Overview

Your 21st week of pregnancy is another milestone. You’ve crossed the halfway mark!

Here’s what to expect for you and your baby this week.

Changes in your body

You’re probably noticeably pregnant by this point. You may have started wearing maternity or larger clothes to accommodate your growing belly.

Your baby is moving frequently and you should be feeling their movements, although they may be light and difficult to recognize.

Your baby

week 21 baby

Your baby is over 8 1/2 inches long from crown to heel, and weighs around 12 ounces. This is about the size of a carrot.

This week, your baby’s eyes can open. Your baby can also swallow amniotic fluid, and their tiny finger and toe prints may be noticeable.

Twin development at week 21

The halfway point in your pregnancy is a great time to start planning the nursery. You might be wondering if you’ll need two cribs. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using the same sleep area for multiple babies. Each baby should have their own sleep space for safety reasons.

21 weeks pregnant symptoms

Many women continue to feel physically content throughout their second trimester, but some uncomfortable symptoms still may occur by week 21. Your breasts may have gotten bigger and you may experience stretch marks. You may also experience additional symptoms including:

Varicose veins

As your uterus expands, you might develop varicose veins in your legs, vulva, or rectum. These may remain after delivery, although in many cases they improve or disappear after a short period.

To prevent or reduce the appearance of varicose veins, you may try any or all the following:

  • Elevate your legs higher than your heart.
  • Don’t sit or stand in one place for long periods. Take frequent breaks and walk around.
  • Maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.
  • Prevent constipation by eating adequate fiber, drinking ample fluids, and using a physician-approved stool softener if necessary.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common as your pregnancy progresses. This is often due to the extra weight of the uterus on the bladder, which can block urine flow. Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent this. Don't delay when you feel the urge to urinate. Learn more about how to treat a UTI during pregnancy.

Be on the lookout for UTI symptoms such as:

  • pain or burning during urination
  • frequent urination (more than what is normal for you)
  • urgency to urinate
  • pubic area pain or cramping
  • chills
  • fever
  • cloudy and/or foul-smelling urine

Most UTIs are successfully treated with antibiotics your doctor prescribes, which are also safe for the baby.

If a UTI is untreated, infection may spread to the kidneys. Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • back pain
  • chills
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting

A kidney infection during pregnancy is an emergency. It may cause premature labor or low birth weight.

Acne and oily skin

You may experience increased skin breakouts. This may be due to hormones causing an overproduction of oil.

To combat increased acne, try these steps:

  • Wash your face with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water in the morning and evening, and after exercise.
  • Use oil-free cosmetics.
  • Wash oily hair daily.

Things to do this week for a healthy pregnancy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that women should gain 2 to 4 pounds per month in the second trimester. You don’t need to double your food intake to hit your weight gain goals.

Women of normal weight before conceiving only need about 300 extra calories a day to support a healthy pregnancy. If you’re struggling with your diet, consider consulting a nutritionist.

If you haven’t already signed up for childbirth classes, now is a good time. You may also want to start planning your baby’s nursery and layette. It will likely be easier to take care of these tasks now before your belly grows to a point at which they are more challenging.

Some women are concerned about having sex during pregnancy, especially as the pregnancy progresses and your baby grows. Sex is safe for you and your baby during an uncomplicated, normal-risk pregnancy. In fact, thanks to increased blood flow, you may enjoy sex more.

But if you have a high-risk pregnancy, make sure to consult your doctor about the safety of sexual activity.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • increased vaginal discharge
  • discharge with odor
  • fever
  • chills
  • pain with urination
  • low abdominal pain or cramping

It’s also important to care for your emotional and physical health. Hormones, physical discomfort, and managing a job or other children at home may all cause stress. Some stress is normal, but if you experience chronic stress, it may impact your baby.

If you feel that your stress is out of the ordinary, call your doctor. Counseling may be helpful. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation may also help you manage stress.

A time of rapid change

Now that you’re well into your second trimester and probably feeling your baby move, you’re facing the reality that you will soon be a mom. Most women feel a surge of energy and are less uncomfortable this week. Enjoy planning for your baby’s arrival. And check out the best pregnancy exercise apps of 2016.