5 Months Pregnant: Symptoms, Baby Development And Diet Tips

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If you are 5 months (week 20 to 24) pregnant, you are in the second trimester of your pregnancy. your baby’s growth spurts begin, and the pregnancy tummy becomes noticeable, signaling that it’s time for a wardrobe refresh. Morning sickness is no longer a factor because the hunger impulses have taken control during this month.

Read this post to know more about how pregnancy alters your body, how your baby develops, and what measures you should take in the fifth month of pregnancy.

What Symptoms Do You Experience In The Fifth Month Of Pregnancy?

The common pregnancy symptoms you might experience in the fifth month include nausea, heartburn, constipation, and breast changes. The causes for these symptoms to appear have been explained with several other symptoms like (1, 2):

  • Weight gain: It must be as per the BMI (3).
Pregnancy monthBMI < 25BMI 25-30BMI > 30
5th2-4kg1-2kg to 2kg0-2kg to 1-2kg
  • Gravity changes: The center of gravity of your body changes with the growing belly, which can make you feel imbalanced at times.
  • Shortness of Breath: The growing uterus puts pressure on the diaphragm, making breathing difficult.
  • Headaches: Hormonal fluctuations cause headaches.
  • Fatigue: As the body works more to fulfill the growing demands of the fetus, you start to feel tired.
  • Dizziness: The hormonal fluctuations in the body make you dizzy.
  • Leg cramps: Vitamin deficiency, extra weight or being too active or inactive at this time could result in leg cramps (3).
  • Nasal congestion: The increased estrogen level causes the nasal membranes to expand, thereby increasing the mucus flow and causing congestion.
  • Constipation: An increase in the progesterone level causes slow movement of the food through the intestine, leading to indigestion and constipation.
  • Heartburn: The growing uterus pushes up the gastric acids in the stomach to the esophagus, causing heartburn.
  • Back pain: The extra pressure of the baby’s weight on the lower back or the sciatic nerve (that runs from the spine to legs) causes back pain.
  • Increase in appetite: As the morning sickness wanes by this month, your cravings increase.
  • Frequent urination: The growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder, resulting in frequent visits to the bathroom.
  • Insomnia: The back pain, frequent urination, leg cramps deprives you of a sound sleep.
  • Edema: The water retention in the body makes your feet, hand, and face to swell.
  • Bleeding gums: Hormonal changes and an increase in the blood flow can cause bleeding gums.

Apart from these symptoms, you may experience other physical and psychological changes too.

Physical Changes In The Fifth Month

Physiological changes you go through include:

  • A growing belly: The belly is visible by now, and it feels itchy as the skin stretches.
  • Enlarged breast: The breast starts the milk production, and hence it looks bigger and fuller.
  • Colostrum: A yellow liquid starts discharging from the nipples, which is the first milk for your baby.
  • Stretch marks: The growing uterus causes tiny tears in the skin tissues, creating stretch marks.
  • Linea nigra: A line that runs from the navel to the pubic hairline gets darker.
  • Darker areola and nipples: The skin pigmentation could make the nipples and the area around them look darker.

Emotional Changes In The Fifth Month

Few emotional changes you may experience are:

  • Mood swings: They are the result of hormonal fluctuations.
  • Stress: The thoughts of parenthood and anxiety during pregnancy can put you under stress.
  • Pregnancy brain: Due to the hormonal fluctuations, it is common to forget things during this time.

By this month, your baby’s development picks up the pace. Are you anxious to know about it? Keep reading here.

Baby Development In The Fifth Month Of Pregnancy

The fifth month spans from weeks 17 to 20 (4). By this time, your baby grows from the size of a Turnip to a Banana (5).

Baby weight (6): Around 5 to 10 ounces (140 – 300g, 0.30 – 0.7 pounds)

Baby’s length: 5.1 – 10in (CRL) (13 – 25.6cm (CRL)) between 17th and 20th weeks. From week 20, the length is measured from crown to rump.

Here is how your baby is developing during this month ( 7, 8,9):

Body partsDevelopment
SkinVernix caseosa, a greasy material covers and protects the skin.
HairStarts to grow on the head.
LanugoFine hair that covers the body.
EyesEyebrows, eyelashes, and eyelids start appearing.
HeartHeart rate follows a daily cycle called circadian rhythms.
Vocal cordMaturing
EarCochlea fully developed and the fetus starts hearing.
GenitalsIn girls, the ovaries develop about 7 million oogonia, which give rise to primary oocytes.
NervesGetting covered with a tissue called myelin.
FingersFingerprints are developed.

