20th Week Pregnancy: Symptoms, Baby Development And Bodily Changes

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How Many Months Pregnant Are You At 20 weeks?

In the 20th week, you are in the fifth month of pregnancy. Momjunction explains how the unborn baby develops and how your body changes this week.

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How Big Is Your Baby At 20 Weeks?

At 20 weeks, your baby is about the size of a banana (1). The baby is about 10.08in (25.6cm, measured from head to toe) in length and weighs approximately 10.58oz (300g) (2).

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Baby Development At 20 Weeks

Here is how the baby develops this week.

Body partsDevelopment
Skin (3)Oil glands called Sebaceous glands begin to work. Skin is covered with vernix.
Fingers (4)Develop fingerprints.
EarsThe baby can hear muffled sounds.
GenitalsCan be distinguished during an ultrasound. In girls, the uterus is formed with eggs in the ovaries (5).
Larynx (6)Is developing and starts moving.
Head (7)Is covered with hair.
Brain nervesContinue to develop.
Heart (8)Beats at 120-160 beats/minute.
MusclesContinue to grow.
TeethPermanent teeth start to develop beneath the gums.

[ Read: 21st Week Pregnancy ]

Fetal position and movements: There is sufficient space inside the uterus for the fetus to move freely. You can feel the movement and kicks that feel like wiggles and flutters, also referred to as quickening. The fetus starts to suck its thumb, something that you can notice during an ultrasound. Also, the baby develops a regular wake-up and sleep pattern by this week.

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What Symptoms Of Pregnancy Do You Experience In The 20th Week?

Pregnancy symptoms that you may experience during this week include:

  • Weight gain: The weight needs to be as per the BMI (9):
BMIBelow 18.518.5 – 24.925 – 29.930 and Above
Weight gain (Pounds)9-158-145-113-8
  • You may develop food cravings, a liking or disliking towards certain foods, due to hormonal fluctuations.
  • Vaginal discharge, which prevents any bacteria from entering into the uterus through the vagina. Make sure to speak with your doctor in case the discharge has a foul odor.
  • You could experience leg cramps at night, due to a deficiency of magnesium or calcium.
  • The progesterone hormone relaxes the digestive tract, leading to slowed digestion.
  • The stomach is pushed upwards by the growing uterus, making the gastric acids to enter the esophagus to cause heartburn.
  • Water retention in the body causes swelling of the hands and feet. Sudden or excessive swelling could be an indication of preeclampsia.
  • The relaxation of the mucous membranes causes constriction in the nasal membranes that lead to nasal congestion and shortness of breath.
  • Pressure on the pelvic and rectal nerves due to the growing uterus causes swelling, or hemorrhoids.
  • The excess blood flow towards the lower part of the body causes pooling of blood in the leg nerves, resulting in a varicose vein.
  • Increased blood flow to the lower part of the body sometimes deprives the brain of sufficient blood supply, causing dizziness.
  • The slowed digestion causes the food to stay longer in the digestive tract causing constipation.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and painless contractions that prepare the body for labor.
  • The leg cramps, increased frequency of urination, and the body aches may disrupt you sleep at night.
  • The hormonal fluctuations can cause headaches during the week.
  • With an increased blood flow in the body, you may experience hot flashes.
  • You may develop the restless leg syndrome, a tingling sensation in the leg and an urge to move the legs in an uncontrolled manner. It could be caused due to low hemoglobin (<11 g/dl) level, RLS in the previous pregnancy, history of RLS before conception, or low folate (10).

Along with these symptoms, you will experience certain physical and psychological symptoms as well.

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[ Read: 22nd Week Pregnancy ]

Changes In Your Body In The 20th week

  • Enlarged belly due to the growing uterus, with the navel protruding out
  • Enlarged breast as the body prepares for milk production
  • Darker nipples and areola due to pigmentation
  • Blue or green vein around the breast due to increased blood flow
  • Hair and nail growth as a result of hormonal fluctuations
  • Linea nigra, a darker line running from the belly button to the pubic bone
  • Stretch marks as a result of small tears in the skin
  • Mood swings due to hormonal changes
  • Anxiety and fear of health issues, labor, and parenthood

If the symptoms are severe or unusual, go to the doctor immediately.

