20 Weeks Pregnant

image001You are now 20 weeks pregnant. It is the middle of your pregnancy. You may be feeling more energetic and better (though some females may still feel some fatigue and pain) at this time as the pregnancy symptoms of nausea, morning sickness and fatigue are now getting over. This week will bring with it many exciting developmental changes in your baby.

What Are the Pregnancy Symptoms at 20 Weeks?





Dizzy or light-headed

You may develop symptoms of dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing, especially for a long duration. This happens because during standing for long duration, the blood pools in your legs, thereby, causing a drop in your blood pressure.

If you are required to stand for a long period of time, make sure to take frequent breaks to rest and sit down. Wearing low heeled shoes that have a good arch support is also important. If your work is such that you have to stand for prolonged periods, use support stockings and also talk to your boss about taking short breaks after every three hours.

Skin changes

You may develop areas of skin darkening in your body, such as your areolas may darken. The color of your already present moles and freckles may darken or you may develop new moles. This happens due to hormonal changes that causes a temporary increase in the melanin pigment.

The skin darkening will gradually disappear after your baby is born. While during pregnancy, you can wear sunscreen creams before going outside.

The mask of pregnancy

Also known as chloasma, the mask of pregnancy is yet another side effect that occurs due to increased melanin. It is a common pregnancy symptom that occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy. You may develop dark splotches on your face, around nose, cheekbones, on the forehead, chin and upper lip.

The mask of pregnancy will gradually fade away after your baby is delivered. To minimize the formation of chloasma, ensure to avoid direct sunlight as UV rays from sunlight may further darken the pigmentation.

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are a normal symptom of pregnancy. These are false contractions that come and go. These contractions are more frequent in occurrence as you go further in your pregnancy.

For most females these contractions are usually painless and hence are not bothersome. However, you should immediately contact your physician if you develop painful contractions that are occurring at regular intervals and are getting closer. These may be a sign that you are going into preterm labor.

Sleep problems

Though you will feel more rested and energetic during the second trimester, still you may develop sleep problems. The two common ones are restless leg syndrome (RLS) and snoring.

Most of the drugs that are prescribed for RLS are not allowed during pregnancy. You can use hot or cold packs, take a warm bath or stretch your legs to find relief from RLS. To avoid snoring, you can try sleeping on your side with head elevated, as sleeping on your back may cause obstruction of your airflow leading to snoring. You can use a wedge shaped pillow that has an added neck and support for head. It can help keep your airways open, thereby, preventing snoring. You can also use a lubricating spray to lubricate your nasal passages as this will reduce throat tissue vibrations. You can also use a nasal strip to lift and dilate your nostrils for easy breathing.

Weight gain

If you started at your ideal weight before pregnancy, then by this time, you may have gained around 12 to 13 pounds or more. You should remember that each female gains weight differently. You should always focus on your total weight gain, which is 25 to 35 pounds for a woman of an average size.

Continue eating a regular well-balanced meal that includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins.

Abdominal itching

Abdominal itching is very common during this phase. It occurs as your skin stretches due to the growth of your uterus.

You can apply moisturizers regularly to help reduce the itching.

How Does Your Baby Grow When You're 20 Weeks Pregnant?

Your baby’s length at this stage is 6-1/2 inches from head to bottom and 10 inches from head to toe; her/his weight is about 10-1/2 ounces, about the size of a banana. The baby’s length is measured from crown to rump before 20 weeks and from head to toe after 20 months. Her/His swallowing increases, which is good for the digestive system. Meconium is also produced at this stage, which is a black, sticky waste of digestion. Meconium gets accumulated in your baby’s bowels and she/he will pass this at her/his first bowel movement after birth. Some babies may pass meconium even in the womb or during the process of delivery.

You can watch this video and get more information about how your baby grows when you are 20 weeks pregnant:

How Does Your Life Change When You're 20 Weeks Pregnant?

You are halfway through your pregnancy. The upper portion of your uterus has reached the level of your navel and you may have probably gained about 10 pounds. You will start gaining around one pound per week from now on. If you were underweight before pregnancy, then you may have to gain a bit more and if you were overweight then a bit less. It is very important to take sufficient iron at this stage as it is required for the production of hemoglobin--a compound that carries oxygen. During pregnancy, you need more iron not only to keep up your increasing blood volume but also for your baby and the placenta. You should include red meat and poultry in your diet as they are good sources of iron. Some vegetarian sources of iron include soy-based products, legumes, spinach, raisins, prune juice and cereals fortified with iron.

What About Diet at 20 Weeks Pregnancy?

1. Food for Your Baby

Your baby requires sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D for the development of strong teeth and bones. You should drink at least 2 cups of milk that is fortified with vitamin D. You should also include fish in your diet as they supply both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Get half an hour of sun exposure every day to generate vitamin D. Ensure to wear sun protection and also not overdo the time of exposure.

2. Food for You

Eat plenty of foods that are rich in calcium such as dairy products as this mineral is required for maintaining nerve transmission and muscle contraction apart from maintaining the health of teeth and bones. Eating foods rich in calcium also lowers your risk of developing preeclampsia. The following foods are rich in calcium: Apricots (dried), almonds, low fat cheese, chickpeas, baked beans, low fat milk, tahini, tofu, low fat yoghurt, spinach, and canned fish with bones.

3. Snacks and Drinks

Try to snack on fruits, fruit juice or milk. You can also eat dried apricots, low fat cottage cheese and almonds as snacks. Have milk or herbal tea if you feel hungry at bedtime. You should drink at least six to eight glasses of each day apart from other beverages you are drinking.

What Can You Do When You're 20 Weeks Pregnant?

1. Start a Birth Plan

It is good time to start a birth plan. Note down your preferences for delivery and what procedures you would like to be followed in case an emergency arises. Share your birth plan with your physician to get their inputs. This way you will feel more in control if things do not go as planned or complications develop.

2. Create a Baby Book

Start creating a baby book or journal in which you can note down your feelings, describe baby’s movements and paste pictures. This is a good tool, which will help you reflect your journey later when this is all over.

3. Develop a Healthy Lifestyle

To ensure the health of yourself and your baby, eat a well-balanced diet and engage in a regular exercise program.

4. Treat Yourself to Something Nice

You have reached halfway in your pregnancy. Hence, it is time to celebrate with something nice. If you need some ideas, read the following:

  • You can go for a prenatal massage or buy a new nightgown or pajamas or try scented candles.
  • You can get pictures of yourself clicked or you can buy a beautiful photo frame for the first picture of your baby after birth. You can keep in it the ultrasound picture for the meantime!
  • You can buy yourself a sexy piece of clothing or get a makeover at a saloon.

5. Tips for Your Partner

This is a great time to begin preparations for your baby’s nursery. Your partner can help you by:

  • Painting the nursery
  • Putting the bassinet/crib in the nursery
  • Doing shopping for baby clothes and toys
  • Cleaning closets or other storage areas so that the mom does not get the feeling of being cluttered.

The most important thing is to help the mom in any sort of way they can.

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