Pregnancy week 21 – Mid-pregnancy bliss may still come with anxiety

December 03, 2012 12:00 AM by

YOUR CHANGING LIFE

Feeling good – you knew that you would!
Welcome to week 21 of your pregnancy. Now that you're past the halfway point, you probably feel like you're getting better at this whole pregnancy thing. Annoyances like back pain, heartburn and the stress of planning might still be pretty difficult to deal with, but plenty of great things are happening, too. Here's what's going on with your body this week.

In the middle of the second trimester of pregnancy, most moms-to-be report feeling pretty good. Morning sickness is a thing of the past for many women, frequent urges to pee have probably dissipated and fatigue is easier to manage. Also, your belly isn't so big yet that it's making you feel uncomfortable. That's a lot to celebrate!

However, your baby bump is growing, which means there could be stretch marks appearing and your skin might start to itch. These pink, brown or purple streaks usually appear on pregnant women's bellies and breasts as the supporting tissue under the skin stretches and tears. It helps to keep these body parts moisturized, but there's really no way to avoid stretch marks. Don't worry, though – there are ways to make them fade after delivery by using scar creams or ointments.

Varicose veins might also be an issue you're starting to see. As you get closer to your due date, there's more pressure on the veins in your legs and more progesterone coursing through your body, which relaxes the walls of your veins and make them more noticeable. You can prevent or minimize their appearance by keeping up with physical activity, propping your feet up whenever you can and even wearing maternity support hose.

YOUR BABY THIS WEEK

From banana to carrot
This week, your baby weighs around three-quarters of a pound and is about the length of a carrot. Pretty soon, those little flutters you feel will start to seem more like kicks and punches – so don't be weirded out if things get a little crazier in there! By now, you might also be noticing your baby's habits, like when he or she is awake or sleeping. This is useful info to keep in mind when you're trying to get into a routine after giving birth.

Now that your baby's taste buds are developed and he or she is swallowing amniotic fluid on a regular basis, your little one can start to get a taste of that delicious food you eat. And you know what's kind of cool? Your baby might even develop a taste for the things that you eat most often when he or she gets older!

Another new development is that your baby can now experience rapid eye movement sleep, also known as REM sleep. This is a healthy stage of sleep that indicates that your little one is capable of dreaming – who knows what's going on in his or her subconscious at this point!

HOW TO

Deal with anxiety
Now that you're noticeably pregnant and can feel definite flutters in your uterus, the reality of pregnancy is probably sinking in. While it's obviously a great feeling, the realization that you're getting closer to your due date and have to start making some big decisions about your little one's arrival and upbringing might be giving you anxiety. This is totally normal!

Most moms-to-be (and even their partners) experience anxiety and even fear about pregnancy at some point during the experience. Whether it's about being a first-time mom, sticking to a budget with so many things to buy for your baby or going into labor, it's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed about this big change in your life.

Instead of trying to keep your feelings of anxiety to yourself, it's healthier to put them out in the open by talking about it with people you trust. Talk over your feelings with a friend who's been through a pregnancy already or discuss the situation with your mom, who obviously went through it too. They should be able to make you feel better by bringing things back into perspective.

Of course, you should also open up to your partner. Chances are, he's going through the same emotions as you are, so you're bound to find some common ground. Explaining your thoughts and listening to how he feels can make you both feel better about the situation, and may even help you figure out ways to relieve the anxiety.

And don't forget – indulging in some dark chocolate, taking a warm (but not hot!) bubble bath or spending a night watching movies and cuddling on the couch are all great ways to get rid of pregnancy stress!

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