It’s a moment of joy when you feel your baby’s first movement. Read here to know what happens inside your womb this month.

Baby’s Position And Movements In The Fifth Month

Position: The baby has a lot of free space inside the womb to move around. Hence, there is no specific position that the baby attains during this month.

Movement: The baby’s movements can be felt slightly by this time, like a fluttering feeling in the stomach, referred to as quickening. First-time mothers may not be able to recognize it and take it for gas in the stomach (10).

Eating the right food in the right amounts is essential for the health of the mother and the baby. However, it is also necessary to ensure that you stay away from foods that are not recommended for pregnant women.

Pregnancy Diet For The Fifth Month

Here is the list of foods that you should add to your diet (11):

  • Add a lot of green leafy vegetables, bread, milk, sardines, and fortified cereals that are rich in Calcium. It promotes healthy bones and teeth in your baby. According to ACOG, a pregnant woman should take 1000mg of calcium/day.
  • Iron helps in the production of red blood cells. The recommended intake is 27 mg/day (including any supplements). Whole grain products, fish, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, beans, lean pork, and beef are a good source of this mineral.
  • According to the ACOG, the recommended daily intake of Folic acid by a pregnant woman is 600mcg/day. It prevents congenital disabilities relating to the brain and spine in the baby. Add a lot of Leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, and kale), kidney beans, lentils, nuts, citrus fruits, and beans in the diet.
  • Vitamin D promotes healthy eyesight and strengthens the bones and teeth. Salmon and milk fortified with Vitamin D are a good source. The recommended intake is 600 IU per day.
  • Add Vitamin A rich foods like orange or yellow vegetables (sweet potatoes or carrots), leafy green vegetables, liver, and milk. The recommended daily intake is 750-770mcg/day. It promotes bone strength and healthy eyesight.
  • Protein can be obtained from lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, peas, soy products, beans, milk, and unsalted seeds and nuts. It is necessary for muscles and the brain.
  • Add Vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli in your diet. It promotes healthy gums, teeth, and bones. The average daily recommended intake is 85mg.

Foods To Avoid During The Fifth Month Of Pregnancy

Here is the list of foods you need to avoid:

  • Stay away from raw or uncooked food as it can cause a foodborne disease called listeriosis (12).
  • Avoid eating fishes like swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and sharks that have a high level of mercury.
  • Avoid consuming more than 200-300 mg of caffeine a day as it may lead to a miscarriage (13).
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese.
  • Avoid food containing gluten such as wheat and barley (14), if you have celiac disease. Instead, switch to vegetables, fruits, beans, poultry, and meat.
  • Avoid deep-fried and spicy foods as they can aggravate heartburn.

It’s time to fix your appointment with the doctor for ensuring both you and the baby are doing well.

What To Expect During Your Visit To The Ob/Gyn?

Here are some tests that your doctor would suggest for this month:

Physical examinations:

  1. Blood pressure check
  2. Weight check
  3. Urine test for protein and sugar levels.
  4. Measurement of the fundal height


1. Ultrasound: It is carried out to,

  • Monitor the fetal heart rate and growth of your baby in terms of weight and CRL (crown-rump length).
  • Check the position of the baby and the condition of the placenta.
  • The scan is also called anomaly scan (15).

2. Multiple marker test: It includes the screening of the mother’s blood sample for evaluating the levels of (16);

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) – An abnormal protein levels of AFP in the maternal blood serum indicates:
    • Down syndrome
    • Open neural tube defects (ONTD), such as spina bifida
    • Defects in the wall of the fetal abdomen
    • Some other chromosomal abnormalities
    • A miscalculation in the due date because the protein levels do vary throughout pregnancy
    • More than one fetus makes the protein
  • hCG – It is the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, which is produced by the placenta.
  • Estriol – Produced by the placenta
  • Inhibin – Produced by the placenta

In case of unsatisfactory multiple marking testing results, an amniocentesis may be recommended for an accurate diagnosis.

3. Amniocentesis: It is done to check for open neural tube defects (ONTDs) such as spina bifida and chromosomal disorders. A sample of the amniotic fluid is tested to evaluate the results. In the case of twins and multiple babies, the sampling will be done from each amniotic sac.

Specific symptoms may indicate a problem and should be checked by the doctor immediately.

What Do You Need To Know In Your Fifth Month Of Pregnancy?

In the case of the following symptoms, get medical help right away (17, 18):

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Belly or pelvic pain or severe cramping
  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, chills
  • Painful or less urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours or gets worse
  • Dizziness
  • Increased vaginal discharge or discharge with a foul smell

Do not overlook any unusual symptoms that could indicate complications with the pregnancy. Find out more about them next.

