You’ve made it to the halfway mark!
At 20 weeks, you’re feeling fully pregnant. Your belly is now a bump versus just bloated. Your appetite is back in full force. You may have even felt your little one moving and grooving in there.
Here’s what you need to know at this stage.
Changes in Your Body
Have you felt your baby move?
One of the wildest changes to your body this week might be those little pokes and jabs of your baby moving around in your uterus. This phenomenon is called quickening. Women who have already experienced childbirth probably started feeling these sensations a few weeks ago.
Your belly is getting much more noticeable these days. First-time moms may have only started showing in the last few weeks.
It can be quite a transition in your life because you might start getting comments and stares from total strangers. Brush them off and just feel good about yourself. You’re doing a great job growing that baby.
Speaking of growing, from this point forward, you may gain around a pound per week.
Your baby is about 6 1/3 inches long (160 millimeters) from crown to rump. Another way to look at it is that your baby is around the size of a banana.
Hair is already growing on your baby’s head and a fine, soft hair called lanugo is beginning to cover its body.
Those of you who have watched birthing shows or witnessed a birth probably saw the thick, whitish substance that covers baby’s body in the womb. This coating is called vernix caseosa, and it’s also starting to form this week. Vernix is a protective layer that shields the skin from the amniotic fluid.
Twin Development at Week 20
Your babies have grown to 6 inches long and about 9 ounces each. Take time to talk to them. They can hear you!
You may also have your anatomical scan this week. This ultrasound will check in on your babies’ health. You can usually learn the sex of your babies at this time as well.
You’re firmly in the middle of your second trimester and you should be feeling pretty good. Your appetite is likely back to normal, or it has increased.
Cravings for certain foods vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. Though you may have heard that pickle or ice cream cravings have something to do with your baby’s nutritional needs, that is just not true.
In an article published by Frontiers in Psychology, researchers examined several hypotheses for cravings. The nutritional deficit idea doesn’t hold up because the vast majority of foods craved by women (sweets and high-fat eats) aren’t rich in vitamins and minerals. Keep eating your favorite foods in moderation.
Braxton-Hicks contractions (or false labor) can start this week as your body begins its early preparations for labor. They are nothing to worry about. These contractions are usually mild, and also unpredictable.
Sometimes you’ll get a few just from sitting in a weird position, walking around too much, or being dehydrated. Lying down and drinking water should quell stronger ones.
If you notice pain or can time these contractions at regular intervals, contact your doctor. It could be a sign of preterm labor, which is a potentially serious complication.
Things to Do This Week for a Healthy Pregnancy
You should be having your anatomical scan sometime very soon, if you haven’t already. This ultrasound examination is performed on the abdomen. It gives you a look at your baby from head to toe. The technician will go through all of the baby’s major organs and systems to see if they're functioning properly.
This exam can also give you information about your amniotic fluid levels, the location of your placenta, and even the sex of your baby. Many women choose to bring their partners or a special support person to this appointment.
This week is also a great time to start browsing around and signing up for childbirth and baby classes. Your hospital may conduct tours of the labor and delivery floor as well. Ask your care provider about any offerings in your area.
You can find private classes with a quick Internet search. Topics might include natural childbirth, labor techniques, breastfeeding, baby safety and CPR, big brother/big sister training, and more.
When to Call the Doctor
Remember, Braxton-Hicks contractions are common in pregnancy and typically nothing to worry about. Their function is to prepare your uterus for labor. These sensations should be mild and irregular. Any strong, painful, or regular contractions could be signs of preterm labor, especially if spotting or bleeding accompanies them.
If you do experience anything that warrants an extra appointment, you doctor will examine you, monitor any contractions, and offer treatment (bedrest, for example), if necessary.
20 Weeks to Go!
Congratulations on reaching this major milestone in your pregnancy. Your due date may still seem far away, but you’re making steady progress toward the finish line.
Continue to take care of yourself by eating well, exercising regularly, and sleeping soundly. Pretty soon all those tiny pokes will turn into kicks and rolls, and you might find it much harder to rest.