Pregnancy Calendar – Week Twenty-One
Now measured from the crown of the head to the heel of the foot, the baby is about ten inches long and weighs over twelve ounces. The head, body, and limbs are now all in proportion, so your baby looks like a newborn, only much smaller and thinner. The baby’s skin will be wrinkled until enough weight is gained to fill it out, and the faint hair (lanugo) that covers the body is now visible. Fingernails have grown to the ends of the fingers. The baby’s liver has started to break down bilirubin, a chemical breakdown product of hemoglobin. (Excess bilirubin after birth is associated with jaundice.) The bones in the ears are becoming harder, so the baby can hear your voice more clearly than before.
Many women decide on a plan for their baby’s birth ahead of time, so if you haven’t already talked to your doctor about your expectations for labor and delivery, you will want to do this soon. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to control every part of the birth, but writing a birth plan can give you a way to make your preferences clear. Taking your doctor’s suggestions into consideration, come up with a written plan. You can include instructions for any aspects of labor and delivery, including anesthesia (or not), music in your room, support people involved (such as a doula or midwife), necessity for an episiotomy, or banking the umbilical cord blood. (For two examples of Birth Plans, that can help you draft your own, see: “Birth Plan: Singleton” and “Birth Plan: Twins.”) Another thing to start thinking about is breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Breastfeeding has many advantages, including passing on immunities to your baby and reducing your own risk of breast cancer. More women than ever before are breastfeeding and many women do a combination of breast and bottle. (For one woman’s story, read: “Show Us Your Tits!”)
Hot Topic: Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, which occur as the skin of your abdomen expands, happen to about half of pregnant women. Stretch marks can also show up on your breasts, thighs, hips, or buttocks. A combination of heredity and weight gain in pregnancy contributes to the appearance of stretch marks; there is really nothing you can do to prevent them. The stretch marks will fade and become less noticeable after pregnancy. Your skin may also become dry and itchy—lotion can help with this.
Fast Fact: Sounds that have low frequencies—like the male voice—penetrate the abdomen and uterine wall better than higher frequency sounds like the female voice. According to a 2004 study by researchers at the University of Florida, music is also easily recognizable. So does that mean your baby won’t recognize mommy’s voice? Not at all—you just may want to limit high-pitched, squeaky baby talk.
Eating for Two: Healthy Snacks
This salsa is great in tacos, and it can also be served over grilled chicken or fish.
Lisa’s Peach Salsa
- One red pepper
- One green pepper
- One jalapeno pepper
- 1/4 red onion
- One peach
- One tomato
- One bunch fresh cilantro
- One can black beans, drained and rinsed
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. First, chop the peppers, onion, peach, tomato, and cilantro.
2. Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl, and refrigerate for one to two hours.
3. Serve with low fat corn chips or toasted pita chips.
<< Read Week 20
Read Week 22 >>