Pregnancy week by week:
What to expect Week 21-24

Pregnancy Week by Week: What to Expect Week 21-24

At 21 weeks, you are a little over halfway through your pregnancy journey. The baby, who is now more than five months in, is getting bigger and bigger in the womb, and you can feel them as they explore their environment.

From 21 weeks on, your little one’s kicks will become stronger and more frequent as they swim around in the amniotic fluid while growing. This will go on until your little one gets too big for your womb and is ready to come out towards the end of the third trimester.

This installment of our Pregnancy Week by Week series will cover weeks 21 to 24. These are also called the large breasts pregnancy weeks because your breasts will keep getting bigger and bigger. You may start to feel some discomfort in your neck as your spine tries to adjust to the weight gain. Wearing a comfortable nursing bra can help alleviate some of this tension.

Week 21

What to expect for baby

Your little one at 21-weeks has a crown to heel length of about 10.5in / 26.7cm and weighs around 12 ounces or 340 grams. They still have some space in the womb which gives them the freedom to turn easily. You can expect to feel a lot more movement from them starting this week.

Your baby is also starting to develop taste buds, allowing them to taste the food you eat as they swallow a small portion of the amniotic fluid every day, practicing their swallowing and digesting. This also aids in nourishment and keeping the baby hydrated.

Since their limbs are finally in proportion and their neurons are connecting, they have a lot more control of their limb movement, which explains the kicking and stretching you now constantly feel.

What to expect for mom to be

You may have started to notice some colored stretch marks appearing all over your body. These streaks begin to appear as your tummy and breasts enlarge, causing the supportive skin tissue to tear as they stretch.

As your little one starts to kick you more, the reality of pregnancy will finally set in for you (if it hasn’t already!). For some women, this can lead to a level of anxiety. This is completely normal and some experts even say it is healthy. Consider talking to a friend or family member who has also gone through pregnancy about your anxieties. They will give you a lot of insight that will help make things easier for you. You can also sign up for pregnancy classes or participate in online forums. Above all else, be sure to discuss your fears with your partner.

Tip of the week

Your body has 50% more blood and fluid than pre-pregnancy. This causes your feet and ankles to swell. To help with this, schedule some time throughout the day and elevate your legs to release the pressure.

Week 21 will probably be spent getting your home ready for your little one. Just don’t go overboard as there are some things that you probably won’t need for months after the baby is born. No need to obsess over it at this time.

Week 22

What to expect for baby

At 22 weeks, your baby’s tear ducts begin to develop. You can expect them to be put to good use once your little one is born!

This week, you can hear your baby's heartbeat through a stethoscope. Your little one’s heartbeat is distinguishable from your own heartbeat as it is faster at 110 to 160 beats per minute.

Your baby’s skeleton continues to harden, requiring more calcium. Their hands now move independently, and they can touch one hand with the other and grasp the umbilical cord.

What to expect for mom to be

Because your baby is growing so fast, it may start to feel like your abdomen is filling up. You’ll start to feel out of breath and get back pains. Your stretch marks will start becoming more visible over the next few weeks.

For a while, it may feel like you are experiencing a new symptom every week. Typical second-trimester stuff: leg cramps, food cravings, and nasal congestion are common occurrences.

You may not feel it, but your uterus begins to contract from 20 weeks onwards. These contractions will become more frequent over the course of your pregnancy. Referred to as Braxton-Hicks contractions, they are considered practice contractions and are mild and irregular. However, expect a few somewhat intense ones every once in a while.

Tip of the week

As your child's bones develop, calcium is very crucial. Experts recommend taking 1,000 mg of calcium each day. You can pull this off by taking your prenatal vitamins daily as directed by your doctor and eating foods rich in calcium, such as green leafy vegetables and dairy products.

If you want to remember these developments, this is the time to plan any professional pregnancy photoshoots. If you can, schedule a third-trimester session to capture your belly at its largest.

Week 23

What to expect for baby

Your baby is now the size of a grapefruit and over 1 pound in weight. They’ll be constantly gaining weight and getting better at muscle coordination over the next few weeks. By week 23, they’ll have now developed all the organs necessary to survive outside the womb.

Blood vessels in the lungs have developed in anticipation for breathing outside the uterus while their hearing has strengthened as the middle ear bones are hardening. Your baby can now hear what’s going on in the world around them and react to it.

What to expect for mom to be

By now, your baby bump is clearly visible. You may start to notice bleeding in your gums while you brush your teeth, and your ankles will continue to swell.

Headaches and migraines are also common due to muscle tension in your shoulders and neck. A shift in the spine causes tension as it grows accustomed to holding the weight of your growing baby.

On the plus side, your morning sickness will have started to subside. However, you will still be sensitive to particular smells and tastes that might make you nauseous.

Because of your discomfort and anxiety, you can also expect some insomnia this week.

Tip of the week

Now is the perfect time to start preparing a delivery plan. Consult with your physician about your desired delivery method and where you would like to deliver your baby. Take care of your insurance at around this time and make sure you are covered and make any financial adjustments you may need to before the baby comes.

Week 24

What to expect for baby

The little one is now six months along, weighing about .3 pounds and gaining weight at a constant rate of 6 ounces a week. The growth primarily stems from the developing bones, muscles, and organs.

Their face is now fully formed, with visible hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. The baby can hear noises from outside. They can also hear noises from your body, such as gastric gurgles in your tummy and deep breathing from your lungs. You can start to talk to the baby as they grow accustomed to your voice.

What to expect for mom to be

Week 24 comes with several late-pregnancy discomforts such as leg cramps, backaches, and swollen feet. You’ll be fine, though, just think about how well your baby is doing!

You might start to notice your belly button has popped out as your uterus pushes everything as it swells. Don't worry if your innie is now an outie. Things will return to normal after delivery.

Your wrists and fingers might start to feel numb. This could be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. The numbness results from fluids that accumulate in the body being distributed all over the body, and when the fluids reach your hands, they put pressure on the nerve that goes through your wrist, causing numbness, tingling, and pain in your hands and fingers. Nothing to worry too much about though; this too shall pass.

Tip of the week

The doctor will recommend a glucose screening at this stage to rule out gestational diabetes. You will need to eat a healthier diet, exercise frequently, and monitor your blood sugar at home if you are found to be suffering from this temporary condition.

Final Thoughts

These past few weeks have brought with them a lot of changes and transformations. The good news is that the chances of a miscarriage have now gone down dramatically. Be sure to visit your healthcare provider regularly so they can give you even more insight into the changes happening to you and your little one.

Angelia Smith - Feb. 24 2022


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