Week 20 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Pregnancy Week 20

Welcome to week 20 of your pregnancy—you have made it halfway point. To celebrate, you may be able to find out your baby’s sex this week, if you are so inclined. Now’s also the perfect time to sign up for a birthing class, if you haven’t already.
 

Your Trimester: Second trimester

Weeks to Go: 20

You This Week

Your ever-expanding uterus no longer fits inside your pelvis.

In fact, this week it’s now at the same level as your belly button. For some, this upward uterine movement may even cause an innie belly button to become an outie.

While you can’t do anything to prevent this pop-out, know that this change is generally temporary and harmless. However, you should let your healthcare provider know if your belly button inverts so he or she can rule out the possibility of a hernia, when part of an organ protrudes through an opening in a muscle.

Depending on your preconception weight, you’ve likely gained approximately 8 to 10 pounds by this point in your pregnancy—and you can expect to continue gaining about half a pound to a pound each week for the remainder of your pregnancy.

That weight gain, of course, is not simply due to consuming more calories. Instead, it’s a reflection of a lot of different things in your pregnant body, including your growing baby, amniotic fluid, placenta, and your uterus.

Unfortunately for some, this uptick in weight may already be putting stress on the leg muscles, which can lead to cramps. Also increasing your odds of leg cramps: changes in your circulation and pressure on your nerves and blood vessels.

Your Baby This Week

By week’s end, your baby-to-be will weigh about 9 ounces and he or she will stretch to about 7¾ inches long.

Underneath the layer of vernix (a wax-like, protective coating) that baby has already developed, his or her skin is continuing to thicken and establish layers this week. At the same time, baby’s hair and nails are steadily growing.

Even though you are months and months away from offering your baby breast milk, formula, or baby food, know that his or her taste buds are busy developing right now—as are baby’s swallowing skills. In-utero swallowing isn’t just for practice, however. It’s an imperative function that, in part, leads to the production of meconium, which begins to accumulate in baby’s digestive tract this week.

Meconium—the thick, sticky, dark-colored substance that will be baby’s first bowel movement—is a mix of ingested amniotic fluid, digestive secretions, skin cells, lanugo (fine hair that covers baby’s skin), and more. Some babies have their first bowel movement, when they pass meconium, during labor and birth, while most others do so sometime within the first 24 hours of life.

At Your Doctor’s Office

If you’re like many pregnant women, this week may mark your fourth prenatal visit. Like appointments before, your physician or midwife will take a urine sample and measure your blood pressure and weight.

In addition, your healthcare provider will measure the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus in order to calculate your fundal height. This measurement is used to gauge baby’s growth, and this week your fundal height often syncs up (within a centimeter or two) with the number of weeks you are. So, being 20 weeks pregnant may translate to a fundal height of 20 centimeters. If you’re carrying multiples, however, your healthcare provider will very likely skip this because it’s much more difficult to discern an average measurement when there is more than one baby.  

Your 20-week visit may also include a structural ultrasound.

(This test is also called an anatomy screen, a 20-week ultrasound, or a level 2 ultrasound.) A technician will squirt a thin layer of cold jelly on your abdomen and use a hand-held transducer to take a look at your baby-to-be.

While parents-to-be can often learn their baby’s sex with this scan, that’s not the actual reason it’s done. Instead, your healthcare provider is evaluating how your baby’s organs and systems are developing. This scan can take about 30 to 40 minutes, and most healthcare providers will ask you to arrive with a full bladder.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Right now, you’re likely still going to prenatal appointments about every four weeks, so you can expect your next visit to be at week 24. At that point, your healthcare provider will likely perform a blood glucose test to determine if you have gestational diabetes. Since pregnancy affects a woman’s ability to metabolize blood sugar, the American Diabetes Association recommends all expectant mothers get this test. (Know that for some, but not all pregnant women, pre-test fasting is involved. If this applies to you, be sure to make your appointment early in the day.)

Taking Care

Weight gain, circulation issues, and added pressure on your nerves and blood vessels may be behind your leg cramps, but know that dehydration and sedentary behavior can be part of the problem, too.

To help tackle pain from all angles:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout your day.

  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long stretches.

  • Try not to cross your legs, since that can restrict blood flow.

  • Take warm baths before turning in to help loosen sore and tight muscles. (You can also use direct heat by way of a wrapped hot water bottle.)

For Partners

Are you starting to think about helping the mom-to-be by getting baby’s room ready? If so, it’s important for you to take the lead as far as actual painting goes, if possible. While there are no studies linking household paint to negative pregnancy outcomes, it’s widely recommended that pregnant women limit exposure to household paints and their fumes. It’s also a good idea to use paints that are considered low- or zero-VOC, which contain less chemical solvents than standard paints. And, of course, painting should be done with proper ventilation to disperse the fumes.

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.

  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.

  • Start thinking about nursery paint colors.

  • Continue taking a nightly bath to help with pain and sleep.

  • Make it a point to stop crossing your legs.

Last Week: Week 19
Coming Up: Week 21

Sources:

American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Week 20. http://americanpregnancy.org/week-by-week/20-weeks-pregnant/

American Pregnancy Association. Uterus Size During Pregnancy. http://americanpregnancy.org/while-pregnant/uterus-size-during-pregnancy

National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting. Second Trimester of Pregnancy: 20 Weeks Pregnant. http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/20-weeks-pregnant-symptoms-and-signs

National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting. What to Expect From Prenatal Genetic Testing. http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/what-expect-prenatal-genetic-testing