Mother and Baby

21 weeks pregnant - what to expect

Baby at 21 weeks

This week, your baby’s growing, your skin is changing and those movements in your womb are intensifying. Here’s what your baby and your body is doing at 21 weeks.

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.

What’s my baby doing at 21 weeks?

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!

What is my body doing at 21 weeks?

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 because 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. 

Common symptoms to look out for:

  • 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. 
  • Itchy skin: As the skin on your stomach stretches, it becomes thinner and dries out, which can lead to an itchy, dry feeling. Use a bump oil to moisturise, soothe and keep skin soft and supple. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

Your week 21 FAQ's answered: 

How big is my baby at 21 weeks? 

Right now, your baby is around ten and a half inches long (or the size of a carrot) and weighs around 11 and 12 and a half ounces. 

How many months is 21 weeks pregnant?

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

How big should my belly be at 21 weeks pregnant? 

This varies 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. 

Take me back to week 20

Take me to week 22

Read next, the best pregnancy pillows:

Chicco Boppy Total Body Pillow Expand Image Chicco Boppy Total Body Pillow

Chicco Boppy Total Body Pillow, £60.00, Amazon 

Not only will it give you a restful night's sleep and daytime comfort, it can be used as an aid for breastfeeding. Designed with a physiotherapist in order to ensure this pillow removes any pressure on the spine, if you're suffering from pregnancy back-pain, a pillow might help. This pillow consists of three seperate pieces that can be used together, or seperately for the perfect combination, with support for the whole body, the head and the shoulders to stomach. 
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Theraline The Original Pregnancy & Baby Feeding Pillow, £44.95, Amazon

The microbead filling moulds to the shape of your body for optimum comfort, changing as your body does. Any back or pelvic pain? This pillow promises to alleviate it, plus give you an extra help when breastfeeding. 
Clevamama ClevaCushion 10 in 1 Nursing Pillow Expand Image Clevamama ClevaCushion 10 in 1 Nursing Pillow

ClevaMama ClevaCushion 10 in 1 Nursing Pillow, £49.99, Amazon

Another Mother & Baby award winner, this pillow can be used in ten different combinations, from pregnancy right up to the stroller stage. Whilst we're focusing on pregnancy, the pillow has adjustable straps to fit your waist, helping you get comfortable when you need it most. A good one to buy if you want a product that will last for more than the next nine months.
JoJo Maman Bébé Multi-purpose Maternity Body Support Pillow Expand Image JoJo Maman Bébé Multi-purpose Maternity Body Support Pillow

​JoJo Maman Summer Infant Maternity Body Support Pillow, £40,

While most of these pillows are multi-purpose, this one is extra special. It not only supports your back, bump and hip during the night, it can also be zipped into a coil design to create a little nest for your baby to rest or play in. 
PreciousLittleOne 12ft Body & Baby Support Pillow Expand Image PreciousLittleOne 12ft Body & Baby Support Pillow

PreciousLittleOne 12ft Body & Baby Support Pillow, £69.99,

Yep, you read that right - 12 ft! The wrap around pillow provides full body support for your bump, back and knees and helps keep you in a side position during the latter months of pregnancy. 
Boppy Pregnancy Wedge Support Pillow Expand Image Boppy Pregnancy Wedge Support Pillow

Chicco Pregnancy Wedge Support Pillow, £20.00, Amazon

This ergonomically shaped pillow is small enough to give you support wherever you choose. Whether that's between your knees, behind your back or under your bump, this pillow is a good option if you don't want a huge pillow to store when you're not using it.
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The Snuggle Up Collection: L-shaped pillow, £25,

While this collection has four different letter shaped pillows, most mums-to-be seem to prefer the L shaped pillow, which offers full body and neck support. Fully machine washable, the pillows can also be used to aid breastfeeding. The premium collection is even coated in lavender to soothe you to sleep.
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Kit for Kids Cuddle Me Pregnancy Pillow, £39.99, Amazon

A great versatile option, this pillow can be moulded into an abundance of shapes to give you customised support for your back, bump and knees. Changing as your body does during pregnancy, it is sure to ease any aches to give you a restful night's sleep.
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Mamas & Papas Night Stars Pregnancy and Nursing Pillow, £35,

​A great versatile option, this pillow can be moulded into an abundance of shapes to give you customised support for your back, bump and knees. Changing as your body does during pregnancy, it is sure to ease any aches to give you a restful night's sleep.
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John Lewis V-shaped Maternity and Nursing Pillow, £25,

Simple and affordable, this practical pillow will relieve the back, neck and shoulder pain that comes with carrying your growing baby. It comes with its own bag for easy transportation, plus doubles as a breastfeeding aid once you've given birth.

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