You’ve made it to the halfway mark! At 20 weeks, your belly is now a bump vs. bloated. Your appetite is back in full force. You may have even felt your baby moving.
Here’s what you need to know at this stage:
Have you felt your baby move? One of the changes in your body this week might be those little pokes and jabs you feel when your baby moves around in your uterus. This is called quickening. Women who have already experienced childbirth probably started feeling these sensations a few weeks ago.
Your belly is also getting much more noticeable these days. First-time moms may have only started showing in the last few weeks. And from this point forward, you may gain around a pound per week.
Your baby is about 6 1/3 inches long 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 their body.
If you’ve watched birthing shows or witnessed a birth, you probably saw the thick, whitish substance that covers a baby’s body in the womb. This coating is called vernix caseosa, and it’s starting to form this week. Vernix is a protective layer that shields your baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid.
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 also usually learn the sexes of your babies.
You’re in the middle of your second trimester. Your appetite is likely back to normal, or it has increased. While nausea and fatigue may have disappeared during your second trimester, by week 20 of your pregnancy some symptoms you may experience or continue experiencing include:
- body aches
- stretch marks
- skin pigmentation
Other symptoms you may be experiencing include:
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, it isn’t true.
In an article published by Frontiers in Psychology, researchers examined several hypotheses for cravings. The nutritional deficit idea doesn’t hold up because most foods women crave (sweets and food high in fat) aren’t rich in vitamins and minerals. So, 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. These contractions are usually mild, unpredictable, and nothing to worry about.
Sometimes you’ll get a few contractions 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.
You may have already had a second ultrasound with an anatomical scan. 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 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. This is also the time to start attending classes on breastfeeding and caring for your baby.
You can find private classes doing a quick internet search. Search topics might include natural childbirth, labor techniques, breastfeeding, baby safety and CPR, big brother/big sister training, and more.
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.
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.