Mother and Baby

21 weeks pregnant: advice, symptoms and what to expect

Woman holding bump

At twenty-one weeks pregnant, your baby is growing fast, your skin is changing and those movements in your womb are intensifying. At the 21 week mark, you'll probably feel your baby moving inside you a lot more (which is super exciting) and you might be beginning to feel more symptoms. 

Counting your pregnancy in weeks and months can get confusing, around now, you are four months and about three weeks pregnant! 

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You'll also start to notice that bump is really starting to bloom! This obviously varies a lot from expectant mother, but as a guide, by now you will probably have gained around 13 to 14 pounds (or around 21 pounds if you're expecting twins). You'll gain around 30 pounds in total during your pregnancy. 

How big is my baby at 21 weeks pregnant?

Leaving the fruit analogies behind in favour of vegetable ones, your baby is now the size of a large carrot. She’s growing fast, now measuring 10 and a half inches long and weighing between 11 and 12 and a half ounces.

Baby size of a carrot

What’s my baby doing at 21 weeks pregnant?

You might have felt more activity in your womb than usual, and that’s because the initial fluttering movements you might have experienced will now start to feel like proper kicks, nudges, twists and turns. This is because the baby’s arms and legs will now be in proportion, the neutrons between the brain and muscles are connected, and the cartilage in your baby’s body will be turning to bone, all of which gives your baby more control over the movement of her limbs.

But it’s not all activity in there: despite the movement in your belly, your baby is sleeping as much as a newborn. 

Your baby’s taste buds will also be developing. She’ll be swallowing a little amniotic fluid every day for nutrition and hydration, and also to practise swallowing and digesting once she’s born - and whatever you’ve eaten will influence the taste of the amniotic fluid. Some research even suggests that the food you eat now could influence your baby’s tastes once she’s born!

In other fun news, your baby's eyelids and eyebrows are now present, and if she’s a girl, her vagina has begun to form!

9 common symptoms to look out for at 21 weeks pregnant:

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1) Varicose veins

With each week of pregnancy, there’s more and more pressure on the veins in your legs - and increasing progesterone levels, which relax the walls of the veins, only make it worse. To try to minimise these veins, try to exercise regularly, wear maternity support hose and to prop up your legs whenever you get a chance.
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2) Itchy skin

As the skin on your stomach stretches, it becomes thinner and dries out, which can lead to an itchy, dry feeling. If you hae an itchy bump, use a bump oil to moisturise, soothe and keep skin soft and supple. 
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3) Stretch marks

This comes as a pair with itchy skin! Pregnancy certainly isn’t all glamour, so you may have noticed stretch marks appearing on your body, whether on your stomach, bottom, legs, thighs, hips or breasts. The reason this is happening now is that your body is expanding and the supporting tissue under your skin gets torn as your skin stretches. Not everyone gets them, but if your mum had stretch marks, chances are that you will too. 

 
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4) Swollen feet

This week, you may also find that your feet are swelling, but don't worry - your body has about 50% more blood and fluid than it did before you fell pregnant, so there is a reason for this. 
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5) Bloating and gas

Remember when we said pregnancy wasn’t all glamorous? The increased pressure your uterus is putting on your rectum means you might be a bit gassier than usual. Drink lots of water and eat foods rich in fibre to avoid constipation, which can worsen the problem.
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6) Oily skin

While some people experience dry skin, others find they now have to deal with acne thanks to increased oil production. Try a gentle soap or cleanser, and stick to oil-free make-up and products to avoid exacerbating the acne. Depending on the severity and whether or not you're a glass half-full kind of person, you might call this pregnancy glow and see it as a positive!
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7) Braxton Hicks contractions

At this point in pregnancy, your uterus can feel tight as it prepares you for labour. Feeling miniature contractions is perfectly normal as long as they disappear when you move positions. If they continue, contact your doctor.
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8) Leaking breasts

At the end of the first trimester, your milk ducts are now fully developed in preparation for birth which can result in leaking breasts.
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9) Heartburn or indigestion

Would it really be a list of symptoms if this didn't pop up?! It is that symptom that just will not go away! For some it is worth than others and if you are really suffering, we feel for you. Avoid spicy or greasy foods as they can be a trigger. Keeping a food diary might make it easier for you to figure out exactly what your triggers are.

What to do this week:

  • Maternity leave: Start thinking about what maternity leave you want to take and when you want to start it. Statutory maternity leave lasts 52 weeks and you’re eligible for statutory maternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks. You’ll need to inform your employer when you want to stop work and the day you want your SMP to start. You must give at least 28 days notice, and your employer must confirm within 28 days how much SMP you’ll get and when it will start and stop. Here's all you need to know about getting that all important MAT B1 form

  • Exercise: Of course, it's important to stay active during your pregnancy, but it's best to keep to light exercise now. Try to get out for a 30 minute walk everyday and try things like morning yoga to keep it low-impact. Read more about exercising in pregnany here.

  • Keep your feet up: You might begin to find that your feet and ankles are now looking a little swollen, so it's really important to get some time with your feet up throughout the day. You can read more about swollen ankles in pregnancy here. 

 

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