Your baby is now the size of a carrot in length, measuring seven (7) inches from crown to rump (or ten and a half [10.5] inches from head to heel) and weighing about three-fourths (0.75) of a pound. You are in your fifth month of pregnancy.
During week 21 of pregnancy, your baby begins to look a little less skinny as layers of fat accumulate throughout your baby’s body. Thanks to these fat layers, your baby’s skin looks a little less transparent. More important, those layers of fat will keep your baby warm and insulated outside the womb after birth. Downy soft hair called lanugo and a waxy cheese-like material produced by the oil glands called vernix protect your baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid. The eyelids are still closed, but your baby is not always asleep. Frequent movements from slight flutters to bigger kicks and nudges tell you when your baby is awake. You may soon discover a daily pattern to your baby’s fetal movement.
Your baby continues to breathe in amniotic fluid, an activity that is vital to the development of the lungs. You may also notice when you baby gets the hiccups by the jerky motions that you feel within your abdomen. In addition to practicing breathing, your baby also swallows the amniotic fluid, which changes flavor depending on your diet. Eat plenty of healthy foods like broccoli and Brussels sprouts so that your baby acquires a taste for more nutritious food choices now, making the battle at the dinner table easier in the future. The internal organs and organ systems such as the digestive system continue to mature. If your baby is a girl, her vagina has begun to form during week 21 of pregnancy.
During week 21 of pregnancy, you uterus now extends above your belly button. Your skin is the big news this week. Increased oil production may lead to oily skin and worsening acne. Although many treatments for pimples are safe to use while pregnant, others such as Accutane and Retin-A may be dangerous to your developing baby. Always check with your health care provider before using any medications during pregnancy. You may also notice varicose veins on your legs, which are caused by the hormone progesterone relaxing the walls of your blood vessels in combination with the excess weight that you are now carrying around. You can minimize varicose veins by exercising daily, propping your feet and legs up whenever possible, sleeping on your left side, and wearing maternity support hose. You may notice spider veins on your ankles, legs, or face, which may be unsightly now but usually disappear after birth.
Many expectant mothers also begin to notice stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, chest, and thighs during the second part of the second trimester. If your skin feels dry, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable, go ahead and slather on the lotion or cocoa butter. However, know that stretch marks are largely hereditary. If you are going to get stretch marks, you are going to get stretch marks. No creams, lotions, or oils have yet been proven to prevent or reduce stretch marks. Fortunately, stretch marks do often fade with time after you give birth. Other symptoms during week 21 of pregnancy include a hearty appetite, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, constipation, backache, bleeding gums, and anxiety about the birth.
Learn about your baby during week 20 of pregnancy or week 22 of pregnancy.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
21 weeks pregnant: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/21-weeks-pregnant_70797
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Your pregnancy: 21 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-21-weeks_1110.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 21-25: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-21-25
Baby Bump at 21 Weeks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sheila_21_weeks.jpg