By the 21st week, the baby and baby bump continues to grow very fast, and it is time to show off and feel proud. Many have started feeling the baby’s kicks though they are not as hard. If you have not yet felt the kicks, well, no worry, because you are only on the 21st week, they will appear in the subsequent weeks.
Baby’s growth and development in week twenty-one
Weight: The baby continues to pack more pounds by the 21st week. At this time, he/she is about 10.5 inches long and 12.7 ounces in weight. Well, this is approximately the size of a banana.
Digestive system: At this point, the digestive system has developed further, and the baby is swallowing more amniotic fluid. This increases the pace at which the digestive system is developing because of continued practice. All the organs in the digestive tract keep practicing on a regular basis until the system becomes ready by the close of the pregnancy.
The kidneys and bladder: Other systems that keep practicing using the amniotic fluid include the renal system. After the amniotic fluid passes through the digestive system, it proceeds to the kidneys and then released as urine. This helps to practice the bladder, kidneys, and urethra.
Fingernails: The fingernails on the baby’s fingers start appearing on the nail beds that began forming a few weeks ago. However, the nails only appear as hardened cells and not the tough nails that adults have. If they harden completely, the baby could bruise the head.
The skin: The skin of the baby is now shifting from being a thin transparent cover to a translucent layer. A thin layer of wax (vernix) covers the baby and offers extra protection from the amniotic fluid. The vernix will decrease days to delivery. However, if the baby is born, prematurely, he will still be covered in vernix.
Baby’s nerves: Though the baby’s nerves are not yet mature and do not control the movements, they are developing rather fast. Their networks are extending to all parts of the body from the head to legs. However, they appear very advanced between the head and backbone.
Changes to expect in Mom’s body during week 21
If you started feeling the baby’s movements in the previous weeks, they will become stronger this week. This is magical in many ways and affects the mom so much psychologically. A special bond with the kicking baby develops between the mom and the baby, and she becomes very protective. This is the time to let your husband feel the baby and experience the same magic. As the movements continue, well, there is no need to worry about them until it gets to about the 24th week when you should follow the pattern.
While everything from lovely baby movements, attractive bump, and elevated energy levels make you feel very good, some symptoms will start appearing and could make you a little uncomfortable.
Stretch marks: The fast growing baby bump stretches the skin on the abdomen and makes purplish-pink streaks appear. Besides, the stretch marks will also appear on other areas that are packing on fat and growing such as buttocks, hands, breasts, and thighs. The stretch marks are also caused by the changing hormones and will persist until the end of the third trimester.
Back pain and backaches: From this week, you may start experiencing back pains and the problem will persist through to the third trimester. This is because of the fast shifting center of gravity that makes you want to lean behind. The effect is extra pressure especially in the lower back and sharp pain especially when you stand, sleep, or lift weighty items.
While back pain is not a problem to get worried about, you need to be careful and note low dull backache. This could be a sign of pre-term labor and you should notify the doctor immediately. If you are unsure of any pain, the best thing is checking in with your doctor. Here are some suggestions that can assist you to alleviate backache.
- Apply a hot or warm compress at the paining section.
- Ask your partner or an experienced masseur to give you a massage on the back.
- Join a Yoga class to help practice and stretch the back muscles.
- Sleep on your side and bend the knees when sleeping on the side.
Weight gain: By the end of the 21st week, you will have gained about 13-14 lbs. The average weight gain at this point is about 1-1.5 pounds every week. In some women, growth occurs rapidly in some weeks and then slows down in other weeks. This is called spurts growth.
Intimacy with your partner
The elevated level of energy in the 21st week, the bliss of feeling the baby movements, and extensive networks of blood in the vaginal area brings about elevated levels of libido. Well, this is the time to enjoy your intimacy with your partner. While some women have reservations about sex during pregnancy, such views are unfounded. You should enjoy intimacy especially around the 21st week and entire second trimester because you are not yet too large or uncomfortable. However, you might want to get a better position for making love because of the growing baby bump.
Notably, exercises should be part and parcel of your daily routine in the 21st week and remaining part of the pregnancy. Exercises during pregnancy make moms feel healthier, reduce backaches, and clear fatigue. With appropriate regular exercises, you can be sure that even delivery will be a lot easier.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology emphasize that with appropriate exercises, labor will shorten and risk of complications will go down. Some of the most recommended exercises include basketball, swimming, and walking.
As you exercise, here are some important things to know;
- Do not lie flat on the stomach or back
- Commence every exercise slowly
- Avoid exercising in very hot or humid environment
- Ensure you are well hydrated during the exercises
- Always support the breasts firmly when exercising
Things to do during the 21st week
- Keep doing mild exercises.
- Eat healthy meals in small portions.
- Keep checking the nature of the vaginal discharge to ensure it is clear-milky.
- Take great photos of your growing baby bump and post it on your social media for friends to see. You may also consider putting the image on a large frame and hanging in the living room.
- Keep updating the pregnancy diary on the week. If you feel the baby movements, make sure to note the time and its nature.
- Take more time with your partner feeling the movements and enjoying the thrill.
- Play lovely music and lyrics to the baby. You may also consider singing for him/her.
- Because of the elevated libido, this is a great time to get intimate with your partner.
- Keep stress as low as possible by staying organized both at home and at work. You can do this easily through setting up reminders on the phone.