The baby’s growth and development is phenomenal. However, changes occurring in your body at stage might come as a surprise and cause a little embarrassment. Many of these are a teaser of the third trimester pregnancy symptom. So here’s a sneak peak at the surprises the 21st week of pregnancy brings along for you and your baby.

Baby Development

At 21 weeks, your baby measures about 7 inches (head to rump) and 10 ½ inches (head to heel) equal to the length of a carrot. Your little one is also packing pounds and is heavier at 12 ounces. 

The main development during the 21st week of pregnancy is a revved up digestive system. The baby’s digestive system produces a black sticky substance during digestion. It is called meconium. This by-product collects in the bowels and excreted in the baby’s first stool. In some cases, babies discharge the meconium in the womb itself or during delivery.

Not only this, your baby gulps down large (more than the previous weeks) quantities of amniotic fluid. It puts the digestive tract into practice mode. The amniotic fluid passes through the digestive tract, is digested, then filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the form of urine. In addition to swallowing amniotic fluid, the baby absorbs sugars from it. The amount of sugar derived from the amniotic fluid is very small. The baby receives most of its nutrition from the umbilical chord and the placenta. You need not worry about your baby drinking and breathing in amniotic fluid. The store of amniotic fluid is refreshed almost every 3 to 4 hours. Besides, another amazing fact about the amniotic fluid is it tastes like the food you eat. With your baby’s taste buds forming, your baby now tastes what you eat.

You’re babies growing fingernails and hair. The nails grow long, but have not hardened yet. The skin structure gets more complex and thus becomes less transparent. If you’re carrying multiples, the fetus starts interacting with its siblings. The baby’s eyelids and eyebrows are well formed. The eyelids are sealed tight. They will open only after 26 weeks, but the eyes are active and very sensitive. 

The kicks, jabs and all the other movements are much stronger than the first time you felt it. They are so strong that daddy can share in the excitement too. You can also feel your baby hiccupping. Fetal hiccups are jerky rhythmic movements lasting for a short durations of a few minutes. If you’re little one’s a girl, the vagina starts developing. The Fallopian tubes have already developed and her ovaries are already stocked with over six million eggs. 

The spleen and the liver have been performing the task of manufacturing red blood cells. However, it has now handed over the duty to the bone marrow. As the nerve networks mature, the baby’s movements get more co-coordinated. 

Changes to your body

As your body prepares for the baby’s arrival, you will experience what are called Braxton Hick’s Contractions. They feel like contractions. The muscles of the uterus tighten. These are false contractions and their purpose is to prepare the pelvic muscles for labor.

Leaky boobs are another of the embarrassing pregnancy symptoms during the second trimester. For those, you have still not developed stretch marks, this could be the beginning. These thin, indented, reddish purplish lines appear on the abdomen, breast, buttocks and inner thighs. The skin also becomes dry and itchy. Backaches and headaches may worsen by this stage. The second trimester also increases skin acne- it is caused by the increased oil production. Women at this gestational age also develop varicose or spider veins.

Increased libido is also normal. It is safe to have sex with your partner during the second trimester.

How should you prepare?

  • Avoid spicy and greasy food. It will give you better control over indigestion and heartburn problems. Eat more fiber if you suffer constipation.
  • Moisturize the skin especially your belly. Drink a lot of water to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Exercise to build endurance and strengthen your muscles. This includes taking long walks, yoga and performing Kegel exercises.
  • Sometimes doctors may suggest no sex during pregnancy particularly if you have a history of miscarriage and preterm labor. Therefore, before you steal a few intimate moments with your partner make sure you consult your doctor.
  • Watch your weight.
  • See your doctor right away if Braxton Hick’s contractions get painful or if they get regular (occurring at shorter intervals).
  • Think about baby names and your baby’s registry.

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