Pregnancy Tracker: Week 20

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 20




Congratulations! Week 20 means you are halfway through your pregnancy, although statistics show that most mums-to-be don’t deliver exactly on their due date, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact midway mark. 

But knowing that you have reached this stage of your pregnancy should bring you tremendous relief and satisfaction as all the worry of miscarrying is behind you, as well as the awful debilitating symptoms of early pregnancy. Nausea and morning sickness are hopefully nothing more than vague memories; your appetite has returned, and with it, your energy levels are at an all-time high. And the biggest pleasure of all is feeling those little kicks and punches!

A big event this week will be your 20-week anatomy ultrasound scan at which you could find out the sex of your baby – if that is what you want to do! But more importantly the scan will check that your baby is developing accordingly by taking certain measurements and looking at baby’s organs.

The ultrasound (also called a sonograph) is a non-invasive procedure that creates images of your baby on a screen using high-frequency sound waves. This 20-week scan is a very thorough one, and can take up to an hour to complete, as your healthcare provider will want to take care to get the best images so as much information as possible can be gleaned.

This scan will look at absolutely everything to do with the health and development of your baby and your uterus.

It will:

  • Check on the head and spine
  • Measure baby’s limbs
  • Look at the growing organs
  • Check the amniotic fluid around baby
  • Check the positioning of the placenta
  • Identify the gender of baby, depending on how baby is lying

This scan can also help to identify markers for certain abnormalities, like Down’s Syndrome, heart defects, spina bifida, cleft palate and the like.  While this is a cause of great concern, it helps to know before the birth so that not only you can be prepared, but the medical team can also decide on the best steps to take.

Your baby is growing quite dramatically, and now weighs in at approximately 300g, and measures roughly 25cm from head to rump, and can be likened to the size of a artichoke.  What a long way baby has come since that first division of cells! But there is still a lot of development that needs to take place. All the vital organs are formed and functioning and continuing to mature.

You would be enthralled to know that your little baby is practicing the sucking reflex and could possibly even suck fingers and thumbs!  The taste buds are forming, and tiny teeth are beginning to grow inside the gums. Baby starts to develop patterns of sleep and wakefulness about now, and you may feel the little jerky movement of baby having a fit of hiccups!

Your 20-week pregnant body

You may be plagued by itchy skin on your breasts and belly as your body expands in all directions.  Try using cold packs and massaging in un-perfumed lotion to relieve the unpleasant symptoms. Avoid scratching, as this can make it worse. If a rash appears, or your feet and hands itch severely, bring this to the attention of your practitioner as it could be a sign of a liver condition that would need treatment.

Your body is enlarging along with the growth of your baby and the top of your uterus is now about level with your belly button. Speaking of belly buttons, you may notice that you now develop an ‘outie’ as your navel pops outwards due to pressure on the uterus. Your belly button may feel sensitive to touch or clothing rubbing on it, but if real pain is experienced it could indicate an umbilical hernia and should be reported to your doctor immediately. Rest assured your belly button will return to its normal position after delivery but may look a bit ‘stretched’.

You could now be feeling the effects of your expanding uterus pushing against your lungs, resulting in shortness of breath, especially if you are expecting twins. Increased hormones like progesterone can also be responsible for this as it triggers your brain to tell your lungs you need more air so that the baby gets enough oxygen.

Mostly shortness of breath is harmless to your baby as he is getting the necessary oxygen from your placenta. So slow down, take care to rest when you need to, and all will be well.  If, however, breathing difficulties continue, it could be a sign of anemia or asthma, and if chest pain is experienced, or a faster pulse noticed, contact your doctor immediately.

Not all pregnancy symptoms are negative

  • Your hair could be one area that really benefits from pregnancy, and some women report good hair growth at this time. This is due to higher levels of oestrogen and androgens and increased blood volume circulating through your system.
  • Sometimes mums-to-be also find their nails grow harder and stronger during pregnancy. Most of these symptoms return to normal after birth, so enjoy them while they last.
  • The increased hormones oestrogen, progesterone and hCH that are released during pregnancy, as well as an increase in blood volume and oil production from the sebum glands, can make an expectant mum’s skin appear flushed and glowing, giving her a healthy, bonny look.
  • Because of increased blood flow and lubrication, some pregnant women experience increased sex drive and better orgasms at 20 weeks pregnant. Sex during pregnancy is safe and beneficial for the majority of women; it keeps you active, releases hormones that make you feel happy and relaxed, and promotes a closeness with your partner, which is necessary at this time. If your tummy is getting in the way, experiment with different positions that will accommodate your growing belly. If you are uncertain about safety for the baby, chat to your healthcare provider.

Tips for the 20-week pregnancy mark

  • Treat yourself to something special to celebrate the midpoint of your pregnancy. Take the weight off your feet and enjoy a rejuvenating pedi or foot massage.
  • Book a photo shoot so you will have some lovely images to look back on after the baby is born. Some photographers come up with imaginative and amazing ideas for photos of you, your bump, and your partner.
  • Start a baby registry for friends and family who wish to contribute to your happy event. This will help you to keep you on track of what you have and what is still needed.
  • Give some thought to the planning of the nursery. This can be a fun activity that should include your partner.

“A mother’s joy begins when new life is stirring inside… when a tiny heartbeat is heard for the very first time, and a playful kick reminds her that she is never alone.”Author Unknown

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