Pregnancy Week 21

Fetal development in pregnancy week 21:

Your baby is now about 10 ½ ounces and measures about 8 inches long – about the size of a large banana.  The rapid growth that has happened over the last few weeks will slow down now.  Every week increases the baby’s chance of survival outside of the womb now.

The head is now about 1/3 of the size of the body now.  Rapid eye movements begin at twenty-one weeks and baby can hear when you talk or sing to them now.   Swallowing, which is believed to help baby’s digestive system function after birth, continues at this point.  The heart is growing stronger and can be heard when you visit the doctor’s office.  Fat continues to accumulate now and the bones and muscles are getting stronger each day.

By now, most people can probably tell that you are pregnant.  Your body is changing rapidly as the baby grows.  Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat healthy.  Exercise is a great way to stay in shape and keep healthy.  Check with your health practitioner to find out what types of exercise would be appropriate for your pregnancy.

Maternal Changes

By pregnancy week 21 some women start noticing cramping or achiness in their legs. Fortunately wearing support stockings can help alleviate much of the discomfort you may experience during this time in pregnancy. Support hose are also a good idea for anyone suffering from varicose veins or swelling in the legs. Keep in mind that regular stretching and exercise can also alleviate stubborn cramps from the legs. You may find a brief 15 minute stretch on rising and before you go to bed every night very comforting and useful for alleviating many of the cramps associated with pregnancy.

During this time you may start thinking more and more about delivery. There are some important things you should be aware of after delivery. Many women if not most will go through a period of extreme joy and elation immediately after delivery. This can often be followed however by a period of sadness, often referred to as the baby blues. Why so blue? Remember that after delivering your baby your feelings will be mixed with exhaustion and the new challenges delivering a baby brings. Most newborns will not sleep through the night for several weeks after birth, which can contribute to your feelings of sadness or anxiety. Keep in mind however that most cases of the blues only last a few short days. The blues may also result form the rapid drop in hormones that occurs just after delivery.

If you experience severe depression or sadness, you may have a much more serious condition called postpartum depression or PPD. Be sure if you can’t shake your baby blues you talk with your healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor can offer treatment to help relieve this potentially debilitating condition.

Dad

Don’t panic over childbirth classes. Every dad there is probably having similar feelings to you. Just smile and know that your childbirth educator is not going to call you out in class. It’s not a pass/fail class – think of it as auditing.

Maternity Clothes

Want to know what most expectant moms say their favorite maternity clothes are? Casual bottoms of course! As your waistline expands you may find yourself a little more hesitant to wear complicated outfits that require numerous accessories. The number one thing moms look for when shopping for maternity items is comfort… something Casual Bottoms at Destination Maternity have to offer in spades!

There is good news for moms-to-be in today’s fashion conscious society… even casual bottoms can look fantastic during pregnancy! There are simply hundreds of different styles and fits to choose from. Whether you are a sporty mom to be or someone that is simply looking for something a little more functional, be sure to check out the wide selection of casual bottoms offered by the leading retailers! Your body and your baby will thank you for the comfort and support these garments offer!

Pregnancy Health Tips

After delivery it is quite normal to go through a period of elation followed by a short period referred to as the baby blues. Having a baby can bring on many different emotions. Joy is often intermingled with challenges and exhaustion. Most newborn babies do not sleep through the night until many weeks after birth. This can result in moodiness and sometimes depression.

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The baby blues otherwise known as postpartum blues are quite common, affecting up to 80 percent of women who give birth, usually in the first few weeks after delivery. A normal case of the blues can be characterized by feelings of anxiety, fear, fatigue, irritability and even nauseousness. You may find your appetite changes and you feel down for several days. Fortunately these feelings are usually pretty normal during the first couple of weeks after birth. The blues should only last a few days. The rapid drop in hormones that occurs immediately following delivery may also influence your mental state.

Sometimes, the depression and anxiety experienced after birth become much more serious. Baby blues are not the same as a condition called postpartum depression or PPD. While they share many of the same symptoms, PPD is much more serious than a case of the baby blues, and may result in suicidal thoughts or a woman’s inability to care for her newborn baby.

You might suspect PPD if you exhibit any of the following symptoms after the birth of your baby:

  • Inability to shake the blues after two weeks.
  • Constant insomnia despite exhaustion.
  • Weepiness or crying that persists all day for days at a time.
  • Lack of interest in your baby or daily life.
  • Changes in appetite that persist.
  • Anxiety that does not diminish with rest and support.
  • Moodiness and irritability that seems excessive.
  • Feelings of guilt about your ability to care for your baby.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Feelings like you might harm your baby.

If you suspect that you might have PPD it is best that you contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. One of the most common signs of PPD is that you are not able to sleep when your baby does, even though you are exhausted. PPD sometimes results in feelings like you won’t be able to care for your baby.

In very rare circumstances, postpartum depression can result in psychosis, which is characterized by delusional thinking and violent or suicidal impulses. It is absolutely critical that you see your healthcare provider should you experience any symptoms like this.

Remember that PPD can strike at any time, and it can strike any woman regardless of her background or abilities. Some women with a history of depression in their family may be more susceptible than others, so it is important that you discuss your family history with your healthcare provider, so they can take adequate preventive measures to ensure that you are okay after delivery.

Researchers aren’t exactly certain why some women develop PPD and others do not. There are some women, however, who are considered more at risk than others, including the following:

  • Women who are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.
  • Single mothers.
  • Parents who are financially burdened.
  • Individuals recently experiencing severe stress or a loss.
  • Women who suffer from PMS.
  • Women who have a family history of depression.

The good news is your healthcare provider can treat PPD and help you recover completely. It is important that you share any feelings you are experiencing during the postpartum period. Reach out to those around you, and you’ll find that you are less likely to experience the symptoms of depression. It is also important that you get sleep whenever you can during the early weeks after delivery. Sleep deprivation in and of itself may be enough to contribute to severe depression in many women. If you aren’t in a situation where someone can relieve you occasionally, consider hiring a babysitter once or twice a week so you can get some much needed rest.

Twin Tips

Got back pain? While watching your posture and being careful to lift and carry properly can go a long way, there are back braces that are made to help you carry the load. Talk to your practitioner about writing a prescription to help insurance cover these items, or you can purchase them separately on your own.


Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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