Your Pregnancy Week 20
Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Your BabyDuring pregnancy week 20 your baby weighs roughly 9 ounces and is up to 6.5 inches long!
Changes in Your Growing BabyAs you continue your pregnancy your baby continues practicing her breathing and swallowing techniques. Your baby will continue to grow and put on added pounds in the upcoming weeks. This will help your baby's head seem more proportional to the rest of her body. Your baby's skin starts separating into different layers. The outer layer or surface of your baby's skin, referred to as the epidermis has four layers containing ridges and even your baby's fingerprints. Your baby will also be busily creating the layers that will form his palms and feet later in life!
Your Body's DevelopmentCongratulations, you have reached the half way mark! Your bump should start drawing attention from passers by. At this time your uterus is at least the height of your belly button. From this point on your uterus and baby's growth generally becomes more regular, and you will probably start noticing your bump expanding more rapidly from this point on.
Keep in mind while 20 weeks pregnant is the 'standard' half way point, some women will deliver a little earlier than this and others a little later. The average pregnancy lasts roughly thirty seven to forty two weeks. First time moms tend to go a bit longer, while second and third time moms or more tend to delivery a little sooner (though this isn't always the case!). Some women may go on to deliver past 40 weeks even if they have had children previously. This could be due to several different factors including the accuracy of your estimated due date or even your baby's growth rate. Some women are also more genetically prone to carry their baby's for longer. Not sure what category you will fall into? Ask your mother when she delivered you. Chances are you may deliver around the same time.
Changes in Your BodyYou might start feeling clumsier now. Many women are surprised to find how bulky a bulging belly can be, while others dance and prance about lightly with their growing bellies. Many women get into the habit of comparing their bumps starting now and beyond. Keep in mind that all women carry differently. Some will carry "high" and others will carry "low". Some will carry most of their weight in their tummy and others in their behind. It is all perfectly normal and perfectly beautiful. Don't worry or obsess about the size of your bump or any other part of your body for that matter.
Keep in mind the size of your bump does not necessarily correlate with the size of your baby. Some women will barely show and go on to deliver a 9 pound baby, whereas others will look very big and deliver a 6 pound baby. You really can't tell by looking at someone's belly.
Your healthcare provider will now start taking an active interest in the size of your bump. Many will measure your uterus from your pubic symphysis to the top of your uterus (or fundus). Others may measure from your belly button up. Usually the size of your uterus (not your belly) corresponds to the number of weeks pregnant you are. Most women's bellies will grow roughly 1 inch every week from now until about 36 weeks pregnant.
If you are measuring large for dates it is possible you may be due sooner than expected. You may be also measuring smaller which may suggest your baby is due later than expected. This can sometimes be an indication of a problem like intrauterine growth restriction, but typically complications like this are not common.
HeartburnYou may start to notice a burning sensation in your chest. This is probably heartburn, a common pregnancy symptom to expect in the second trimester. Also referred to as acid reflux, heartburn is due to the hormonal and physical changes that take place when you're expecting.
When you're pregnant, progesterone (a hormone that the placenta produces) relaxes the muscular valve that separates your stomach from the esophagus. Consequently, this allows gastric acids from your stomach to back up into the esophagus. Thus, you get that uncomfortable burning sensation.
To minimize your discomfort, you might want to avoid eating any foods or beverages that might trigger this pregnancy symptom. A few common food triggers include carbonated drinks, caffeine, chocolate, and acidic foods (like citrusy fruits and vegetables), processed meats, and fried or fatty foods. You might want to also eat smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three big meals. This gives your body more time to digest everything.
If your heartburn becomes a big problem for you, ask your healthcare provider if it's okay to take an over-the-counter antacid. In general, antacids that contain magnesium or calcium can ease your discomfort. But since some brands might contain aluminum or aspirin, talk to your doctor first for what's safe in your individual circumstance.
Video: What to Expect from the 20th Week of Pregnancy
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