Your Pregnancy: Week 21
You’re most likely looking and feeling pretty pregnant at this point. As your appetite increases, make sure you’re eating healthy, balanced foods (read: not an entire bag of tortilla chips) that both you and your baby can reap the nutritional benefits from. For instance, make sure you’re getting enough iron from red meat, shellfish, spinach or soy-based foods. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood. Since you’re now producing more blood, you also need more iron.
Your baby’s digestive system is maturing, now enabling the fetus to swallow amniotic fluid, absorb much of the water in it, and then pass unabsorbed matter as far as the large bowel.
This may also be a good time to start thinking about baby names, if you haven’t already. Be careful when sharing your choices though – everyone will have an opinion, and it might not be what you want to hear.
Already have your mind set on opting out of breastfeeding? Not so fast! Before you make any decisions, it’s a good idea to have an open mind and fully research the subject – which means signing up for a prenatal breastfeeding class and reading up on the subject to get an idea of the benefits.
Start singing lullabies and playing music for your little one. He or she can now hear what’s going on out there.
Spend some time organizing any picture albums, filing cabinets or junk drawers that you’ve been meaning to get to.
Prevent varicose veins by avoiding long periods of sitting or standing (which can cause blood to pool in the legs). Stop crossing your legs and make sure you get some exercise. If you’re really concerned, try wearing supportive pantyhose or elastic stockings and slightly elevate your legs when you’re lounging on the couch.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
By now most of the early, unpleasant sensations of pregnancy have passed – the fatigue and nausea – and for a while, you’ll probably experience smooth sailing on calm amniotic waters. Still, the physical changes never really let up, and often the first indications of what’s to come are new aches and pains, such as round ligament pain. The round ligaments hold the uterus in its anatomical location. When you’re not pregnant, your uterus is smaller than a pear. Forgive the mixed metaphor involving fruit and office supplies, but the round ligaments are like rubber bands that stretch dramatically as the formerly pearlike uterus lifts up and out of the pelvis. Round ligament pains, which most of my patients experience at one time or another, feel like a sharp pain or a pull, the kind of jab you sometimes feel in your side after running. I was startled myself by the sudden intensity of these pains when I had them for the first time, and I can easily understand why some women feel truly frightened and even fear they’ve gone into premature labor.
Typically, one side will ache more than the other. Though you may describe these pains as sharp, even stabbing, they are completely normal. I tell my patients to do what I did: soak for a while in a warm tub, but not a Jacuzzi.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: Adjusting to Adjusting
You finally figure out that lemon drops help your nausea, and then it suddenly lifts. As soon as you find the perfect shirt to disguise any signs of pregnancy, you feel like telling everyone you’re pregnant. The day you get to the pool to swim, you discover that your bathing suit is too small. You find a comfy sleep position, then the baby moves and you can’t find another one. You figure out a way let go and start to enjoy all the attention and special treatment, and then the baby’s born and you’re suddenly invisible. The week you get into a great breastfeeding rhythm, it’s time to go back to work and figure out how to pump…
We could go on. Pregnancy is a series of small changes and big ones. What will happen, when, and how long it will last is hard to tell. Women often feel the same kinds of insecurities about their bodies and identities during pregnancy as they do during adolescence, and it’s no wonder. The constant state of transition can make it hard to find your footing.
After all the effort you put in in, the changes can be not just disorienting, but maddening: All that preparation and the stage is already over! But dealing with change is one of the most important lessons of pregnancy. Parenting is inherently in flux; newborns become infants, infants become babies, babies become toddlers, toddlers become kids. Along the way, you’ll be navigating countless changes and twists and turns.
This can be hard at first, but over time most parents find it somewhat comforting to know that nothing is that big and permanent. Things that suck will pass; things we master, we’ll feel good about. There’s an almost Buddhist element to parenting: While we are all getting attached to our babies in a very deep way, becoming attached to each successive moment doesn’t really fit with the program. Life moves forward – if you can learn to expect the unexpected, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the ride.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.