21 Weeks Pregnant
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Your baby at 21 weeks
Your baby, now around 18cm in length and 360g in weight, is getting stronger every day. The cartilage skeleton is hardening as it becomes bone and the neurons are now connected between the muscles and brain, meaning that the movement of the arms and legs is much more coordinated and far more smooth. The eyebrows and eyelids are now properly developed and the eyes can open which means your baby will be able to blink by now.
How you are feeling
You are more than half way there, and hopefully you are enjoying what is commonly seen as the 'honeymoon' period of pregnancy. You are probably feeling quite healthy, relatively energetic and hopefully your bump is not yet so big that you feel it limits your every move.
You may have noticed that these days you are feeling the heat. You can thank your old friends, hormones, for yet another side effect of pregnancy. It is also to do with your increased pregnancy metabolism. If you are pregnant during the summer or work in a warm or stuffy environment then these factors will only exacerbate the problem. Anticipate getting overheated or sweaty and make sure that you wear appropriate light clothing. It is a good idea to wear layers so that you can adapt to how you are feeling through the day. On the plus side, if you were previously somebody who always seemed to feel the cold then you might be enjoying having your body thermostat turned up. Also, while it is quite common for women to find that they sweat more during pregnancy, body odour problems are not set to be an increasing problem. This is because your body actually makes less apocrine perspiration (the sweat responsible for unpleasant odours under the arms, breasts and around the genitals) during pregnancy.
What you need to do
Are you getting enough Iron? It is really important for the baby's development of red blood cells, and it is practically impossible to get too much of it from food even if you are also taking a prenatal vitamin supplement (make sure that any supplements that you are taking are recommended for pregnancy). Examples of foods rich in iron include beef, turkey, spinach and pumpkin seeds. To further enhance the absorption of iron into your body, ensure that you are also getting enough vitamin C. An easy way to do this is to drink a glass of fruit juice with your meals, or when taking your supplement. If you are taking a supplement that contains iron and you find that you are suffering from constipation then speak to your doctor; they will be able to recommend an iron-free pregnancy supplement and a separate iron supplement that is less likely to cause such problems.
Did you know that your baby is consuming some of the amniotic fluid every day? This is for nutrition and hydration but also so that they can practice the act of swallowing. The taste of the amniotic fluid is affected by what you eat, so eating a varied diet has more than just nutritional benefits, it is also exposing your baby to a range of different tastes - which some say will help him or her to eat a more varied diet once they are weaned. Prepare yourself for their first dirty nappy though. The accumulation of waste from the consumption of amniotic fluid sits in the bowel. This is called meconium and it will be very dark and sticky, like tar. It is worth knowing this now so that you are not alarmed when the time comes for their first bowel movements!
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