listen for the faster rhythm — a baby’s heartbeat is 120 to 160 beats per minute, about twice as fast as yours.
Many women think it sounds like galloping horses.
Baby sleep cycles. Your baby is already starting to sleep and wake in subtle cycles.
Ultrasounds show that unborn babies may even settle into a favorite sleeping position.
Fingers and toes. Around 21 weeks, your little one’s fingers and toes are completely formed, complete with little fingerprints and toe prints.
She may even start sucking on her thumb.
Mom’s Body at 21 Weeks
So, when you get to 21 weeks pregnant, how many months along are you?
At 21 weeks, you’re entering month six of pregnancy.
You may have had some heartburn and indigestion earlier in the first trimester, but as your uterus gets larger, it may start pushing up against your stomach. This can cause you to have heartburn more frequently.
Around this time, your pregnancy hormones may also cause hot flashes, and the extra weight can cause some aches and pains during the coming weeks.
21 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms
Backaches, especially in the lower back, are quite common during pregnancy.
When you are 21 weeks pregnant, your growing belly is shifting your center of gravity and pulling your lower back forward.
Meanwhile, the hormone relaxin is loosening every joint and ligament in your body, which will allow your pelvis to expand when it’s time for delivery
Heartburn. Around this week, it’s normal to experience heartburn.
In addition to the uterus pushing against your stomach, pregnancy hormones relax the valve between your esophagus and stomach, causing some stomach acid to leak into the esophagus.
Hot flashes. Your pregnancy hormones and your increased metabolism can leave you feeling hot and sweaty.
Make sure you stay cool by wearing loose clothing and drinking plenty of water.
Switch on a fan or crank up the air conditioning, and try to stay as comfortable as possible.
As your belly grows during your pregnancy, you may notice some reddish-brown, pink, or purple lines on your skin.
Stretch marks form when your skin stretches over a short period of time and can appear along your belly, hips, thighs, buttocks, and breasts.
Your skin may start to feel itchy, too; applying moisturizer should help.
If you feel any cramping in your legs, don’t worry; this a common complaint from moms in the second trimester.
You may notice that cramps tend to strike more at night.
Try to stretch your calf muscles before bed, drink plenty of water, or have a warm bath or shower to help ease the discomfort or prevent cramping altogether.
21 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider
Back savers. To help alleviate back pain, make these adjustments in your daily routine.
Whenever you sit, use a footrest to elevate your feet slightly.
If you need to stand for a long period of time, put one foot on a small stool to take some pressure off your lower back.
Treat yourself to a warm bath for additional relief.
If your backache won’t go away, give your healthcare provider a call.
B vitamin boost. The B vitamins, including B1, B2, and B6, are key nutrients because they supply energy for your baby’s development.
They also help promote good vision and help build the placenta, along with other body tissues.
If you’re taking a prenatal supplement, you should be getting enough B vitamins already, but you can also get them from dietary sources like liver, pork, poultry, bananas, and beans.
The call for choline. Choline is another nutrient you may need more of when you’re pregnant.
Even though your body can produce choline naturally, when you’re pregnant, you’re not making enough for the two of you.
This is easy to top up with a balanced diet, so try to add more chicken, beef, eggs, milk, and peanuts, all of which will help supplement your choline levels.
You can read more about nutrition in our downloadable pregnancy guide.
The balancing act. As your uterus gets bigger, you may notice your center of gravity shifts, and you may feel a little off balance.
Take care of yourself by wearing flat shoes, being careful on stairs, and avoiding slippery surfaces to reduce the risk of falling.
If you do fall and you’re concerned, if you’re bleeding, or if you start experiencing contractions, contact your healthcare provider.