Your Pregnancy Week 21

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 21st week of pregnancy.

Your Baby

During pregnancy week 21 your baby is probably weighing in just over 10 ounces and should be slightly longer than 7 inches! That means your baby is roughly the length of an entire banana by now!

Changes in Your Growing Baby

Your baby's growth slows just a spell as your baby concentrates on developing her organs and central nervous system. Your baby's skin will also continue to mature from now on.

Your baby's digestive system is also undergoing unique changes. Your baby's intestines will slowly start to contract and relax, and your baby can now swallow and absorb fluids via the amniotic fluid. While this may seem strange, this actually encourages your baby's digestive system to mature fully.
After about 21 weeks pregnant you may start realizing that your baby has fetal hiccups in utero. This is a very common albeit somewhat unusual occurrence. During pregnancy fetal hiccups often occur but are nothing to worry about. Most women notice them as repetitive or rhythmic movements that occur for several minutes at a time in their belly.
Many women find this habit amusing. Keep in mind that some baby's tend to hiccup more frequently than others. You may notice your baby tends to hiccup more at a certain time of day, which can for some women be 3 in the morning. Happily remember that this is a sign your little one is thriving inside their comfy and cozy home. Some baby's will hiccup only randomly while others may hiccup as much as five or more times every day!

Your Body's Development

Your belly is still small enough (though much larger than when you started your pregnancy) to allow you pretty good freedom and movement. You should enjoy this time of pregnancy, because as you approach your third trimester you will find your belly expanding to unbelievable proportions.

Changes in Your Body

Some women start noticing cramping or achiness in their legs. Fortunately wearing support stockings can help alleviate much of the discomfort you may experience during this time in pregnancy. Support hose are also a good idea for anyone suffering from or swelling in the legs. Keep in mind that regular stretching and exercise can also alleviate stubborn cramps from the legs. You may find a brief 15 minute stretch on rising and before you go to bed every night very comforting and useful for alleviating many of the cramps associated with pregnancy.
During this time you may start thinking more and more about delivery. There are some important things you should be aware of after delivery. Many women if not most will go through a period of extreme joy and elation immediately after delivery. This can often be followed however by a period of sadness, often referred to as the baby blues. Why so blue? Remember that after delivering your baby your feelings will be mixed with exhaustion and the new challenges delivering a baby brings. Most newborns will not sleep through the night for several weeks after birth, which can contribute to your feelings of sadness or anxiety. Keep in mind however that most cases of the blues only last a few short days. The blues may also result from the rapid drop in hormones that occurs just after delivery.

If you experience severe depression or sadness, you may have a much more serious condition called postpartum depression or PPD. Be sure if you can't shake your baby blues you talk with your healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor can offer treatment to help relieve this potentially debilitating condition.

Video: What to Expect from the 21st Week of Pregnancy



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