Complications In The Fifth Month Of Pregnancy

Pregnancy complications during this month include miscarriage or stillbirth ( 9, 20, 21).

Miscarriage: It is also described as pregnancy loss and happens before the 20th week of pregnancy. Its symptoms include:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pain or cramps in the lower abdomen
  • Low back pain
  • Tissues, fluids, or clot-like material passing through the vagina.

Stillbirth: Also termed as fetal death can happen in or after the 20th week. It may be due to any birth defects or pregnancy complications.

Keep reading to what you can do to make your pregnancy a better experience.

Precautions To Be Taken In The Fifth Month

Here are some precautionary measures you can follow in the fifth month:

  • Keep your stress at bay.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Give rest to your body.
  • Maintain oral hygiene.
  • Maintain the right posture while sitting and try sleeping positions that promote sound and comfortable sleep. Do not sit or stand suddenly as it may cause the blood pressure to drop and result in fainting or dizziness (22).
  • Take prenatal vitamins regularly.
  • Do not lift heavy objects.
  • Have smaller meals at regular intervals.
  • Do not take any medicines without consulting the doctor.
  • Try walking and Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic muscles.
  • Wear loose, breathable clothes and comfortable flat footwear.
  • Stay away from harmful chemicals.

There is a lot a partner can do to make you feel comfortable. Here are some must-do tips for the dads-to-be.

Tips For Dad-To-Be

  • Help your partner with household chores
  • Create a pleasant environment for her at home.
  • Accompany her during the prenatal visits.
  • Plan a day out with her.
  • Go shopping with her for maternal essentials.
  • Give her a good foot and neck massage.

The journey of pregnancy is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. The ups and down may take a significant toll on your body. However, you can stay relaxed as this phase is temporary. The moment you hold the little one in your hand, you are likely to forget all the pains. Stay relaxed and positive to enjoy this phase fully.

Key Pointers

  • The fifth month of pregnancy marks the beginning of the baby’s growth spurt that brings several physical changes in its body.
  • You too undergo several physical, mental, and emotional changes that would cause you to experience a range of symptoms, such as appetite increase, weight gain, frequent urination, and enlarged breasts.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and pay special attention to nutrients, such as protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, C, and D supports your baby’s proper growth and development.
  • Physical examination, blood test, and ultrasound are a few ways your ob/gyn will assess your baby’s growth during this month.
  • Certain complications can occur during this month, so take the necessary precautions and don’t overlook any unusual symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding or a high-grade fever with chills.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Stages of pregnancy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
2. What happens in the sixth month of pregnancy?, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc (2019)
3. Leg cramps during pregnancy, Healthdirect
4. Pregnancy – week by week, Health and Human Services (2012)
5. Week by Week Fetus Size Demonstrated by Fruits, EPAOA (2014-2019)
6. Fetal Development, UNSW Embryology (2018)
7. Fetal development – month 5, Sutter Health (2018)
8. Prenatal Form and Function – The Making of an Earth Suit, THE ENDOWMENT FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, INC (2001-2019)
9. 18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Body Shape Begins to Change, National Women’s Health Resource Center, Inc
10. Quickening and Baby Movements: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th Month, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research (2016)
11. Nutrition During Pregnancy, ACOG
12. Listeria Infection (Listeriosis), Organization of Teratology Information Specialists
13. Pregnancy Precautions: FAQs, The Nemours Foundation (1995-2019)
14. How Celiac Disease Affects Pregnancy, Celiac Disease Foundation (1998-2018)
15. Morphology scan, Healthdirect.
16. Common Tests During Pregnancy, Stanford Children’s Health (2019)
17. When to call us, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc (2018)
18. Prenatal care in your second trimester, NIH (2019)
19. What are some common complications of pregnancy?, NIH (2017)
20. What are the symptoms of pregnancy loss (before 20 weeks of pregnancy)?, NIH (2017)
21. Stillbirth, NIH (2016)
22. Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low, American Heart Association, Inc (2019)
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shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs from the University of Mumbai. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health...
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Dr. Vimee Bindra

Dr. Vimee Bindra is a Consultant Gynaecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon, and medical writer. She specializes in Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Gynae Endoscopic Surgery, and Endometriosis Excision. She graduated from R G Kar Medical College, Kolkata (1998-2003), and pursued her post-graduation in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Kolkata (2005-2008). She also obtained the advanced Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy training from Clermont Ferrand in France. Dr....
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