Your 21st Week

Not all women happily accept their changing body shape, even though they’re overjoyed to be pregnant. But a belly “bump” doesn’t have to mean frump. You’ve got a good excuse to treat yourself to a few attractive maternity clothes or to indulge in some pampering, perhaps by having a gentle massage. Keep up your exercise routine, because you’ll feel energized and all the better for it.


You’re Halfway through your pregnancy already—it’s all happening so fast

You are 20 Weeks and 1 Day 139 days to go…

You’re in the second half of your pregnancy and in the months that follow you’ll have more regular contact with your doctor.

Your baby today

Your baby’s movements are still based on a set of reflex actions but this is now beginning to change. As the nerve pathways develop, expand, and mature, your baby gains greater and greater control of his actions.

Your prenatal appointments will become more frequent in the second half of your pregnancy. Even if you are in good health, and your baby has been thoroughly assessed at the 20-week ultrasound scan (see What the scan reveals), it can be reassuring to have these regular checkups with the doctor.

The number of appointments you have will differ depending on whether you’ve had any complications, or whether you are having a high-risk pregnancy for another reason, such as a preexisting medical condition like diabetes. If it’s a low-risk pregnancy, you can expect around 14 appointments unless there are complications. As a general rule you can expect to have prenatal appointments from now on: every 4 weeks until you reach 30 weeks’ gestation, then appointments at 2-week intervals until you reach 36 weeks’ gestation. From then on, you’ll have appointments weekly. And if you pass your due date , you’ll need to see your doctor once or twice weekly However, you can contact your doctor if you have any concerns.

If you’re expecting twins, appointments will be more frequent and will depend on the type of twins you’re having: non-identical or identical. If identical, care will depend on whether they share any of their support system.

… Your body
Dressing well

With your usual office clothing straining at the seams, you might have to rethink your work wardrobe. The good news is that, unlike in years gone by, there is now a wealth of beautiful maternity clothing available and much at affordable everyday prices. These are often designed as coordinated sets, which makes putting them together easy.

Remember that you’ll be wearing maternity clothing for a few months, and it’s easy to become bored by the same items. If possible, designate a little of your wardrobe budget to buy yourself one or two items every month. If you’re tired of your black elastic pants, sleeveless top, and smock dress, buy a pretty new shirt or jacket to jazz them up; you can wear them unbuttoned if necessary.

Don’t hesitate to accept hand-me-downs; even if they are not right for your office dress code, wearing them at home will enable you to spend a little more on work clothing. And don’t forget your shoes; if you were a stiletto girl before becoming pregnant, you’ll need to rethink (see On your feet).

The wide range of maternity clothes that is now available means you can still look good at work. Look for items that you can also wear after the birth.

You are 20 Weeks and 2 Days 138 days to go…

Twin babies have been sharing a home in the uterus for a while now, but how are they relating to each other?

Your baby today

This close-up of the fingertips shows that the nail beds have formed and the nails are starting to grow. The nails have not yet hardened: this prevents your baby from scratching himself accidentally while he has no control over hand movements.

At 21 weeks, a baby’s eyes are still closed, but he’ll still be aware of light and dark. Because of this, twins can probably make out their sibling changing position and they’re increasingly becoming aware of each other. It’s thought that because memory starts developing around now, twin babies may begin to bond at this stage.

As ultrasound scanning has proven, there’s plenty of contact between twin babies in the uterus, especially as the amount of space decreases. They have been seen to touch often, kick, and try to grab. Each twin reacts to the other’s movements.

They may not act in the same way, with one twin favoring different movements than the other one. For instance, one baby may prefer sucking his thumb, while the other likes clutching his cord. Nor do they necessarily have the same body clock, so they may be active at different times. This proves that, even in the uterus, twin babies are already individuals.

As the pregnancy progresses, contact between your twin babies will increase. Because you’ll have more ultrasound scans in a twin pregnancy, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see them interacting with each other.

… Doctor
Q: Can my baby feel anything when we have sex?
A: He may be aware of some movements when you have sex and of a change in your heart rate, but he won’t be harmed by either. You may find that your baby responds to these sensations by moving a lot while you’re having sex, or just afterward. Some women find this inhibiting, but remember that it doesn’t mean the baby is uncomfortable and, of course, he doesn’t understand what you’re doing! If you have an orgasm, your uterus will feel tight and you may have Braxton-Hicks contractions but, again, this is not harmful to your baby.

Be reassured that your baby is well protected by the pool of amniotic fluid. Also, the cervix is closed by a plug of mucus during pregnancy so no semen can enter the uterus; this helps to guard against infection.

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