Amazing Developments at 21 Weeks Pregnant

Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
Pregnant woman looking pleased with baby's nursery

Now more than halfway through your pregnancy, you're experiencing fewer unpleasant symptoms and have more energy. Week 21 is a great time to start planning and decorating your little one's nursery, but it's important to keep some safety guidelines in mind.

Your Baby's Development

baby at 21 weeks pregnant

By week 21, you can probably feel your baby's gymnastics on a regular basis. Your baby is now about 11 inches long from crown to heel and weighs approximately 12 ounces.

At this point in your pregnancy, your baby's heart is growing stronger and his/her digestive tract is maturing. The Mayo Clinic reports that your baby is getting ready to go through a major growth spurt in the coming weeks. In addition, your little one is learning to swallow. Right now, he will be swallowing amniotic fluid, but after birth, that will change to breast milk or formula.

Your Changing Body

Now that you're past the halfway point in your pregnancy, you've probably gained between 10 and 15 pounds. According to the American Pregnancy Association, you may still be experiencing constipation, indigestion, heartburn, occasional headaches, round ligament pains, stretch marks, itching, or frequent urination. However, you're probably feeling more emotionally stable than you were before.

Varicose Veins

During week 21, some women start to develop varicose veins. Caused by pregnancy-related weight gain, varicose veins may appear as painless blue or purple spots on the legs. However, they may also appear as swollen and painful veins that require elevation. In this case, the swelling will disappear after your pregnancy and the appearance of the veins will be minimized. In the meantime, you can reduce your discomfort by wearing support stockings and avoiding sitting for a long time.

Itchy Palms

At this point in your pregnancy, you may also notice that your palms and the soles of your feet seem to be red and itchy. This pregnancy symptom occurs in over 60 percent of white women and about 35 percent of black women, according to Yale University. It's caused by fluctuating hormone levels and doesn't indicate a problem. The redness should fade shortly after delivery and the itching can be relieved with a moisturizing cream.

More to Know About Week 21 of Your Pregnancy

pregnant woman painting

By the 21st week of your pregnancy, you may have found out the gender of your little one. In addition, you're feeling better and have plenty of energy. This is an ideal time to begin decorating your baby's nursery. However, it's important to consider the safety implications of painting while pregnant.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, there aren't any definitive studies about the effects of paint exposure during pregnancy. To be on the safe side, it's important to keep these guidelines in mind:

  • If you suspect that your home contains lead paint, hire a professional to remove it. Never sand lead paint, since air born particles can expose you to this toxin. You should try not to be around the house when the lead abatement is going on.
  • The type of paint you choose is important. Avoid using oil-based paints. Interior latex paint may be better, but it should not contain biocides or ethylene glycol ethers. Ask about ingredients at the paint store or home center.
  • Ideally, you should have the dad-to-be or a friend or family member paint the nursery for you.
  • If you do paint yourself, be sure to open all windows and place fans in the room to keep the air circulating. Don't eat or drink while you're painting, and wear gloves, long sleeves, and a mask.
  • After the room is painted, close the door to allow it to dry without contaminating the rest of the house.

Always talk to your doctor or midwife before beginning a painting project. Your healthcare provider can give you the latest information about this issue.

If you need help downloading the pregnancy calendar, check out these helpful tips.

Looking Forward

By now, you should be feeling your little one moving around, although some first time moms may still be waiting for that first flutter. Soon, your baby will be sending out unmistakable signs of his or her presence.

Amazing Developments at 21 Weeks Pregnant