Weekly Guide to Pregnancy: Week 20
How big is my baby?
Fetal size: (14-16cm 5.6-6.4 inches). Fetal weight: 315g (9 ounces).
Your baby's skin has now formed two layers - the epidermis (outer layers) and the dermis (deep skin tissue). From 20 weeks, your baby's skin starts to secrete vernix (a white pasty substance that protects your baby's skin from the amniotic fluid). The vernix will be present on your baby's skin at birth.
You have now reached the half way mark in your pregnancy!
What pregnancy symptoms will I be experiencing?
You might find that your vaginal discharge increases as your pregnancy progresses. This is normal. The discharge is usually quite thick and is white to yellow in colour. Wear looser cotton underwear, and use panty liners when necessary. If you develop an infection, you will know because your discharge will have an unpleasant smell, will be more yellow to green in colour and will cause irritation or itchiness. Make an appointment to see your health care practitioner if you think you may have an infection.
Sometimes illnesses or complications develop during pregnancy. Two of the most common illnesses during pregnancy include:
Pre-eclampsia - this is the most common major illness of pregnancy and most frequently develops in first pregnancies. It is diagnosed when there is an increase in a woman's "normal" blood pressure, protein in the urine and fluid retention. Blood tests are used to further diagnose and monitor the condition. If pre-eclampsia is suspected the mother and baby will be kept under very close medical supervision. Treatment in the early stages is complete bed rest. However if the condition is in its early stages, a lot of women will feel well and not be aware of any change. Regular antenatal visits are recommended in order to diagnose this condition early. If there is thought to be any risk to the baby or mother, labour will be induced.
Gestational Diabetes - this is the second most common illness in pregnancy and can be linked to your family background. It occurs when a woman's body can't make proper use of the sugar (carbohydrate) that is consumed in her diet. Sugar is used as an energy source for the mother and baby and is essential for healthy growth and development. If the body gets too much or too little, problems can occur. Some health care practitioners test for this condition at about Week 28 (or earlier if any other signs develop, such as sugar being detected in the urine). It is useful to know your medical history, for example, have any members of your family been diagnosed with diabetes or gestational diabetes?
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