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20 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby's Development

You’re at the halfway mark of your pregnancy, and there are lots of developments to celebrate — here's are just a few of them. Your baby is looking more babylike than ever, as facial features including the nose take shape. His sucking reflex is coming along, and it's possible that he may suck his thumb this week or sometime soon. Rapid brain growth continues, particularly in the nerve centers dedicated to the senses.

Your little one is in the process of developing a definite sleep-wake cycle and is also becoming responsive to sounds in the environment. From time to time, loud noises may even wake him.

Around this time your baby’s skin is thickening and layers of skin are forming as well. The skin is protected from the amniotic fluid by a waxy coating called vernix.

Around 20 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s digestive system starts to produce a greenish-black, sticky substance called meconium, which will accumulate in his bowels over the rest of the pregnancy. Typically, your baby will pass this substance after he’s born, and you’ll see it in your baby’s first few diapers.

Pregnant with twins and wondering what your little ones might be up to? Find out more about what’s happening this week when carrying twins.

How Big Is Your Baby at 20 Weeks?

By this stage your baby may weigh about 9 to 11 ounces pound and is over 6 inches long, crown to rump — you could cup your little guy in the palms of your hands.

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Mom's Body at 20 Weeks Pregnant

At this point in your pregnancy, or sometime soon, you’re likely to feel your baby's movements, which is sometimes called quickening. Both the timing and the actual sensation vary from woman to woman — this is another way in which each and every pregnancy is unique — but you may sense tiny flutters or rumblings in your tummy! In the next few weeks, you might also detect some rhythmic jerking — baby hiccups!

If you have a checkup at 20 weeks, your healthcare provider may measure the distance from your pubic bone to the top of the uterus, which is called the fundus. This fundal height measurement gives your provider information about your baby’s growth. At around 20 weeks of pregnancy, the top of the uterus reaches the navel, and your fundal height would be about 7 to 8.5 inches (18 to 22 centimeters). Here's a fun fact about the fundal height measurement: Your fundal height in centimeters is roughly equal to the number of weeks you are pregnant!

pregnancy week 20 fetus
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If you’re 20 weeks pregnant with twins, you might notice your belly growing more quickly than it would with a single baby.

20 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

  • Constipation. Hormonal activity and your growing baby pushing against your intestines can lead to constipation. Although this condition can be uncomfortable, drinking more water and eating more fiber can help get things moving.
  • Congestion and nosebleeds. Increased levels of hormones and extra blood volume during pregnancy can make the mucous membranes in your nose swell and dry out. This can lead to both congestion and nosebleeds. It's helpful to use a humidifier to moisten the air and to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Lower back pain. As your belly grows and you gain pregnancy weight, you might find your back hurting, particularly toward the end of the day. There are a few things you can do to prevent or ease this discomfort, including wearing low-heeled shoes (not high heels but not completely flat shoes either), doing gentle exercise that helps stretch and strengthen your back muscles, and wearing a belly support band.
  • Forgetfulness. You may be having a hard time concentrating as well as you used to, and you may find that you’re forgetting small things. It might help to create checklists or reminders (on paper, sticky notes, or your phone), and to give yourself some extra breaks while doing tasks that require your concentration.
  • Swollen feet. This condition can be caused by both weight gain and fluid retention, but a hormone called relaxin also contributes. This hormone relaxes ligaments and joints to help make it easier for your baby to pass through the pelvis during birth, but relaxin also loosens the ligaments elsewhere in your body — including those in your feet, causing them to spread. To help you feel more comfortable, you may need to go up a shoe size; also, try propping your feet up on a pillow or footrest as often as you can.

20 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

  • Mid-pregnancy ultrasound scan. Your healthcare provider may recommend an ultrasound scan at around 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. This ultrasound helps your provider confirm that everything is progressing well, including the size and position of your baby, and checking that the bones and organs that are visible are developing well. In addition, during this scan your provider can get an estimate of your baby’s gestational age and weight, detect his movement and heartrate, see the position of the placenta, and check the amount of amniotic fluid. You may also be able to find out whether you're expecting a girl or a boy (or choose to wait and be surprised). Ask your healthcare provider for advice if you have any questions about the ultrasound. By the way, if you don’t yet know the gender of your baby and you want to have a little fun, take our quiz to guess the gender.
  • Planning a trip. The second trimester is usually a good time to travel, as your pregnancy symptoms may be a little less intense and your belly is probably not so big yet that it’s uncomfortable getting around. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning to get away. Don’t commit yourself to a rigid schedule or plan too many activities, and be prepared to change your itinerary at the last minute based on how you’re feeling. If you’re thinking of flying, check with your healthcare provider and the airline. Although most airlines allow pregnant women to fly until about 36 weeks, each airline has its own policies. Whether you travel by bus, train, car, or plane, try to take breaks and get up and walk around regularly, stay hydrated, eat regularly to boost your energy, and have a copy of your health records with you. It’s a good idea to get a prenatal checkup before you leave, to make sure everything is OK.
  • Involving your partner. There are many things you can do to help your partner experience more of your pregnancy along with you. For example, go together to the checkups and ultrasounds, and share the fun (and the work) of decorating the nursery. You could even go to childbirth classes together so your partner knows more about what you’ll experience during labor and delivery, and how you can both prepare for the big day. These classes offer a chance to meet other parents, too. For more information, read our article on how your partner can prepare for parenthood.

20 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • Am I on the right track with weight gain for my pregnancy? What should I do differently if not?
  • I’m planning a vacation — do you have any medical advice about the destination I’m visiting?
  • Can you recommend a pediatrician?

20 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

Celebrate — you’re halfway there! Consider organizing a date night with your partner to mark this milestone, or enjoy some “me time” as a way to reflect on what your body’s achieved so far and what’s to come in the second half of your pregnancy.

If you now know the gender of your baby, you may want to organize a gender reveal party The gender reveal can also be part of your baby shower. If you’d like your shower to have a gender reveal moment in it, you could pass these gender reveal themed shower ideas on to the host.

If you’re still on the hunt for a boy’s or a girl’s name, take another look at our Baby Name Generator, where you can search hundreds of names by gender and lots of other filters.

The ultrasound at 20 weeks might be your first peek at your baby, and this can make parenthood seem all the more real. Ask for a printout of the ultrasound image so you can start your baby's first photo album. In just a few months’ time, when your baby is born, you’ll be able to fill the album with many more prints.

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20 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

Celebrate — you’re halfway there! Consider organizing a date night with your partner to mark this milestone, or enjoy some “me time” as a way to reflect on what your body’s achieved so far and what’s to come in the second half of your pregnancy.

If you now know the gender of your baby, you may want to organize a gender reveal party The gender reveal can also be part of your baby shower. If you’d like your shower to have a gender reveal moment in it, you could pass these gender reveal themed shower ideas on to the host.

If you’re still on the hunt for a boy’s or a girl’s name, take another look at our Baby Name Generator, where you can search hundreds of names by gender and lots of other filters.

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