20 Weeks Pregnant

Reviewed by
Dr. Daniel Lee

Week 20 of your pregnancy signifies the middle of your second trimester, as well as the middle of your pregnancy. Congratulations—you’ve survived the fatigue, morning sickness, nausea and other pregnancy symptoms so far. You are probably starting to feel better at this point, but you may still experience some fatigue and pain. During this week there are many exciting developmental changes happening with your baby.

Symptoms and Body Changes at 20 Weeks

Most women who have smaller body frames begin to experience trouble breathing at this point. The baby’s growth has reached the point at which the baby is pressing on your internal organs, making it hard to breathe. The top of your uterus is parallel with your belly button, and you’ve probably gained close to fifteen pounds. From this week on, you can expect to gain up to a pound per week. Your waistline continues to expand, and indigestion, heartburn, itching, and constipation probably occur more frequently. You’re also experiencing more and more trips to the restroom at this point.

You need to continue to incorporate plenty of iron into your diet, as your baby is using much of the iron that you take in. Dark fruits and vegetables, eggs, chicken, dried fruits, wheat germ, oatmeal, spinach, and other leafy vegetables are all good sources of iron. A shortage of iron can cause a variety of problems with your pregnancy, including anemia or premature labor in some cases.

Baby’s Development

At 11 ounces and a little more than 7 ½ inches long, your baby’s growth has slowed in recent weeks, but it will begin to accelerate again from the twentieth week forward. You’re probably feeling your baby’s movements more frequently as he or she tests the boundaries within the walls of the womb. The lungs are not yet mature, but the baby is breathing. A dark green sticky substance called meconium is being produced. Meconium consists of cell loss and amniotic fluid that has been swallowed with digestive secretions. Lanugo (fine hair) still covers the body, and the hair on the scalp is growing quickly. The ears are fully functioning on their own now, so it’s important to spend time in calm and quiet environments, as your baby sleeps for an average of 20 hours per day.

20-weeks-pregnant

Pregnancy Week 20 Tips

Now is a good time to start a birthing plan if you haven’t done so yet. Include details about your preferences for the birth of the baby, and what procedures you’d like followed in case of emergencies. Feel free to share your birthing plan with your obstetrician so that he or she can provide input. This will allow you to feel more in control if there are unexpected complications, or if the birth isn’t routine. You may want to start a baby book or a journal that includes your feelings, photos, the baby’s movements, etc. This can help you reflect later down the road, and realize how far you’ve come. Continue exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy. Next is 21 weeks pregnant.

[Page updated May 2014]