Welcome to your week 21 pregnancy update where we outline the changes you and your baby are experiencing.
Has baby given you a good kick yet? His nervous and muscular systems are finally developed enough to kick out his legs and stretch. Baby’s muscles, nerves and skeletal structures are continually developing in your womb, and you may even notice distinct periods when baby is awake and moving. Baby will have his own athletics programme going on in your belly, stretching, grasping and turning around to build up his muscles, improve his motor skills and strengthen his body in time for his entry into the world. It’s likely that slim women and second-time mums-to-be will feel their babies sooner than first-time mums-to-be. Don’t stress if you haven’t felt a kick yet – it should come in the next week or two.
Baby is now roughly the size of a banana, so he’s growing strong. He still spends the majority of time sleeping and his eyelids are still fused shut. His lungs and digestive system still need more time to come to maturity, and he is developing more brown fat under his skin to regulate his body temperature. Your baby’s hair follicles are now pigmenting to give them hair colour, looking dark, fair or red!
This is an important time for sensory development since each of the senses – taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch – are also developing into their specialised area of the brain. He is also developing rapid eye movement (REM); a key component to any healthy baby’s sleep schedule, that indicates he’s now capable of dreaming.
Just like adults, all babies are different and develop at varying rates in the womb. This information gives a general idea of your baby’s development and progress.
The Mum Update
In addition to your growing uterus, other parts of your body continue to change and grow. You may notice swelling in your lower legs and feet, particularly at the end of the day. If you’re on your feet a lot, you may notice less swelling if you’re able to get off your feet and rest for a while during the day.
75% of all pregnant women suffer from swollen fingers, ankles and feet. Some women experience pain when various parts of their body swell. If your feet swell, wear pregnancy support stockings to help keep blood from pooling in your feet. You may find swelling gets worse late in the day because of fluid retention.