Breast milk is best for your baby

The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Unnecessary introduction of bottle feeding or other food and drinks will have a negative impact on breastfeeding. After six months of age, infants should receive age appropriate foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Consult your doctor before deciding to use infant formula or if you have difficulty breastfeeding.

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SECOND TRIMESTER / WEEK 21

21st Week of Pregnancy

Class Is In Session
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Baby's Growth and Development at 21 Weeks Pregnant

By your 21st week of pregnancy, not only have your baby's important systems developed, but many of them now are operating, in preparation for functioning on their own after birth:

  • Your baby might be about 7 inches in length, roughly the length of a carrot, by 21 weeks pregnant. She weighs almost 11 ounces.
  • Your baby's digestive system is put to work! By your 21st week of pregnancy, your baby has probably begun swallowing amniotic fluid and absorbing small amounts of sugar from it.
    • Sugars pass through her developed digestive system, giving these organs important practice.
    • These sugars only make up a tiny part of your baby's nourishment.
    • Most of her nutrition still is delivered through your placenta and the umbilical cord.
    • Your amniotic fluid changes day to day, based on what you've eaten. Since your baby is swallowing the fluid, she gets a "taste" of what you're eating!
  • Your baby’s bone marrow, rather than your baby’s liver and spleen, takes over its permanent job of making blood cells.
  • By your 21st week of pregnancy, your baby's arms and legs are in proportion.
  • As muscles strengthen and neurons connected to her brain continue to develop, her movements become more coordinated.

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Your Changing Body at 21 Weeks Pregnant

As you enter your 21st week of pregnancy, you start the second half of your pregnancy! This week and in those to come, you probably will notice many of the same changes you've experienced in previous weeks.

  • Your blood pressure might continue to remain slightly lower than normal. Expect it to return to normal by 25 weeks pregnant.
  • As long as you're taking in enough iron, your body makes more blood, including more red blood cells.
  • Your breasts may continue to grow larger and are probably already prepared to produce milk at 21 weeks pregnant!
    • You even might see tiny drops of watery or yellowish fluid appearing on your nipples, even this early. This is early breast milk, called colostrum.
    • Don't worry if your breasts do not leak at any time during pregnancy. That's normal and does not affect whether you are able to breastfeed after your baby's birth.
  • Although most women gain a pound a week during this time, you might notice that one week you gain a little more and another week a little less. The key is to keep your weight gain stable, overall.
  • Other common symptoms such as lower-back pain and vaginal discharge may continue during your 21st week of pregnancy.

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Wellness and Nutrition at 21 Weeks Pregnant

With an active baby growing inside, you might start to focus on the excitement of her birth to come. Continuing to eat right and exercise regularly now can make that big day easier.

  • Childbirth preparation class is one of the best ways for you and your partner to prepare for labor and delivery.
    • Your doctor can probably suggest classes that are a good match for the kind of birth you want.
    • Expectant parents usually take classes between months six and seven of pregnancy.
    • Classes often include six to eight weekly sessions or offer more condensed weekend options.
    • Trained childbirth educators provide comprehensive, helpful information about labor and delivery that extends well beyond breathing techniques.
    • It's an ideal way to learn more and ease any fears or apprehension you might feel.
  • Don't forget the iron! With your body hard at work producing red blood cells, your 21st week of pregnancy is a key time to be sure you are getting at least 30 mg of iron each day to avoid the risk of anemia.
  • Healthy teeth and gums: tips you can sink your teeth into!
    • This is one of the best times to keep a focus on your dental health. Don't let sensitive, even bleeding gums keep you from brushing, flossing, and caring for your teeth.
    • Switch to a softer toothbrush and keep regular dentist visits — just let them know you are pregnant.
    • You are more susceptible to gingivitis while pregnant, so be consistent with flossing.
    • Choose toothpaste with fluoride and avoid sugary snacks at times when you can't brush between meals. Your teeth and your post-pregnancy waistline both thank you!