Time for our weekly update!
At about seven inches in length and almost 11 ounces in weight, your baby is about the size of a large banana. By 21 weeks pregnant, your baby swallows at least several ounces of amniotic fluid each day — not only for hydration and nutrition, but also to practice swallowing and digesting — skills your baby will need as soon as he or she arrives in your arms. And keep this in mind: The taste of the amniotic fluid differs from day to day depending on what you've eaten (spicy enchilada one day, sweet carrots another). And that smorgasbord of tastes won't be lost on your baby. That's because your little one has very developed taste buds already. In fact, researchers have noted that babies who were exposed to certain tastes in utero via the amniotic fluid were more eager to eat foods with that same taste after birth. Want your baby to eat his or her broccoli later? Eat yours now! Your developing baby still has a great deal of room in your womb — though like anyone who lives in one space for a long time, this tenant will soon begin to feel cramped. Until those uterine walls start closing in, however, there's plenty of space for twisting, turning, and even an occasional somersault (so that's what you were feeling last night!).
How big is your baby? About the size of a large banana — and speaking of bananas, if you eat one this week, there's a good chance your baby will get a taste, too. That's because he swallows a bit of amniotic fluid each day (for nutrition, hydration, and to practice digesting), so he eats whatever's on your menu. In other (not so welcome) news, you may start to notice some stretch marks as your body expands and your belly and breasts just keep on growing. These pink, red, or purple streaks appear when the supporting tissue under your skin gets torn as skin stretches (and stretches and stretches) during pregnancy. Not every woman gets them, though you're a likely candidate if your mom had stretch marks during her pregnancy or if you've gained weight rapidly. Most pregnant women fear them. Many won't even talk about them. Some particularly enlightened ones wear them proudly as a badge of pregnancy. No, not maternity clothes. Stretch marks. Your baby's not even born yet and, at 21 weeks pregnant, is already leaving a mark — all over your belly, butt, thighs, hips, and breasts. More than half of all pregnant women will get these pink or red (sometimes purplish) streaks that are caused by tiny tears in the supporting layers of tissue under your skin as it becomes stretched to its limit.
Unfortunately, there's no proven way to prevent stretch marks from zigzagging their way across your skin (though there's no harm in applying moisturizers, such as cocoa butter, to your skin; if nothing else, it will prevent the dryness and itching associated with pregnancy-stretched skin). Susceptibility has lots to do with genetics: Chances are, if your mother got them, you probably will too. If your mother sailed through her pregnancies with smooth skin intact, you'll probably stay as smooth as your baby's butt. Rapid weight gain can also predispose you to getting stretch marks — another good reason to add your pounds slowly and steadily (at an average of about a pound a week these days). Darker-skinned women are less likely to get stretch marks (plus, they're not as visible on dark skin) — but fair-skinned gals are usually less lucky. Is there any good news about stretch marks? Here's something: They won't stay so vividly hued forever. After delivery, they usually fade to a less noticeable (and more easily concealable) silvery gray color. Meanwhile, try to wear them with pride.
2 years ago