Week 21 of Pregnancy

At week 21, your baby is now about 7 and a quarter inches long from the top of her head to the tip of her rump — roughly the length of a plump bratwurst — and weighs about 10 and a half ounces. Her head is more than 2 inches long, or about one-third of her total length. She’s still thin, wrinkly, and transparent. If you could take a peek, you’d see her bones and organs right through her skin.

Her developing brain and nerve endings are giving her a newfound sense of touch, and she’s making the most of it. She strokes her face, sucks her thumb, and grabs on to her umbilical cord. For the next few months, it’s the closest thing she’ll have to a toy.

She has taste buds, too, although her menu is still very limited. While she still gets almost all of her nutrition from the placenta, she’s starting to gulp amniotic fluid. It’s great practice for her digestive system. Her intestines absorb some of the water — and even a little sugar — and her kidneys can handle some of the waste.

You’re starting to grow, too. You’ve probably put on about 10 to 15 pounds, enough to really “show.” Strangers can guess that you’re pregnant, but they won’t feel confident enough to ask about your due date.

You may be noticing that your feet and ankles are starting to swell, especially at the end of the day. This is completely normal. If swelling is bothering you, try keeping your legs slightly elevated while you rest or sleep. You should also try to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time without a break. If you have swelling in your face or hands, however, let your doctor know.


Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow. St. Martins Griffin.

Curtis, Glade, MD. Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 5th edition. Da Capo Press.

American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnancy Calendar. http://kidshealth.org/

University of Michigan Healthcare System. Swelling and varicose veins. http://www.med.umich.edu/obgyn/smartmoms/discomforts/varicose.htm.

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