We're 20 weeks into your pregnancy and have officially reached the half way point! The development of your baby is beginning to shift from internal workings to growth – as most of the internal organs, skeletal and nervous system has developed. Your body is really starting to feel the effects of carrying a tiny person inside your belly; but there is definitely a promising light at the end of this journey.
By the time you've reached pregnancy week 20, the baby has grown to measuring around 25 centimeters long and roughly the same size as a banana from heel to head. Your baby has developed a fully functional nervous system, brain, respiratory system, arms, legs, fingers and toes. During the first 20 weeks of pregnancy your baby has developed personal identifying marks, like fingerprints, facial features, hair, and is beginning to finalize pigment in their skin. For you – the journey is about to enter what many experienced moms consider to be the final stretch – where you'll start to grow more than you'd probably like. However, the good news is that the struggles you deal with daily are about to pay off when your baby arrives.
As the baby enters its 20th week of development, he or she has truly transformed from a tiny zygote to a miniature you. The primary development is complete, and now is the time for the baby to grow stronger and bigger so they can sustain life outside the womb. There are a few critical elements of development that still need to be finished though; such as strengthening nerve endings and fibers that will permit the baby to have conscious control of their movements. This development also impacts their sense of smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch.
Another important item that is developed in week 20 is the production of Meconium – which is a harmless mix of amniotic fluid that has been injected by your baby, dead skin cells, and digestive secretion – (sounds yummy huh?). This will help them create their first bowel movement once they are born and will set the tone for thousands of diaper changes over the next few years.
Once you've reached this point in your pregnancy, it is very common for mommies to experience aching in their tummy as their baby bump continues to expand. This is due to ligaments on both sides of your womb that are expanding as the baby increases his or her size. This pain, although not pleasant, is completely normal. However, if it becomes increasingly difficult to handle, make sure to contact your doctor.
Another common pain that women develop at this time is a pelvic pain called pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain. It's also called symphysis pubis dysfunction. It's not a dangerous condition, but can be very uncomfortable and is typically treated by use of support girdles or physical therapy.
An unfortunate fact about entering pregnancy week 20 is that your baby bump is going to start causing some discomfort – more with each day that the baby grows. It is common for mommies to experience irritation and discomfort due to lack of sleep. However, there are a few cool toys you can pick up to help you sleep. One idea is to purchase some pregnancy-specialized pillows. You can use this while you sleep, sit in chairs, on a sofa or even while driving. The idea is to make sure you have ample support to ease stress on other muscles like your back, ribs and the sides.