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21-Week pregnant: Development and diet

Though the foetus now weighs around half a kilo, your little darling still has plenty of room in your belly. And likes to use it when not asleep! Read more about this week.

3 mins
to read Jan 7, 2021

WEEK 21 DEVELOPMENT

At this stage of pregnancy, your child floats in plenty of amniotic fluid, which is replenished often. You may now understand why drinking plenty of water is important. Your respiration pattern changes too. Your breathing becomes more frequent and at times, you may seem out of breath. This may be due to the gain in weight but also it is a space issue, as your child grows, your organs have less and less room. If you have any concerns about your breathing, be sure to consult with your health care provider.

Though he doesn’t need to make use of them in his current home – your child’s senses of taste and smell continue developing this week. They are stimulated ever so slightly by your amniotic fluid. It carries the aromatic molecules from the food you eat and the smell of your environment to him! Thus, at birth, your child will already be attracted to the smell of your skin, your milk, sweet taste (because the amniotic fluid is slightly sweet), and may even be familiar later on with foods you consumed regularly in late pregnancy. Soon, his brain will be mature enough for him to memorise these sensory experiences. Your eating habits, if you like Mediterranean food with lots of garlic for example, can already be introduced to your child, in utero.

NUTRITION

In addition to protein, folic acid, zinc, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), iodine, and vitamin A that have already been mentioned, one important nutrient – especially for women who are pregnant and following a vegan diet - is Vitamin B12. Since vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese, it takes a bit more attention for vegans to meet their dietary recommendation. And, as vitamin B12 is needed for the production of red blood cells and helps the nervous system, it is especially important during pregnancy. Vegans can find it in Vitamin B12-fortified foods, such as some breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast, check the food package. Be sure to inform your health care provider if you are following a vegan diet, and she may have additional suggestions.

TIPS

Indigestion been getting you down lately? An unpleasant and quite common side effect of pregnancy, hormonal changes make the upper stomach opening slacker. This makes it easier than usual for stomach acid to get into the esophagus and that causes the uncomfortable feeling you’ve been experiencing. The larger the child, the more it presses on the stomach and increases this effect!

A change in eating habits can often be helpful: try five small meals a day instead of three large ones. Make sure you chew thoroughly. Another trick if you suffer from indigestion at night is to prop up your head. Then the acid cannot rise up so easily.

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