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Fetal development: Week 21

A strengthening heartbeat

Posted: 27 May 2005
by ThinkBaby

20-week fetus - Image courtesy of Babybond
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Your baby is now around 19 centimetres long and weighs about 300 grammes, around 0.6lbs. Her heartbeat is much stronger now and you may be able to feel it yourself if you lie quietly and rest one hand on your abdomen. Your partner may be able to hear the heartbeat if he places his ear on your tummy.

By now her skin become more opaque and is well covered with vernix. She’s beginning to prepare her immune system by forming white blood cells, or leukocytes, to help fight disease and infections, and you are passing on your own immune cells to protect her from viruses you’ve already had for the first few months out of the womb.

You baby is continuing to put fat onto her bones in preparation for birth and her legs are growing to their proportional length – so get ready for her kicks to grow stronger over the coming weeks.

What’s happening with Mum?
By now you’ve probably begun to show enough for other people to notice your pregnancy and may have put on between 4.5 and 6.5 kilos.

You might experience some swelling in your ankles and feet as you become heavier, you can help temper this by drinking plenty of water and resting with your legs elevated. Better news is that the blood supply will also increase to your clitoris, so you may find that sex is particularly enjoyable at this stage of your pregnancy and some women even experience their first orgasms or multiple orgasms. On the other hand you may be completely turned off sex, which is also perfectly normal. Discussing how you feel about sex honestly with your partner can help you both work through this time of your pregnancy if one or the other of you is not interested in sex.

NB: All pregnancies are different and fetal growth rates vary, this is meant only as an approximate guide to development. If you have any concerns about your developing pregnancy then speak to your doctor.

Caring for your pregnancy

Calcium intake - Calcium is one of the most important minerals for pregnant women, yet many pregnant women simply don't get enough.

Pregnancy for dads - If your partner has been a bit slow to realise his role in pregnancy so far then it's time to nudge him in the direction of this article.

Pregnancy experiences

How to prepare for a girl? - Hi all I have a boy who is nearly five and though I hoped for another one it looks as though I maybe having a girl. Help. I have no idea how to cope with changing girls. Is my house going to turn pink overnight? Georgina's a little worried, but there's plenty of good advice for her on the forum.

Why not join in the discussions and share pregnancy experiences and advice with other ThinkBaby members in the pregnancy folder?

If you haven't already started your own pregnancy blog it's not too late to start one now. You can email the web address to family or just keep it to yourself. Here's where to start your own blog?

Other weeks

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Fetal development: Week 22
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Fetal development: Week 20

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Discuss this story

Hi Everybody!

I want to ask your advice....Would you have found it helpful too have been given a directory of foods which are safe to eat.  Ie if you have allergies or asthma in your family then you should avoid peanuts during preganancy, which foods contain unpasterised milk, ie some feta cheeses are allowed and some are not.  I know how important oily fish is for the healthy development of the babies brain but then the guidelines restrict the amount of fish because of the mercury content. So fresh tuna is restricted but tinned tune is fine.  All in all I found it all quite confusing.  I am actually a state registered dietitian by background and thought i knew quite a bit about food! However when it came to being pregnant i found myself questioning everything.  I often wondered if other pregnant women have the same concerns about foods. Which leads me back to my question  'Would it be useful to have available a directory of foods which are 'safe'. I would appreciate your honest thoughts. 

Posted: 19/01/2009 at 14:07


 I would say that my midwife did give me a little leaflet thing about what I should and  shouldn't be eating but it wasn't until I was 10 weeks pregnant and before that it was mostly guess work - what other people had told me and what I found on the net, so yes a bit of info early on would have been great - obviously the first 3 months are a vital stage in the development of the brain and so on - and I was totally oblivious!

 Hope that helps

Posted: 19/01/2009 at 21:56

Talkback: Fetal development: Week 21

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