21 Weeks Pregnant

What’s happening this week

Your baby…

    • weighs in at around 369 grams
    • the intestines are now able to absorb sugars from the amniotic fluid that is swallowed.  Most nourishment though is still from the placenta
    • until now the liver and spleen have been responsible for blood cell production, the bone marrow spaces now contribute to blood cell formation.

You…

    • may feel achey in the abdomen as the ligaments either side of the uterus stretch as the baby grows
    • can feel the top of your uterus in your abdomen – it may reach somewhere near your belly button by now
    • may notice some backache.

It can feel like you’re going to be pregnant forever! We offer you some tips to ease some common pregnancy discomforts.

Nosebleeds and blocked noses

Your nose may feel blocked, and even bleed if you blow it too energetically. Eat lots of foods containing vitamin C as this can help strengthen the blood vessels.You could also try dabbing some petroleum jelly around each nostril, to stop the skin drying out so easily.

Fainting and dizziness

If you feel light-headed, it’s because your body is working overtime. The hormones relax your body’s blood vessels, causing a drop in blood pressure, and this can make you feel faint.

Women often feel faint moving from a lying position to standing, like getting out of bed in the morning.  If this does happen try sitting with your legs over the side of the bed for a minute or two, before standing, so that the blood pressure can adjust.

If you skip a meal, you may feel light-headed, too.  Avoid standing up for long periods if you can, and eat regularly.  Carry a small snack or some fruit in your bag to keep you going.

Vaginal discharge and thrush

A clear or white discharge is normal during pregnancy. If it becomes thicker or yellowish, tell your LMC as you may have thrush. This is an infection in your vagina, that can be caused by the changing balance of hormones which makes the conditions right for thrush to grow. You may feel sore and itchy, too.  To avoid thrush, wear cotton knickers which will keep the area cool and dry, and don’t use scented soaps or bubble baths. The infection can be treated with anti-fungal medicines but ask your pharmacist – some treatments aren’t suitable for use during pregnancy.

Haemorrhoids

Sometimes called piles because they look like a little pile of grapes, haemorrhoids are varicose veins in your back passage. If you’ve noticed a lot of soreness or itchiness in the area, either irritating or painful, or even some bleeding, you might have piles.  To avoid piles, drink lots of fluids and take regular exercise. Apply an ice pack to relieve soreness, or your LMC may also prescribe a soothing cream. If there is bleeding, always check it out with your LMC.

Sore breasts

You may need to buy a larger bra as your pregnancy progresses, and keep trading up the sizes as your breasts grow! Underwire bras, unless specially fitted by an expert, are better worn by non-pregnant and non-lactating women.  Some stores offer bra-fitting services which can help you find the right bra for you.  Getting good support will ease the aching.

If any of these discomforts cause you major problems, talk to your LMC.

Holiday travel

The middle months are the best time to plan a holiday, whether it’s a trip somewhere special or a few days with your mother.  Make sure the travelling is manageable and break the journey up if you can.

Be extra careful about food hygiene if you are abroad. Avoid salads, ice creams and ice cubes in drinks in countries where you are not sure about the standard of cleanliness. And if you’re going somewhere warm, take care not to get too hot as it’s not good for you or the baby.  Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun as well, as it’s more sensitive in pregnancy.

Pregnant women are slightly more at risk of deep vein thrombosis or DVT (sometimes called ‘economy class syndrome’) on long haul flights than non pregnant women. Talk with your LMC before you take a long flight. You can ask their advice about wearing special socks or tights to help with circulation, or taking medication. There are several ways you can help yourself:

  • Make sure you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes
  • Get up and move around as often as you can
  • Stretch your legs and make ankle circling movements every half an hour to improve circulation.

Vaccinations

If you are travelling to North America or Europe, you probably won’t need any vaccinations, but if you’re travelling to Asia you need to consider your safety in regard to local diseases. Your LMC can advise you about which vaccinations are safe during pregnancy.

Teenage tip

If you’re still growing when you’re pregnant, as teenagers are, then you need more calcium than before to make your own bones and teeth strong as well as your baby’s. So two glasses of milk a day is a good start for both of you. Skimmed or semi-skimmed has the same amount of calcium as ordinary milk – but fewer calories. If you don’t like drinking milk try including yoghurt or hard cheese which also contains calcium, in your daily diet.