Pregnancy Articles

Week 21: Feed Your Body, Your Baby

Your Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy

Your Baby This Week

Your baby weighs more than 10 ounces (.28 kg) and is slightly longer than 7 inches (17 cm), which is about the size of a large banana--but what a personality! The rapid growth phase has slowed, but organs and other body systems continue to mature. The swallowing reflex is in full swing and your baby will begin to "drink" amniotic fluid, which helps his digestive system to develop.

Your baby's oil glands are also starting to produce a waxy substance known as the vernix caseosa, which soothes and protects his skin in the amniotic fluid. And the buds for permanent teeth are forming! There's no smile yet, but that'll happen sooner than you think!

Your Body This Week

You're gaining weight and your pregnancy is showing, so stand tall and be proud. You're going to be a Mom! As your uterus enlarges, the outermost abdominal muscles pull away from the center of your stomach, resulting in a condition known as diastasis recti. You may see this as a "separation" down the middle of your tummy. It's completely normal and usually resolves after birth, but take care not to do any excessive abdominal workouts, particularly crunches. (After the baby is born, check out the exercise demonstrations to help correct separated stomach muscles. You may also develop more swelling in your feet and legs, which you can relieve by elevating your feet. If you do not experience relief, or if portions of your legs are hot and red, talk to your doctor. You may have a small blockage in a blood vessel.

Know Your Nutritional Needs

There are a lot of food choices out there. At 21 weeks, it's important that you continue to get the right amount of nutrition for you and the baby growing inside you. Fortunately, the USDA's new Food Guide Pyramid is a nutritional road map that points you in the right direction. With a special emphasis on fresh food, the new pyramid helps you personalize your diet to fit your needs. Based on the new pyramid, below are the five basic food groups with a general recommended number of servings for each group:

Food Group

How much

Examples of food


9--11 servings

Cereal, bread, pasta, rice


3--4 servings

Fresh fruit, juice, canned


4--5 servings

Raw veggies, cooked, juice


3 servings

Meat, eggs, beans, fish


3 servings

Milk, yogurt, cheese

Here is more information about the new food guide pyramid.

Look Good, Feel Better

Who says you have to look and feel miserable while you work out? Until recently, a lack of decent maternity workout clothes has been a real problem. The need to stretch here, support this, cover that, and breathe there--especially important as your body starts to grow in new directions--were issues most clothing designers didn't bother addressing. But things are different now. Comfort, support and style can now come hand-in-hand-in-hand. Check out these tips on what to look for in maternity workout clothes.

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