Pregnancy Week 21
Cramps, Aches & Pains! Oh My!
Your Baby's Growth and Development
By 21 weeks pregnant your baby may weigh as much as 10 ounces and is probably more than 7 inches long! That is roughly the length of a small banana. Your baby will continue to grow in the coming weeks at a very fast pace. Your baby's organs and central nervous system are working on maturing during 21 weeks pregnant and beyond.
During this week your baby's digestive system is also maturing and growing. Your baby's intestines for example are slowly contracting and relaxing this week. Your baby also begins practicing swallowing small amounts of amniotic fluid to help further mature the digestive system.
It isn't unusual for pregnant mothers to start noticing a rhythmic motion in their abdomen around
21 weeks pregnant and beyond. Many babies start hiccupping around this time. While it seems unusual, most babies hiccup during pregnancy. This is no cause for concern and for many women, is quite funny!
You'll probably notice your baby's hiccups as small, repetitive movements in your abdomen at 21 weeks pregnant. These movements will occur for a few minutes at a time. Later in your pregnancy as your baby becomes larger and stronger these movements will be a lot stronger. Some babies may hiccup several times every day while other baby's only hiccup sporadically.
Changes In Your Body
By pregnancy week 21 you may notice leg cramps or other aches and pains in your legs. These are quite common during pregnancy. Using a
pregnancy pillow or body pillow at night and elevating your legs during the day can often help reduce leg cramps during pregnancy. You might also try wearing
maternity support belts and maternity support hose during pregnancy. Put these on first thing in the morning before you get up out of bed. This often helps with pregnancy edema and discomfort in the ankles and legs during pregnancy.
I had to wear maternity support hose during all three pregnancies. I wore them to help with varicose veins primarily, but they also helped with pregnancy swelling.
Other ways you can help alleviate discomfort include stretching and exercising daily. If you feel a cramp coming on, try taking a break and stretching your calf or leg for a good 15 minutes.
One way to mitigate the discomforts of pregnancy is by investing in a full body
pregnancy pillow. If you have the time to shop for maternity support hose, you have the time to invest in the one pillow that will make the biggest difference in your comfort throughout your pregnancy and after. Varicose veins for example, are often relieved by elevation. You can elevate and support your legs easily by tucking your knees and legs around a supportive Snoozer pregnancy pillow, one that helps support full body circulation.
These pregnancy pillows may also help you cope with late night cramping in your legs or abdomen, common side effects of pregnancy resulting from the rapid changes in our body. Remember, the more you are able to relax during your pregnancy, the more likely your baby is too. Our babies pick up on our stress and discomfort while growing in the womb, so why not ease both your worries? I find nothing better than a supportive pillow to ease my aching legs and knees. As a bonus, by boosting circulation, chances are high you will find your pregnancy support pillow may help reduce edema in your legs and your knees.
Post Partum Depression
Many women will go through a short period of baby blues after delivering. This is very normal and usually only lasts a week or two. Having a baby brings on many mixed emotions. Most women experience joy in the moments following delivery. Exhaustion soon overcomes many new parents however, and this can sometimes lead to feelings of sadness or remorse. Occasionally women develop depression.
Roughly 80% of women develop some form of depression in the early weeks after delivery. This may be characterized by fatigue, anxiety, fear and irritability. If the baby blues do not lift however, and are accompanied by other changes, it is possible a woman is developing a more sever form of depression called postpartum depression or PPD.
PPD is very serious. It is sometimes accompanied by suicidal thoughts, and typically leads to a mother's inability to cope with a newborn baby. Signs and symptoms of PPD may include:
Persistent baby blues that do not lift after a couple of weeks.
Insomnia despite being exhausted or getting little sleep.
Crying that persists after the first couple of weeks following delivery.
Lack of interest in formerly pleasurable activities.
Changes in appetite.
Anxiety that will not lift with rest or support and assistance
Irritability that seems above normal or average.
Feelings that you might harm yourself or your baby.
If you suspect you may have PPD or you are feeling these symptoms it is critical you contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can for proper treatment. Fortunately your doctor can prescribe treatment and help you feel better again.
Read About Pregnancy Weeks 13-28