Welcome to Scary Mommy’s pregnancy week by week guide! We’re here to give you all the info about what to expect when you’re expecting: be it week by week symptoms, your baby’s development, your changing body, or ultrasounds and appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about week 21.
Your Body at Week 21 Pregnant
At 21 weeks, you are in the sweet-spot of your second trimester, you’ve gained 13 to 15 pounds, but don’t stress out if it’s a little more or less than this. Every woman’s journey is different. It’s a good idea to get in moderate exercise to help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, help with swelling, aches and pains, and circulation. Always consult your doctor before trying a new form of exercise.
Nesting During Pregnancy
You know what they say: the first trimester is for French kissing the toilet; the third is for combating hemorrhoids and stopping your asshole from falling out of your body; and the second is for setting up shop before the baby gets here.
More energy, no nausea, and exciting to-do lists might have you cleaning and preparing for your little one, but did you know the urge to nest is highest for women who are expecting in late spring and summer? According to the American Pregnancy Association, that’s because the instinct to plan for baby coincides with our natural impulse to spring clean. This is a great time to prepare a nursery, set up your baby registry, and plan that babymoon. Because after all that work, you’re going to need a little R&R.
Your Baby at Week 21 Pregnant
At 21 weeks pregnant, your little one is 10 ½ inches long and a hefty 11 ounces, or about the size of a delicious bread bowl. Your baby is developing sleep cycles in utero and as they grow, they will be sleeping as much as a newborn, or roughly 90 percent of the time.
While all may look calm on the surface, there’s a lot of practice for breathing, swallowing, sucking, kicking going on inside your uterus. Baby can now taste that spicy taco you had last night. You know, the one that gave you heartburn and kept you up half the night.
The eyelids have finished forming, meconium is being produced, and the baby’s senses are developing. That includes their ability to feel and respond to touch. If you softly press on your belly, your baby just might give you a high-five back.
Your Symptoms and Health at Week 21 Pregnant
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions might also be more noticeable. As long as contractions aren’t severe or consistent, you’re probably fine. If you find yourself in pain or notice that your contractions aren’t stopping, call your doctor — you might be in preterm labor.
By the start of the second trimester, you may notice your breasts are larger and fuller without feeling sore, tender, and painful to the touch. They are preparing for milk production and may increase in as much as a cup size and a half by the time you give birth.
Aches and Pains
As your baby grows and your baby bump is on full display, your body takes all these changes in weight and balance and shifts along with it. As you grow bigger, the hormone relaxin is released to, well, relax the joints and ligaments in your pelvis, causing some back or joint pain. Per the Mayo Clinic, stretches, physical activity, a belly support band, and proper posture might alleviate some of that discomfort.
Congratulations, your appetite is back just in time for your esophagus to feel like it’s on fire. Heartburn is a common pregnancy symptom during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, and that’s because hormones like progesterone and relaxin slow down digestion and relax esophageal muscles, which in turn allows acid to make its way back up.
Thankfully, there’s something you can actively do to lessen just how bad the heartburn is. Avoid spicy or greasy foods, have several small meals during the day instead of large ones, avoid lying down right after eating, and elevate your head at night.
Second Trimester Headaches
While you should never shrug off pain and discomfort, the increase in blood volume results in pregnancy headaches for some women. This symptom is usually caused by dehydration, posture, caffeine withdrawal, and blood flow and you should consult your OB if they persist and before you take any medication.
Contact your doctor right away if you are experiencing severe headaches during pregnancy, especially your third trimester, since it might be connected to high blood pressure and a sign of preeclampsia.
Braxton Hicks contractions are usually even more noticeable at this point when you’re home to twins. As we said above, if contractions aren’t severe or consistent, it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if you’re concerned and contractions won’t quit, call your healthcare provider immediately. With twins, premature birth is much more common so the signs of preterm labour are definitely something to watch out for.
The contents of this article have been medically reviewed by Ruth A. Tessler, M.D. in July, 2019.
Written by Maia Efrem.
Follow Preggo Nancy’s pregnancy journey week-by-week and share in her joy, her symptoms, and even her pregnancy cravings.