Is anyone else a little warm?
Where's the lavender oil?
Your physical changes this week
Don’t look too deep if you're searching for your belly button. If you've usually got an "innie" it's probably being pushed out a little by this stage. At 21 weeks of pregnancy, many women find their belly button is flat and at the same level as their surrounding skin. It may well pop out and become more prominent as the baby grows. Interestingly, belly buttons are another one of a mother's body parts which go through permanent change after pregnancy. So expect a little variation to what it used to look like.
Your breasts have probably stabilized in their growth by this stage and you've become used to their different appearance. Your nipples will become bigger, and the areolas will darken as your pregnancy progresses. Make sure you wear a comfortable, well-fitting and supportive bra. It is not uncommon to need to upsize maternity bras a couple of times through pregnancy. All these early changes in your breasts are nature's way of preparing your body for breastfeeding and producing milk.
You’ll notice you are starting to put on more weight than you have been for the last couple of weeks. In fact, over the next 10 weeks you are likely to gain almost half of your total pregnancy weight gain. Your baby is responsible for some of it of course because it's laying down more fat stores and muscle as well.
Craving strange things? If you start to look longingly at coal or charcoal in the fireplace or BBQ, or even sticks of chalk, don t think you're losing it. Craving non-edible foodstuff is known officially as "Pica" and although it seems strange, this may have its origins in something more fundamental. These substances can be a source of trace elements and your body is craving them for a reason. However, resist the temptation and put that chalk down. Instead, make sure you eat from a wide variety of food groups and look for texture as much as taste with what you're eating.
Your emotional changes this week
If you've had a child before, you may be wondering how on earth you could love another child as much as you do the first one. This is a common concern among pregnant women, and it can be very helpful to talk about it. Be reassured, babies are very good at helping their parents fall in love with them. Don’t agonize over endless possibilities; it takes away valuable energy from everyday pleasure.
Your baby's changes this week
Your baby's brain and muscles are working in synchronization this week which means there's intent behind those movements. You’ll find they're less jerky and random and seem to be more deliberate and stronger. If you lie in a particular position and your baby doesn’t like it, you may find them wriggling around so they can find their own comfortable space. They can be picky little things.
Your baby is constantly taking amniotic fluid into its mouth and swallowing it. This cycle of swallowing, digesting and then recycling the fluid as urine will take place throughout the rest of your pregnancy. Waste products are already forming in your baby's bowel, to be passed in their first bowel movement; known as meconium.
Tiny tooth buds for your baby's permanent teeth are starting to form in their gums from this week. If you live in an area where the water supply is fluoridated, your baby will be getting the benefits. The placenta will do a good job filtering out many substances, though fluoride is one of the proven compounds to be harmless when taken in safe doses.
Hints for the week
If you have cats and they use litter, excuse yourself from clean-up duty. Toxoplasmosis is a nasty parasitic disease transmitted in infected cat feces. If you’re digging in the garden or in places where cats may have been, wear gloves and wash your hands carefully when you’ve finished.
Avoid eating uncooked meat, unwashed fruit and vegetables and drinking unpasteurized milk because of the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.
Pull out the photo album and look at yourself and your partner as babies. Ask your parents what you were like and what they can remember of your temperament.
22 weeks pregnant is next.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.