Pregnancy: Week 21
How your baby's growing:
Your baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long — the length of a carrot. You may soon feel like she's practicing martial arts as her initial fluttering movements turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges. You may also discover a pattern to her activity as you get to know her better. In other developments, your baby's eyebrows and lids are present now, and if you're having a girl, her vagina has begun to form as well.
How your life's changing:
You're probably feeling pretty comfortable these days. You're not too big yet, and the usual discomforts associated with early pregnancy are, for the most part, gone. If you're feeling good, relax and enjoy it while you can — the third trimester may bring with it a new crop of complaints.
That's not to say you won't have some minor glitches to deal with now. For example, increased oil production may contribute to the development (or worsening) of acne. If that's the case, be diligent about washing well with a gentle soap or cleanser twice a day, and make sure that any moisturizer or make-up you use is oil-free. Don't take any oral acne medications — some are very hazardous during pregnancy — or use any topical acne products without first checking with your practitioner.
You're also more prone to varicose veins now. As your pregnancy progresses, there's increasing pressure on the veins in your legs; higher progesterone levels, which may cause the walls of your veins to relax, can make the problem worse. You're more likely to get varicose veins if other family members have them. Also, they tend to get worse with each successive pregnancy and as you age. To help prevent or minimize varicose veins, exercise daily, prop up your feet and legs whenever possible, sleep on your left side, and wear maternity support hose.
You may also notice so-called spider veins (a group of tiny blood vessels near the surface of your skin), particularly on your ankles, legs, or face. They may have a spider- or sunburst-like pattern with little branches radiating out from the center, they may look like the branches of a tree, or they may be a group of separate thin lines with no particular pattern. Though they may be a bit unsightly, spider veins don't cause discomfort and usually disappear after delivery.
Hit the garage sales "I saved a ton of money on baby gear, nursery furniture, and toys by going to garage sales a few months before my baby was due. Many of the items I found were as good as new!" — Becca
3 Questions About...Sex during pregnancy
Is it normal to crave sex during pregnancy?
Some pregnant women feel their sexual desire skyrocket when they're pregnant, at least part of the time. They may enjoy the increased blood flow to the pelvic area and the heightened sensitivity to stimulation that this brings, as well as the increased vaginal lubrication due to hormonal changes. Said one BabyCenter mom-to-be, "Hormones have turned me into a sex machine! I seem to want it more and more lately."
But it's also completely normal not to crave sex. If you're having lots of aches and pains or feeling unattractive or just plain tired, your libido may take a nosedive. "I have no desire to be intimate with my husband. It's just that I'm tired all the time and uncomfortable in pretty much every position," reports another pregnant mom.
If you don't feel up to having intercourse, let your partner know how you feel and reassure him that you still love him. It's crucial to keep the lines of communication open and to support each other as best you can as you go through these changes together. And remember that there's more to physical intimacy than sex. You can still hug, kiss, and caress each other.
What positions are most comfortable now?
More than 75 percent of Baby Center parents-to-be who responded to a poll said they experimented with different lovemaking positions during pregnancy. Having intercourse side-by-side was a favorite for many. Some other positions to try:
· Straddle your partner as he lies on his back or sits on a sturdy chair. This way, there'll be no weight on your abdomen and you can control the depth of penetration
· Support yourself on your knees and elbows. Have your partner kneel and enter you from the rear.
Is sex ever off-limits during pregnancy?
You'll need to abstain if you have any of the following conditions or symptoms:
· a dilated cervix
· your water has broken, even if you're just leaking a bit
You'll also need to abstain if you or your partner has an outbreak of genital herpes or feel one coming on. Avoid intercourse and other genital contact for the entire third trimester if your partner has a history of genital herpes (and you don't), even if he has no sores or symptoms. The same applies to receiving oral sex if he has oral herpes (cold sores). Finally, don't have sex if you or your partner has any other sexually transmitted infection unless you've both been treated and follow-up testing was negative.
There are other situations in which your healthcare practitioner may advise you not to have sex. For example, if you had a spontaneous preterm birth in a previous pregnancy, she'll probably advise you to stop having sex at some point during this pregnancy and continue to abstain until you reach 37 weeks.