20th – 20th week of pregnancy

20 week of pregnancy

The second trimester is the best time of pregnancy, characterized by fewer unpleasant symptoms and – all in all – a good level of energy.

It’s been almost five months into your pregnancy, and your life is changing more and more: in a wonderful way. You are now probably wearing  maternity clothing .

Baby development in the 20th week of pregnancy

The development of internal organs

The baby, who by now has all of his major organs fully developed and already in their final positions, is continuing to grow and gain weight.

In this week he swallows large quantities of amniotic fluid, in order to train his digestive system more.

As a result of its digestive function continues (from the previous week) its production of meconium, a dark substance which will constitute your baby’s first intestinal excretion after birth.

The development of the sensory organs

The small bones in the inner ear of the fetus are now fully developed as the characteristic structures of the external nose begin to form.

During this week, eyelids that were sealed in the past weeks may start to open in some children.

At this stage, the baby’s taste buds also begin to function.

Its outward appearance

The vernix – that waxy and white substance produced by the sebaceous glands of the fetus which protects it from the amniotic fluid – is now completely covering its body.

Her transparent skin also begins to form layers of fat underneath it, making the skin less transparent and increasing the size of the baby.

Even her hair – which, remember, will be present at birth – begins to grow during the twentieth week.

This first hair, however, will fall out a couple of weeks after giving birth, before the definitive, lighter hair begins to grow.

Its size

Until the 19th week, the fetus’s legs were curled up in front of its body, making it impossible to measure.

However, from the 20th week onward its legs begin to straighten, making it possible to measure the actual height (length) of the fetus.

Now her length from the top of her head to her bottom is about 16.5cm, while her length from her head to her feet is about 25cm.

So now the fetus is the size of a banana, weighing approximately 290 grams.

The changes in the woman’s body

In addition to the obvious growth of your baby bump, your body is subject to numerous changes that you should notice with each passing day.

Your different center of gravity caused by your growing belly, and your considerable weight gain, are more evident.

Now, your uterus is three times larger than normal, with the highest point now level with your belly button.

It will grow approximately 1 centimeter every week until delivery.

Your baby is growing inside the womb, and his kicks and punches are now starting to feel like real fetal movements, rather than the “quickening” of the previous weeks.

The ultrasound at the 20th week

If you haven’t already, your doctor may want you to do a mid-pregnancy ultrasound this week (usually done between  weeks 18  and  20  ).

Known as an abnormality ultrasound, this ultrasound is done both to evaluate fetal growth and to screen for certain (possible) birth defects (such as neural tube defects or heart defects that could suggest Down syndrome). and also to have a confirmation of the due date.

Ultrasound allows the doctor to check:

  • The limbs and fingers of the child to rule out the existence of any abnormalities,
  • Make sure the  umbilical cord , placenta and amniotic fluid are working properly by providing the baby with everything it needs to grow healthy.

It will also be possible to observe a straightening of the spine of the child, and definitively discover what its sex is.

Ultrasound in twin pregnancy

In a twin pregnancy, the two babies are usually observed separately for the existence of any abnormalities between them.

In this circumstance the appearance and measurements of the two children are also evaluated, in order to ascertain that they are growing at the same rate.

Symptoms of the 20th week of pregnancy

In this week, the following symptoms are possible:

  • pain in the round ligament of the uterus;
  • pain in the joints, hips, ribs and back;
  • leg cramps;
  • indigestion and heartburn ;
  • bloating and flatulence;
  • constipation;
  • shortness of breath;
  • swelling of hands and feet;
  • swollen and/or bleeding gums;
  • itchy skin around the belly, back and breasts;
  • sleep disturbances (insomnia);
  • mood swings;
  • occasional headaches and dizziness;
  • navel protruding out, with or without slight local pain and inflammation;
  • increased vaginal secretions.

Symptoms and signs to watch out for

Particular attention should be paid in the following cases.

  • Constant headache, or migraine , along with changes in vision, heart palpitations, sudden swelling (of hands and feet) and upper abdominal pain: these could be signs that you have pre-eclampsia.
  • Intense itching without a rash: This could indicate a rare liver disorder called cholestasis of pregnancy.
  • Symptoms such as stomach cramps, severe nausea, pain in the lower back, increasing pressure on the pelvic region, vaginal bleeding even in small patches or changes in secretions – these could indicate an opening of the cervix. In this case you should contact your trusted doctor to avoid the most serious consequences.
  • A burning sensation when urinating, together with significant pain in the lower back and thick, gelatinous, yellowish or white secretions: these could indicate the existence of an infectious disease such as candidiasis.
  • Extreme fatigue accompanied by excessive thirst, dry mouth, increased urination, and changes in vision could indicate the presence of gestational diabetes.

Some useful tips for a peaceful pregnancy and a healthy baby

  • Make sure you follow – as a routine – an appropriate dental hygiene (brushing and flossing regularly) and undergo check-ups to avoid the emergence of harmful conditions especially in pregnancy, such as gingivitis.
  • Avoid any type of X-ray examination unless absolutely necessary, as these could harm your baby.
  • Sleep on your side preferably on your left side ,
    • why sleeping on your tummy will not be comfortable for you due to the growth of the baby;
    • while sleeping on your back could reduce blood flow to the fetus due to pressure on major vessels.
    • Also consider buying a pregnancy pillow.
  • Follow a complete diet, as per your doctor’s suggestion. For example, make sure you include iron-rich foods (spinach, beans, nuts, lean red meat). Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin in both you and your baby: adequate iron intake also reduces your chances of developing anemia.
  • Make appropriate food choices to avoid excessive weight gain, especially if you are pregnant with twins or were already overweight at the beginning of your pregnancy.
  • Do some prenatal yoga exercises , or light physical exercises – regularly – in order to keep the abdominal and pelvic muscles flexible.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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