YOUR CHANGING LIFE
Yep, you definitely look pregnant!
Welcome to week 20 of your pregnancy. This week is a cause for celebration – you're halfway through your pregnancy! The first half may have seemed a bit tedious while you were getting used to your pregnancy symptoms, but from here on out it should be smoother sailing. So what's going on with your body at this point?
Right now, the top of your uterus is at about the same level as your belly button, and it should be pretty obvious that you're pregnant. This means you might get a bit more attention from people who want to wish you luck or ask questions about your little one and your pregnancy experiences.
You might also have noticed that your hair and nails are experiencing changes. Some women get stronger nails, while others start having dry, brittle nails. The hair on your head might look fuller and shinier, but the hair all over your body is probably thickening too. That means you might have a little extra shaving or plucking to do! These changes are caused by pregnancy hormones and increased circulation, which deliver extra nutrients to your hair and nail cells.
Aches and pains may also be surfacing right now. Your lower back and abdomen in particular may start feeling sore or experiencing sharp pains as your belly grows. Heartburn, indigestion and even flatulence are likely as your uterus starts crowding out your stomach. Ask your doctor what kinds of over-the-counter medicines are safe if you find these side effects hard to cope with.
YOUR BABY THIS WEEK
From tomato to banana
Halfway through your pregnancy, your baby will start being measured from head to heel rather than head to rump. This is because your baby's body was all curled up, but now he or she is stretching out! That's why this week your little one is the length of a banana, which is a big change from last week's tomato size!
Your baby is also swallowing amniotic fluid more often, which is good practice for his or her digestive system. Meconium is also being produced, which is a sticky black by-product of digestion. This stuff will accumulate in your little one's bowels and you'll most likely notice it in his or her first dirty diaper. Some babies pass it in the womb or during delivery, though.
Sleeping patterns are also starting to develop. Some babies even have preferred sleeping positions at this point, whether it's with the head thrown back, the chin resting on the chest or some other comfy pose. You may start to notice patterns of activity, which could clue you in to whether your baby will be more awake at night or active early in the morning.
Prepare for your midway ultrasound
Many doctors recommend getting an ultrasound around week 20 of your pregnancy to ensure that your baby's development is progressing properly. It can also help judge whether your due date is accurate and it's when you'll get your first chance to find out the baby's gender.
Your doctor might tell you to arrive for your ultrasound with a full bladder. This may seem weird, but it's actually helpful because it gives your baby less squirming room, which makes it easier for the ultrasound technician to get a good view of him or her as well as accurate measurements.
If you're planning to keep your baby's gender a surprise, it's a good idea to tell the technician and your doctor beforehand. That way, you won't risk overhearing something or seeing something by accident that could ruin the secret!
The technician will begin the ultrasound by applying a topical gel to your abdomen. This makes it easier for the high-frequency sound waves to travel through your belly. He or she then moves the transducer, which is a handheld device that looks kind of like a scanner you'd find in the check-out line of a store. This sends out sound waves as it moves across your belly, which are then translated by the machine to generate a picture.
The technician may have to prod your baby a little bit with the transducer to encourage movement, which could be necessary if he or she is in a position that doesn't allow for measurements. Keep in mind that some babies are simply uncooperative – sometimes technicians are unable to get accurate measurements or tell the gender of the baby because it's being shy! You'll get another chance at your next appointment if this is the case with your little one.
The whole procedure usually lasts about 30 minutes, and you may be able to leave with a recording of the session and/or several pictures of your baby to show off to friends or family. How exciting!