Changes During Weeks 17 - 20

Baby

Your baby's head, arms, legs, and body are now fully formed. Soft fine body hairs (lanugo) cover the body as well as a cheese-like coating (vernix), which protects the delicate skin. Scalp hair and eyebrows appear. Fetal movement increases.

By 20 weeks, your baby's head, arms, legs, and body are fully formed. Scalp hair, eyebrows, and toenails appear. Soft, fine body hairs called lanugo and a protective, "cheese like" substance calleded vernix caseosa protects the baby`s delicate skin. The baby now weighs about 1 pound and is about 7 ½ inches in length.

Mother

Your baby's movement will become increasingly noticeable to you. You may experience muscle cramps in your legs due to changing posture and/or inadequate nutrient intake. Due to circulatory and hormonal changes, your gums may become swollen and bleed more easily. At 20 weeks you`ve reached the halfway point of your pregnancy.

Approaching the Midpoint of Pregnancy

When experienced and expectant mothers talk of pregnancy, they often remark about how quickly -- and how slowly! -- these nine, special months pass. This may seem especially true now, for as you approach your 20th week of pregnancy, a time when body changes are more evident than ever, the midpoint of your pregnancy is nearing. Celebrating this special milestone can put any discomfort into a more positive perspective!

If you have not felt the small "fluttery" feeling of your baby's movement prior to this time, you most likely will between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy. This is called "quickening". The time at which a pregnant woman first feels this sign of new life varies according to her body size and whether or not she's been pregnant before (second and third time moms often feel it sooner). You may also find that your baby is more active at certain times of the day, and that activity may be highest at night or when you`re resting.

This movement is important in another way, too, for it helps you begin to identify your baby as a separate person. With this realization come new concerns for your baby's well-being.

Other physical and emotional changes include the following:

  • An increase in fundal height (height of the uterus) - This is what doctors/midwives are determining when they measure your abdomen at your prenatal visits. Your uterus will have grown considerably by this time. At about 20 weeks, your uterus will be approximately at the level of your umbilicus (belly button).
  • The presence of colostrum - A thick, yellowish fluid may be leaking from your nipples. This is an indication that your breasts are getting ready to produce milk.
  • A change in self-image - You are probably wearing maternity clothes by this time, and more people are asking you about your condition. Expect to have some new positive and negative feelings about your body and the pregnancy process.

Discomfort during pregnancy

Some discomforts during pregnancy is normal. However, with proper precautions, you can minimize them. These discomforts are directly related to physical changes taking place in your body. They include: