Week 21 of pregnancy

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Welcome to week 21 of pregnancy. Now that you are more than halfway there with your pregnancy and now you can feel the baby moving in your womb. At week 21 of pregnancy, this is the best time planning over baby showers with friends and family.

What does week 21 of pregnancy look like?

This week, you would notice that there are a lot of changes that happen in your body. You might have gained a lot of pounds and look different. You are supposed to be gaining the extra weight as recommended by the doctor. It serves an important purpose for the baby. 

All the extra pounds are doing good for you and your baby. It also helps the baby to stay nourished and healthy. You might not feel good about the weight gain, but own it! Think about all the amazing things that it’s doing.

Fetal movements are now noticeable, keeping the baby nourished and active. 

Fetal development at week 21 of pregnancy

The baby is now about 10 ½ inches long from the crown to the bottom and weighs around 11 to 12 ½ ounces, almost the size of a large banana.

  • The legs and arms are rapidly moving and are much more coordinated. 
  • The liver and spleen are producing red blood cells
  • The baby can now taste some fluids from amniotic acid as well. The taste of amniotic acid is similar to that of the food eaten by the pregnant mom.
  • Bone marrow is working its way to contribute to the blood cells and in the third trimester it will take over the blood cell production. The blood cell production by the liver stops a few weeks before.
  • The eyelids of the baby are now developed and the eyes are moving. 

Related articles: Week 20 of pregnancy

What are the symptoms of week 21 of pregnancy?

Stretch marks

At week 21, as the baby is developing itself, the growing baby bump is leaving stretch marks all over the thighs, belly, and butt. They start to appear in pink, red, or dark brown streaks. Gaining weight steadily helps you to avoid getting extra stretch marks. The color of stretch marks depends upon complexion and genes. 

Fetal movement 

You may feel the baby twisting and kick inside your womb. As the weeks pass by, the baby’s kicks get more aggressive. The coordination in the movement of hands and legs are getting better, which means there will be swift actions in your womb.

Braxton Hicks contractions

You might feel contractions and relaxations occasionally in the abdomen. The uterus may feel tight and the pain might go away if you try to switch positions. It is because the uterus practices for the labor. 

Backaches 

There is a shift in gravity that can add an extra strain over the back to maintain posture, hormones cause the ligaments to stretch and loosen, adding to the pain in your back. You can get a professional to give you a prenatal massage.

Related articles: Week 19 of pregnancy

Self-care tips at week 21 of pregnancy

Low-impact exercises

You should do more exercises that are low-impact like yoga or walking. Exercises help to ease your body with pain and relax your pelvic muscles. These exercises help you to have efficient contractions during labor and also enables you to have an easy delivery.

Avoid empty calories

The emphasis is on “empty” and not the calories. It is important to have the right kind of calories for you and your baby. The idea here is not to lose weight but to slow down the rate of gain. Also, you need to make sure that you are having a balanced diet and not messing up with your nutrient intake.

Avoid laser treatments

Your legs, armpits, and arms start to grow more hairs because of the hormones and the blood circulation in the body. It is better to avoid any kind of laser treatment to avoid the risk of any birth defects. 

Keep track of your weight

The pounds you need to add on depends on women to women and pregnancy to pregnancy. At week 21 of pregnancy, weight gain should be steady over the week and a weight tracker should be used to monitor the weight. Weight gain is important to avoid unwanted stretch marks and helps you to have the necessary weight proportion according to the development of your baby.

Week 21 of pregnancy

Special considerations and complications 

Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy

It is thought to be related to stretching of the skin on the abdomen. At week 21 of pregnancy, It is more common in the first pregnancy than the subsequent pregnancies and predominantly the risk is greater for white women than in women of color. It is usually associated with multiple pregnancy.

The rash usually begins during the first trimester, in the last few weeks of pregnancy. The rash is very itchy and patients find it difficult to sleep. But don’t worry as it’ll usually go before delivery and there are no risks involved to the mother or the baby.

Incompetent cervix and miscarriage

Cervical insufficiency occurs when the women’s cervix shortens and weakens, threatening early labor. This may lead to miscarriage. When this premature dilation is not detected prior, It can also lead to loss of a preterm infant or premature birth. The result depends on the time of delivery, which means the earlier the child is born, the more risk for birth defects and even pregnancy loss.

It can occur due to an injury in the previous delivery or any new infection or inflammation. If not severe, it can be detected on an ultrasound and pregnancy loss can be prevented. Treatment usually involves bed rest, pelvic rest and activity restriction. Severe cases can be treated with a surgery called as Cervical Cerclage, where the opening is sutured up to prevent miscarriage.

Placenta Previa Diagnosis 

At week 21 of pregnancy, the placenta attaches itself to the uterus, away from the cervix. It is usually attached at the top (fundus) of the uterus, while the cervix lies at the bottom. In this case, the placenta attaches itself to the bottom of the uterus, blocking most of the part of the cervix.

As the lower half of the uterus expands the most with the growing baby, it causes tears in the placenta. It leads to bleeding inside the placenta as well some leaking out. It can lead to severe bleeding and preterm delivery. The cervical opening might be covered by the placenta, while in some cases it might just extend to the edge of the cervix, not covering it. Such a pregnancy is called a high risk pregnancy and a close watch needs to be kept.

Visit the doctor

During your future appointments, you are most likely to have a prenatal visit every four weeks. 

At week 21 of pregnancy, It is important to identify any complications at this stage with your pregnancy as it helps the doctor to identify and treat it at the right time or at least take note and prepare you with all the necessary precautions that you might need to take to reduce or avoid such complications to worsen up.

You might also have to go to the Emergency room as a visit is warranted to rule out complications that could threaten the mother or the child. In case of severe symptoms like bleeding and pain, you might have to be admitted in the ER if it is a sign of miscarriage.

Important checklist for week 21 pregnancy

  • Take your prenatal vitamins
  • Stay hydrated
  • Maintain a pregnancy journal
  • Note down the changes in your body and discuss it with your OBGYN
  • Change and switch position to reduce cramps 

Bottomline

Now that you have crossed halfway through your pregnancy, congratulations! Since the start of the first trimester, your body has gone through a lot of changes and you might be surprised that you went through all the pregnancy symptoms and changes emotionally, physically, and mentally. Be proud to have successfully completed 21 weeks of this roller coaster ride. Prepare yourself in advance with all the new and upcoming challenges in the following weeks! 

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