21 Weeks Pregnant | Symptoms and Your Baby

21 Weeks Pregnant | Symptoms and Your Baby

You’re 21 weeks pregnant!

Your belly may be big enough that you are starting to feel your center of gravity shift.

You may start to have to make modifications to how you sit down, stand up and do other physical activities.

Exercise is still pretty easy and is good for your body, as long as you stick to activities that don’t put you at risk for falling or being hit in the stomach (e.g. horse riding or karate).

You may find that you get breathless a little quicker because your uterus is pushing up and squashing your diaphragm.

21 Weeks Pregnant – Your Body

You may notice varicose veins making an appearance, caused by the extra pressure on the veins in your legs as well as higher progesterone levels making the vein walls relax.

You’re more likely to get varicose veins as you have subsequent pregnancies and if other family members are prone to them. Exercise, resting with your feet up and maternity support hose are all ways you can alleviate varicose veins.

Your skin might be itchy from stretching to accommodate that growing belly and you might start noticing some stretch marks – red, pink or purple streaks that appear on areas like your stomach, breasts, buttocks and thighs.

There is no way to prevent stretch marks as they happen when the support under your skin is torn as it stretches. Rapid weight gain can make them more noticeable, so it’s a good idea to eat healthy and exercise so your weight gain is slow and steady. Using a good moisturiser (virgin coconut oil is very good for your skin and smells delicious!) helps with the itching, dry skin and stretch marks — which do fade after baby is born.

Eating well (whole foods, protein, good fats, veggies, leafy greens, nuts and seeds) and getting exercise will significantly help you to avoid gestational diabetes, which often increases the push for interventions at birth. Minimise the consumption of sugars (in both drinks and food) and processed grains, which spike blood sugar levels. Exercise helps with insulin resistance too.

When buying food or drinks, check the sugar content on the label, bearing in mind that around 4 grams is a teaspoon. So if you buy a yoghurt with 16 grams of sugar per serve, that’s 4 teaspoons of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day for health benefits, so you can see how this can quickly add up in foods and drinks without you realising it. Only drinking water or safe herbal teas is a great way to help reduce sugar intake.

Here are 13 healthy and delicious breakfast ideas.

At 21 weeks pregnant, you may also start to notice Braxton Hicks contractions. This is your uterus tightening and releasing. These contractions are your body’s way of practicing for labour and have actually been happening since you were about 7 weeks pregnant. They aren’t painful and shouldn’t cause you any alarm.

Braxton Hicks will increase in frequency and intensity from now until baby arrives. If they do become painful, make sure you speak to your doctor, midwife or phone the maternity ward just to be sure. It could be an irritable uterus, meaning you need to take things a bit easier. Check your water intake too, ensuring you’re getting enough.

21 Weeks Pregnant – Your Baby

Your baby is gaining weight much more rapidly and looks much more like a newborn.

He still has a lot of weight to gain and because he still needs to fill out his skin is still very wrinkly.

His eyebrows are developed now, giving his face much more expression.

This week, your baby weighs about 340 grams, and is about 23 cm long, around the size of a carrot.

Last Updated: August 15, 2016

CONTRIBUTOR

Sam McCulloch enjoys talking so much about birth that she decided to become a birth educator and doula, supporting parents in making informed choices about their birth experience. In her spare time she watches Downton Abbey and has numerous creative projects on the go. She is mother to three beautiful little humans.


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