Welcome to week 20
Well done! By the end of the week you'll be halfway through your pregnancy, as dated from your last period! This may be the week of your anomaly scan when you'll get to see your baby on screen again, discover the sex if you wish – and you will receive reassurance that your baby's development is on track. Remember that in a minority of pregnancies, developmental abnormalities can be detected at this stage. Early detection gives the best outcome and provides expectant parents a chance to come to terms with any potential problems.
Your baby's crown-to-rump length is around 15cm (6 inches) which is about the same height as a can of lager. Your baby has put on another 60g this week, bringing his weight up to around 260g (9oz) – just 10g heavier than a pat of butter. The digestive system is becoming more sophisticated with each passing week and your baby can now utilize some of the nutrients contained in your amniotic fluid.
On the outside
Subtle changes are taking place that you might notice: an increase in skin pigmentation means you might see a faint (or, in some women pronounced) line running from your pubic bone up to your belly button: this is called a linea nigra and will disappear after the birth. You'll notice your nipples becoming darker – and they won't change back after the birth. You might find your bum and thighs expanding as your pelvis broadens, and you'll certainly notice more growth bump-wise! Your breasts will be larger than they were pre-pregnancy, so don't forget to have regular bra fittings and to choose cotton, non-wired bras with wide, supportive straps and a deep hook band. This will help to minimise you'll minimize back and neck pain too.
Things to think about
You might not want to dwell on your pelvic floor, the girdle of muscles beneath your pelvis, but it's an essential muscle that you will need to familiarise yourself with. You can work them by contracting your anus (there's no nice way of saying it!) and by trying to stop yourself mid-wee.
Pelvic floor muscles help to prevent stress incontinence after pregnancy (where a small amount of wee escapes when you put your bladder under stress through lifting, coughing, sneezing or laughing). They can also help to retain muscle tone in your vagina so that your enjoyment of sex (and your partner's) isn't impaired.
You can practice pelvic floor exercises any time, any place – just watch out that you're not grimacing with concentration, as this is a dead giveaway!
• Imagine you're trying to stop yourself weeing, then gently pull this set of muscles up as tight as you can: your anus should contract at the same time.
• To get the timing and intensity right, imagine your pelvic floor muscles as a lift moving up from one floor to the next as you tighten them.
• Hold the squeeze for a few seconds, then relax the muscles gradually as you take the lift back down to the ground floor.
• Do as many repetitions as you can – and practice as often as possible. You can do them sitting, standing or lying down, so there aren't any excuses. All women should really do pelvic floor exercises every day of their lives.
See previous week: 19 weeks pregnant
See next week: 21 weeks pregnant