Baby's Growth and Development at 20 Weeks Pregnant
When you’re 20 weeks pregnant, your baby begins to grow more rapidly, gaining weight and length. Consequentially, the brain weight and volume increases in tandem. Your baby is moving around and you may be able to feel it. Baby development includes:
- When you’re 20 weeks pregnant, your baby measures about 6”, about the length of an eggplant, and weighs about half a pound.
- Your baby’s skin thickens and develops layers under the vernix during the 20th week of pregnancy.
- His hair and nails continue to grow.
- His limbs are well developed when you’re 20 weeks pregnant.
- Your baby is moving and you can feel it. Make a note of when you felt these movements start and let your doctor know.
1 Week 14: 40 grams; http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/fetal-development/art-20046151 (Accessed on 22nd July 2016); Week 26: 820 grams; http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy- lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/fetal-development/art-20046151?pg=2 (Accessed on 22nd July 2016); Week 40: 2900 grams; http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/fetal-development/art-20045997?pg=2 (Accessed on 22nd July 2016)
2 Roelfsema et al (2004)
Your Changing Body at 20 Weeks Pregnant
Congratulations. You’re officially halfway through your pregnancy! Physical changes in your body continue at 20 weeks pregnant, including:
- As your baby grows, your body adjusts to his size. By your 20th week of pregnancy, organs are beginning to be pushed out of their normal places by your growing uterus, which now reaches your navel.
- Your intestines are the first organs to shift due to your enlarging uterus.
- As your uterus expands and your weight increases, you might experience a change in your center of gravity. Try these tips for managing the shift.
- Your rate of urination may slow. Go often to minimize the risk of a urinary tract infection. Remember, you can lean forward to help completely drain your bladder. Don’t rush!
- Vaginal discharge might slightly increase around your 20th week of pregnancy. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about vaginal infection. It can be treated during pregnancy.
- As tension increases on muscles and ligaments surrounding your growing uterus, you might experience some aches, particularly in your lower abdomen or back.
- One specific type of pain is called round ligament pain. The round ligament is one of the ligaments that holds your uterus in place. During pregnancy, it stretches and thickens to accommodate your growing uterus.
- If you make a sudden move or reach for something quickly, you might experience round ligament pain, a sharp but temporary cramp in your lower pelvic area. Round ligament pain also can be triggered by exercise.
- Contact your doctor if back pain is particularly severe and does not subside, if it significantly limits your routine, or if cramping continues.
Your Body in Balance!
By your 20th week of pregnancy, your expanding belly and a uterus that now is heavier and higher are working together to change your body's center of gravity.
- You might feel like you're going to fall over at times. This is not unusual.
- You might unconsciously be adjusting your posture and how you walk or move.
- The lower portion of your spine might be beginning to curve backward slightly to help you compensate for your change in gravity. This can lead to additional strain on your back muscles.
- As your increasing uterus and abdomen begin to place more strain on your back muscles, you might want to weave the pelvic tilt into your daily routine.
Wellness and Nutrition at 20 Weeks Pregnant
By your 20th week of pregnancy, you probably have a regular routine of eating well and exercising routinely. See what research says about the benefits of nutrition during pregnancy as well as exercises you can do to prepare for labor and delivery.
- According to research, nutrition in utero and childhood can play a role in your baby’s health in many ways.
Short-term health effects include:
- Brain development
- Growth and body composition
- Metabolic programming
Long-term health effects include:
- Cognitive and educational performance
- Physical strength, immunity
- Risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure
- Kegel Exercises: Easing Your Way to Labor and Delivery
Kegels are a simple and discreet exercise that can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, including the muscles around your vagina, urethra, and anus. Kegels help stop urine from leaking (like when you sneeze or laugh) and can help prepare you for delivery. Studies show that Kegels also might reduce the chances of an episiotomy during birth.
You can do Kegels whether you’re sitting, standing, or reclined.
- Squeeze or tense the muscles around your vagina and anus, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Don’t actually stop the flow, though.
- Hold for 10 seconds and release.
- Repeat 10 to 20 times in a row, a few times throughout the day.
Like any exercise, you can increase both the hold time and repetition as you build stamina.