21 Weeks Pregnant

Jan 25, 2022 | 5 minutes Read

Finding it hard to sleep on your tummy? This is because you can’t ignore the rather big lump which is forming in your middle. Just when you creep into bed, it seems this is a signal for your baby to wake up. Some people say this is nature's way of preparing mothers for broken sleep when the baby is born. Even so, it's hard to stay focused on nodding off when it feels like there's an acrobat flinging around in your belly. If you're finding it impossible to go to sleep, give in and get up. A drink of milk, something light to eat, a boring book or something mindless on the television can all help your mind to switch off into neutral.

Is anyone else a little warm?

If you find you’re hot, hot, hot and your sheets are too sticky for comfort, investigate your cooling options. You may need to sleep with a fan or air conditioning on, no matter what the season. Pajamas clothes could be just too stifling, so strip off if you feel more comfortable. Wet cloths wrung out and placed on your forehead, neck and chest can be very cooling. Don’t worry that you may get a "chill". Unless you have a problem with the temperature regulating region in your brain, you’ll know if you've gone overboard on the cooling steps.

Where's the lavender oil?

Try to take some time every day, just to enjoy your pregnancy. This is a time when the early discomforts have (hopefully) improved, but your baby isn’t so big that you’re really uncomfortable. You could feel yourself in love with the world, a sense of well-being infusing every pore. Alternately, you could just be feeling big and a little fed up. You may find you have a very short fuse when it comes to tolerating others and find yourself irritated by the smallest things. Make the time to exercise which will help your body release endorphins, those feel-good hormones. Swimming, walking, Pilates, or yoga are all good at defusing a little excess energy. Think about some solitary pursuits where you can connect with your baby and don’t feel you need to share yourselves with anyone else.

Your physical changes this week

The skin on your legs and arms could be looking a bit blotchy this week. A bluish or motley appearance is common in the second trimester and is a result of your high levels of estrogen. It doesn’t mean you have a reduced blood supply to these areas. You will find that after you have the baby, this will resolve.

Don’t look too deep if you're searching for your belly button. If you've usually got an "innie" it's probably being pushed out a little by this stage. At 21 weeks of pregnancy, many women find their belly button is flat and at the same level as their surrounding skin. It may well pop out and become more prominent as the baby grows. Interestingly, belly buttons are another one of a mother's body parts which go through permanent change after pregnancy. So expect a little variation to what it used to look like.

Your breasts have probably stabilized in their growth by this stage and you've become used to their different appearance. Your nipples will become bigger, and the areolas will darken as your pregnancy progresses. Make sure you wear a comfortable, well-fitting and supportive bra. It is not uncommon to need to upsize maternity bras a couple of times through pregnancy. All these early changes in your breasts are nature's way of preparing your body for breastfeeding and producing milk.

You’ll notice you are starting to put on more weight than you have been for the last couple of weeks. In fact, over the next 10 weeks you are likely to gain almost half of your total pregnancy weight gain. Your baby is responsible for some of it of course because it's laying down more fat stores and muscle as well.

Craving strange things? If you start to look longingly at coal or charcoal in the fireplace or BBQ, or even sticks of chalk, don t think you're losing it. Craving non-edible foodstuff is known officially as "Pica" and although it seems strange, this may have its origins in something more fundamental. These substances can be a source of trace elements and your body is craving them for a reason. However, resist the temptation and put that chalk down. Instead, make sure you eat from a wide variety of food groups and look for texture as much as taste with what you're eating.

Your emotional changes this week

You could be getting a little stressed at this stage. If you’re employed, the realization that you’ll need to take leave is dawning. Although you're probably not yet at the stage of counting down, this time will come. Get organized early on, do what you can and learn to prioritize what must be done.

If you've had a child before, you may be wondering how on earth you could love another child as much as you do the first one. This is a common concern among pregnant women, and it can be very helpful to talk about it. Be reassured, babies are very good at helping their parents fall in love with them. Don’t agonize over endless possibilities; it takes away valuable energy from everyday pleasure.

Your baby's changes this week

Back to fruit size comparisons in week 21 and now your baby is the size of a banana. Their weight is about 12 ounces, still tiny but growing all the time. Just out of interest: an average birth weight at term is around 7 and ½ pounds, head circumference 14 inches and length around 21 inches.

Your baby's brain and muscles are working in synchronization this week which means there's intent behind those movements. You’ll find they're less jerky and random and seem to be more deliberate and stronger. If you lie in a particular position and your baby doesn’t like it, you may find them wriggling around so they can find their own comfortable space. They can be picky little things.

Your baby is constantly taking amniotic fluid into its mouth and swallowing it. This cycle of swallowing, digesting and then recycling the fluid as urine will take place throughout the rest of your pregnancy. Waste products are already forming in your baby's bowel, to be passed in their first bowel movement; known as meconium.

Tiny tooth buds for your baby's permanent teeth are starting to form in their gums from this week. If you live in an area where the water supply is fluoridated, your baby will be getting the benefits. The placenta will do a good job filtering out many substances, though fluoride is one of the proven compounds to be harmless when taken in safe doses.

Hints for the week

If you find your feet are giving you grief, think carefully about the shoes you’re wearing. Orthotic inner supports, a lower heel, supportive heel cup and a wearing a larger shoe size than you normally do can all bring relief. If you’re concerned, an appointment with a podiatrist may be useful.

If you have cats and they use litter, excuse yourself from clean-up duty. Toxoplasmosis is a nasty parasitic disease transmitted in infected cat feces. If you’re digging in the garden or in places where cats may have been, wear gloves and wash your hands carefully when you’ve finished.

Avoid eating uncooked meat, unwashed fruit and vegetables and drinking unpasteurized milk because of the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.

Pull out the photo album and look at yourself and your partner as babies. Ask your parents what you were like and what they can remember of your temperament.

22 weeks pregnant is next.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.