Pregnancy by week

Your pregnancy: 21 weeks

If you were able to see a picture of your baby around week 9, you might have thought he was "top-heavy" because his head was so big compared to the rest of his body. But you wouldn't think that any more. Now his head and body are much more in proportion.

Felt popsicle used to show how big baby is at 21 weeks

Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt:

What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 21 weeks

Your baby is now the size of a popsicle, measuring about 27 centimetres (10.5 inches) long from head to toe. At 21 weeks pregnant, your womb will start to feel cramped soon, but your baby still has lots of room to twist, turn and do the occasional flip for now.

On the move
Your baby’s arms and legs are now in proportion. Cartilage throughout your baby’s body is turning to bone, and neurons between her brain and muscles are connected. All of these developments have given her more control over her limb movements, which explains all the late-night dance parties that seem to be going on when you’re trying to sleep.

Budding taste buds
By 21 weeks, your baby is practising swallowing and digesting. She is taking tiny sips of amniotic fluid each day and tasting the flavours of the foods you’re eating. Keep this in mind as you plan those ultra-healthy pregnancy meals and snacks (and those, er, not-so-healthy cravings and indulgences). Some research suggests that babies who are exposed to a wider variety of flavours in utero turn out to be better eaters once they start solids. If you want your little one to turn into a toddler who gobbles up his kale and carrots, you better eat your fair share now.

21 weeks pregnant symptoms

Pregnant woman looking down at her baby bumpThe truth about stretch marksAt 21 weeks, your bump is growing—and so is the rest of you—which may be leaving some surprising marks. Those pink, red or purple streaks can appear as your body moves into major expansion mode, striping your breasts, stomach, bum, thighs and hips. Stretch marks occur when the supporting tissue under your skin gets torn. About half of moms-to-be will get them, and they’re more likely—and more visible—if you’re fair-skinned. Your chances of stretch marks also increase if your mom had them during her pregnancy. For the most part, they’re beyond your control, but stretch marks can be worse if you pack on a lot of weight quickly, which is another reason to gain slowly and steadily over the coming months (aim for about one pound a week up to 30 pounds by D-day for those of average pre-pregnancy weight. (If you have a higher or lower body mass index prior to pregnancy, your weight gain will be different.)

Although there’s no surefire way to prevent stretch marks, many moms swear by belly butters and oils. If nothing else, using a heavy moisturizer on your growing body can relieve the dryness and itching associated with stretching skin. The good news? Stretch marks usually don’t stick around forever. After baby arrives, they’ll fade to a less noticeable silvery shade or disappear altogether.

What’s on your mind this week

Signing up for prenatal class
Prenatal classes can be super-helpful for new parents-to-be. Not only do they cover breathing and pain-management techniques to use during labour but they also teach newborn baby care and the basics on swaddling, bottles and breastfeeding. Participating with your spouse or delivery-room partner can help make sure that you’re both feeling more confident and on the same page about delivery day. There are lots of different approaches, from hypnobirthing (kind of like our generation’s Lamaze technique) to standard hospital classes. 

Just for kicks

Start pinning
By week 21, you’re officially halfway through your pregnancy, and it’s probably all starting to feel really, well, real. This may be causing some prenatal anxiety. You’re having a baby, after all! Now is a good time to put your ideas down on paper—or screen. If you’ve been dreaming about a pink flamingo-themed nursery for that girl you now know you’re having, start planning it. Create a Pinterest board of ideas and get going on a to-do list. Outlining what you’d like to accomplish in the coming weeks will help you build a baby registry and channel all that anxiety while keeping it fun. 

Baby names

Creating a brand new life is a beautiful process. Honour that beauty with a name that means “beautiful.”

Pregnancy to-do list: 21 weeks

Start organizing your baby shower
Have you set a date for a baby shower? Who’s organizing it? If friends are making the plans, they’ll want to check with both sides of the family to pick a convenient time and location that works for everyone. Check out our tips, including cute baby shower themes, appetizer recipes and more. Be sure to click through these risqué shower games (if you think Grandma and Auntie Barb would be cool with that!).

Read more:
Retro and graphic nursery style
What to wear to your baby shower
Next up: 22 weeks pregnant


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