Your baby is still busy growing and developing.
By the end of week 20 her skin will not be quite as transparent as it has been previously because fat is starting to accumulate under her skin. The oil glands in her skin are starting to secrete a waxy substance called vernix that will protect her skin from the amniotic fluid and from getting chapped and scratched (her fingernails and toenails are starting to grow now too).
Motor neurons are now growing in your baby’s brain giving him the ability to make conscious movements including even putting her thumb in her mouth!
Your body: You are officially halfway through your pregnancy by the end of week 20. Your uterus has grown up out of your pelvis and the fundus (top of your uterus) is about level with your belly button.
Feeling your baby move: Yes, there really is a new little person inside your body! You can expect to start feeling your baby’s movements regularly from now on. At first, only you will be able to feel them, but within a few weeks your partner/husband or anyone else you allow to touch your abdomen will be able to feel these movements too. The first movements will probably be little flutters like when you get “butterflies” in your stomach with nervousness – your baby only weighs about 250gm and it’s limbs are only about 6 cm long (barely the size of your little finger) so it will be a few weeks before these flutters and flicks become obvious kicks.
Childbirth Preparation Classes/Antenatal Classes: Now is the time to book into these classes. Ask your LMC for information about what classes are available in your area. If you live in Auckland and are interested in classes that teach you and your husband/partner labour coping skills, that support you to breastfeed and parent responsively, check out the information about MAMA courses by clicking here.
Nutrition: You baby is growing bigger by the day and it’s your body that is supporting all this growth, so remember to continue to eat a variety of fresh, wholefoods and avoid highly processed foods and sugary snacks. Most women have gotten over the nausea of early pregnancy by now, but you may still become nauseas if you leave long gaps between eating. Keep your fluid intake up – you could become susceptible to headaches and urinary tract infections if you become dehydrated.
Weight gain: On average a pregnant woman expecting one baby will have gained about 5.5kg by the end of her 20th week of pregnancy. If you were overweight at the beginning of your pregnancy you may have gained a little less and if you were under the average weight for your height at the beginning of pregnancy you may have gained a little more. If you have gained significantly more or less than 5.5kg you should probably have a close look at your diet and make the changes that will be necessary for you to achieve a healthy weight-gain throughout your pregnancy.
Exercise: Keep up or start a regular exercise program (either a formal pregnancy exercise class or a regular form of self-directed exercise) now. It is good to build up your strength and stamina through this middle trimester of pregnancy. This will help you to cope with the growing physical demands of your pregnancy and hopefully keep you fit and strong enough to continue to exercise right through to the end of your pregnancy. Even if you have managed a modified version of your pre-pregnancy exercise regime till now, it is probably a good time to start looking at a class or workout that is specifically designed for pregnant women. If you live in Auckland click here and MAMA will send you a list of the different pregnancy exercise programmes that are available in Auckland.
Screening and Diagnostic Tests: If you have decided to have either the 18 week ultrasound or a amniocentesis, these tests should ideally be taken by the end of your 18th week of pregnancy.
Horror stories: Now that you are obviously pregnant you will receive lots of unsolicited information. Some information will be helpful, but most will be inaccurate and worrying. For some reason people feel it is their duty to pass on stories of difficult pregnancies and births etc. These stories are like urban myths, they become more exaggerated and more inaccurate with each telling. Remind yourself that most women in developed countries have completely normal pregnancies, normal labours (unless they are inappropriately exposed to medical interventions) and healthy babies. Film and television dramas are just that, a “drama”, that either depicts a worst case scenario and/or an exaggerated and wildly inaccurate depiction of pregnancy, labour and birth.
Maternity Leave: If you are employed or self employed, you need to start thinking about applying for maternity/parental leave. If you have been working for the same employer for more than six months (at your estimated due date) for an average of at least 10 hours per week you are probably eligible for one year of maternity leave including 14 weeks of taxpayer-funded paid parental leave. You are required to apply to your employer for maternity leave by the time you are 24 – 26 weeks pregnant. For more information go to:-