20 Weeks - Pregnancy
Twenty weeks is the halfway point to holding your baby in your arms. Are you ready yet? Your baby is working on getting ready. While his rapid growth stage is almost over, the next stage is imperative for his survival outside of the womb.
Your baby is now about 6 ½ inches long from crown to rump and weighs 10 ½ ounces, almost a pound! She is about 10 inches long from head to toe. This week, your baby’s heart grows stronger. If you lie down flat on your back, locate your pulse, and put your hand over your belly, you may be able to hear her pulse as well.
Her body becomes well covered in vernix (the white cheese-like coating which protects her skin from the amniotic fluid), giving her skin that baby-soft feel after she’s born and bathed.
She is practicing swallowing every day, and has a good amount of meconium stored up in her bowels. Meconium is a black gooey substance that will make up your baby’s first bowel movement when she’s born.
Her immunities are beginning to develop, as your body transfers antibodies to hers. These antibodies will also be transferred to your baby with breastfeeding, keeping her out of harm’s way from viruses and infections. To learn more about breastfeeding, read our article – Benefits of Breastfeeding.
Your baby’s senses are developing, and she can begin to taste, smell, hear, see, and touch. Nerve cells are continuing to make new connections every day in preparation for her big day. She already knows your voice, familiar music and other familiar voices, like Dad or Grandma.
Now that the top of your uterus is up at your belly button, you may be feeling a little awkward, and perhaps a bit breathless. As your uterus expands, your center of gravity changes. Watch your posture, as you may begin to unwittingly slouch or get your spine out of alignment. This can lead to back problems. When sleeping, be sure to sleep on your side, with a pregnancy pillow supporting your tummy, back, and legs. This will help alleviate back pain in the daytime and at night.
You have probably gained about ten pounds as of now. You should expect to gain about one pound per week from now on, but weight gain can vary. If you were underweight before pregnancy, you may gain more rapidly, whereas if you were overweight, you may gain less rapidly. Be sure not to lay off taking your prenatal vitamins, and be sure you have enough iron to prevent anemia.
What is that dark line that may appear below your belly button and down your abdomen? That was your linea alba, which was a light colored line that has always been there but invisible. Your hormones have turned it into a linea nigra, which is a dark line. Also, if you notice dark patches on your face (chloasma), this is sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy. It will eventually fade after delivery. Other weird skin happenings that may occur include skin tags, red palms, and soft or brittle nails.
Are we having fun yet? If you’re tired of all the strange symptoms and annoyances of being pregnant, cheer yourself up by signing up for a childbirth education class and a tour of the Birth Center. Even if you know everything there is to know about labor and delivery, you’ll meet lots of couples that are going through the same things as you. It always helps to have a sympathetic ear, and it can get you and your partner excited about having your baby.
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This should be used as a general guideline and is for general information and educational purposes only. Please remember that all pregnancies develop at different rates. If you have questions about your baby's development, please contact your doctor or midwife.