Congratulations! You are now halfway across the journey towards motherhood. You have survived the exhausting morning sickness and now you are bound to face greater challenges.
At 21 weeks pregnant, there is no denying that you are, well, pregnant! Your growing abdomen and the faint kicks indicate that this is no simple stomach illness but nagging proofs that there is a budding life within you! At this point, you’ve come to terms with your pregnancy and have accepted that your life is going to change in lots of ways that you will soon come to understand. To help prepare for the weeks to come, here are the things to expect on your 5th month of gestation:
Fetal Growth and Development
At 21 weeks pregnant, your baby will be around 10 – 11 pounds and as long as 7 – 9 inches. He is a week past the age of viability, which means that he has a better shot at surviving life outside utero. However, his lungs still fall short of full maturity (this happens at the 7th and 8th month) so he will still need medications in the event that you undergo preterm birth.
The gastrointestinal (GI) system is still developing so your baby swallows amniotic fluid frequently and excretes it through his also developing urinary system. An increase or decrease in the normal amount of amniotic fluid might indicate anomalies in both systems mentioned. The taste buds are also being formed, so in a sense, your baby tastes whatever you are eating to make the most of it and feed him nutritious food. Who knows? He might take a liking for them when he grows up.
The sense of hearing is noted to be developed at this time, so take advantage and acquaint your new born with your favorite music or read him his very first alphabet.
Regular fetal movement is an indicator of fetal wellness. So how do you do the counting?
First, lie on your left side. This is a comfortable position for pregnant women because a supine or flat on bed position compresses the great vessels and also the diaphragm making it hard for you to breathe. At times, the compression of vessels will lower your blood pressure. Left side-lying, on the other hand, allows for better circulation to the placenta and to your baby.
If you want to feel you baby’s kicks, you will most likely appreciate them 1 to 2 hours after a meal. Early evening right after dinner is the most ideal time, since this is when the baby is most active.
You will want to feel your baby move or stretch around 10 times or more in those 2 hours. So make sure to make yourself comfortable and have your pen and paper ready and record those gentle taps. Fetal movement counting is done the same time each day.
Enjoy these gentle stretches and flutter, for as your baby grows bigger, movements will become stronger and even uncomfortable at times. If you have an older child, let him or her feel the movement of the little sister/brother in your womb. This will facilitate early bonding between siblings. Enjoy this wonderful moment with the entire family and let you and your baby feel loved.
You have conquered nausea and vomiting and started to rein in those unjustifiable cravings for food (and sometimes non-nutritious stuff). Yet, now you are faced with different signs and symptoms that you will have to live with until you safely deliver your little one to the outside world. Here are the common signs and symptoms during 21 weeks pregnant and tips on how to manage them:
Indigestion and heartburn
The growing uterus creates pressure in the abdomen so you frequently feel acid regurgitating up your throat. Also, the hormone relaxin relaxes your intestines, thereby slowing the movement of food making you feel full, bloated and gassy, which are classic signs of indigestion.
In order to control this, you may want to eat in six small frequent feedings contrary to eating three full meals. Dining in buffet is not advisable, unless you are well prepared for the consequences. To help reduce acid production, avoid gastric irritants like caffeine, carbonated beverages and the likes. It is also advised to stay upright for 30 minutes up to 1 hour after meals to minimize acid and food backing up your throat.
Since your baby is filling himself up with flesh and fats, you feel the urge to consume more. This is okay so long as you maintain the prescribed weight for you. Any heavier than this will result in potential complications. Snack on nutritious foods like fruits so you get less calories but packed with the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Flatulence and constipation
The hormone relaxin makes peristalsis, or the movement of your GI system sluggish, so stool also moves slower in your large intestines. This causes you to feel gassy and you can’t help but let it go – the gas. I mean.
You can start by consuming more fiber in your diet so that you will be able to pass stool easier. However, avoid gas forming foods like cabbage, beans, broccoli, dairy products and others. You can take them but in moderation.
A little activity can also help in stimulating good bowel movements. Several minutes of walking will help you keep fit and give you better success in the toilet seat.
Your growing baby puts a toll on the weight bearing parts of your body, especially on your back. That is why pregnant mothers tend to walk with a hand on their back for support.
With this, you should avoid strenuous activities, like lifting heaving objects and bending. If such activities are unavoidable, make sure to employ proper body mechanics and positioning when performing such tasks. A massage from a professional therapist can help relieve the pain and fatigue, but at the end of the day, a simple back rub from your partner will do wonders.
The growing fetus impedes the circulation on your lower extremities, affecting the return of blood from your leg veins. This results to varicose veins which are not a pretty sight. Elevation of legs after a day’s work is helpful. Compression stockings can also be worn, but with the advice of your health care provider.
Stretch marks and Acne
As your tummy stretches and stretches, the skin gets pulled leaving white to purple vertical marks. There is no sure way to prevent this from occurring (it is perfectly natural) so don’t feel bad and unlucky. You can use lotion and cocoa butter to help minimize marks, but don’t get your hopes too high.
There is also increased oil production when you are 21 weeks pregnant, so be more vigilant with your skin care. Just make sure that the products you use are safe for your baby.
You and your partner have come to embrace that you are pregnant, undeniably very pregnant. This is the best time to communicate your feelings – your fears, fantasies and expectations. Also, as early as today, you should be preparing for your birth. Where to give birth, how, who should be with you… and all the necessary details that go with it.