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When To Call The Doctor

Call your doctor immediately, if you notice any of the following symptoms (11):

  • Belly or pelvic pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Fever ≥ 100.4°F
  • Dark-colored urine, or painful and less urination
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • A feeling that you might faint or pass out

Not addressing the symptoms in time could be risky at this time.

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Risks In The 20th Week Of Pregnancy

Stillbirth is one of the risks you are prone to this week of pregnancy (12). Some of the causes of stillbirth are (13):

  • Placental or umbilical cord problems
  • Pregnancy conditions such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, diabetes, lupus, heart or thyroid disease
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Greater maternal age
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs
  • Birth defects

If the pregnancy symptoms are typical and everything goes smoothly, schedule the regular visit to your OB/GYN.

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Your OB/GYN Visit

Here’s what might happen during your doctor’s visit this week.

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check-up
  • Urine test
  • Ultrasound scan: An anomaly scan, which is a detailed scan, will be done this week to track the development of all the organs and growth of the baby. This scan helps to determine any physical problems including spina bifida in the baby (14).

Next, we have a few tips to help you stay healthy and happy during this time.

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[ Read: 23rd Week Pregnancy ]

Tips For Mom-to-be

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid fatty and deep-fried foods that worsen heartburn. Add fiber to your diet to reduce constipation.
  • Eat smaller meals at regular intervals.
  • Try to maintain the right posture to prevent a backache. Use comfy cushions or pillows while sitting or sleeping.
  • Try and find a sleeping position that lets you sleep comfortably.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat home-cooked food and add whole grain bread, cereals, milk, cheese, egg, and nuts to your diet.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking illicit drugs.
  • Engage in physical exercises like walking.
  • Try not to stress about little things.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Avoid taking any medication without your doctor’s advice.
  • Wear loose and breathable clothes.
  • Get regular dental check-up done.
  • Take prenatal vitamins including calcium, folic acid, and iron.
  • Sleep with your head elevated to get relief from nasal congestion.
  • Spend time with friends and family members.
  • Search for childbirth classes in your area.
  • Do not miss any doctor appointments.
  • Read pregnancy books.
  • Engage yourself in activities that keep you happy.

Spend time with your partner and seek his support to make this period less stressful.

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Tips For Dad-to-be

Here’s how the dad-to-be can participate in the pregnancy:

  • Help you with household activities.
  • Be with you during prenatal visits.
  • Create a pleasant environment at home.
  • Plan an outing and maternal shopping.
  • Give you a good neck and foot massage.

This week is also when you may start feeling the movements of your baby lightly. Take whatever immense joy you get from these little changes indicating how the baby is growing inside you. Try not to worry about the labor or parenthood. There are 20 more weeks to go for that.

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Do you have any experience to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below.

References:

1:Week by Week Fetus Size Demonstrated by Fruits; Expecting Parents Alliance Of America
2: Fetal Development; UNSW Embryology; Journal:Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine
3: Fetal Growth And Development; South Dakota Department of Health
4: Pregnancy – week by week; The State of Victoria and the Department of Health & Human Services(2012)
5: Pregnancy Week By Week; Due date calculator
6: Prenatal Summary; The Endowment For Human Development
7: Baby Development Week by Week; Auckland District Health Board
8: 20 weeks pregnant; Raising Children Network (Australia)(2017)
9: Weight Gain During Pregnancy; Utah Department Of Health
10:R. Gupta, M. Dhyani, T. Kendzerska,et.al ; Restless legs syndrome and pregnancy: prevalence, possible pathophysiological mechanisms and treatment; U.S. National Library of Medicine; Journal:Acta Neurol Scand.(2015)
11: When to call us; Kaiser Permanente
12: Understanding Stillbirth; Stillbirth Foundation
13: Stillbirth; Cleveland Clinic
14: Neural tube defect; Healthdirect Australia

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shreeja pillai

Postgraduate in Chemistry and content writer. She has worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and also holds a diploma in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. She is a writer for MomJunction and aims at providing informative articles based on health and wellness. Apart from writing, she takes a great interest in music and traveling. know more about her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shreeja-pillai/
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