20 weeks pregnant: Tips and nutrition
A 20-week foetus’ body can do amazing things. Insulin production is already underway to regulate blood sugar long before any baby dreams of ice-cream.
At a glance
Can’t get enough kicks? Take a few moments to chill in a quiet room and you may notice them more
Fight plaque with an alcohol-free mouthwash
Beware of the cat. Wash your hands after handling cats to avoid transmitting disease, toxoplasmosis, to baby
Baby's development at 20 weeks pregnant
At 20 weeks your baby is the length of a banana and growing really quickly, especially when it comes to brain development. Thankfully that tiny body has finally started catching up with the head and baby is starting to look more in proportion and less like an alien.
The pancreas is starting to produce baby’s insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin also allows baby to use sugar and fat for growth, and to stockpile it under the skin for birth. Clever little clogs.
Plus, if you’re having a girl, her ovaries are already equipped with enough primitive cells to produce six million eggs.
Changes in you and your body at 20 weeks pregnant
The first time you feel your baby move inside you is like… wow! If you’re not feeling much yet, don’t worry, this is normal as baby movements at 20 weeks differ from mum to mum. At this stage you’ll only feel subtle movements: a twitch maybe, or a flutter. It takes some practise to recognise them when they come - patience and a bit of peace and quiet help.
Bear in mind that babies usually have their most active phase in the evening between 8-11 p.m., and when you move around, you’re basically rocking them to sleep. They can sleep up to 20 hours a day right now. Lucky baby. It’s usual for kicks against your tummy only to become really clear from the 25th week as baby and bump grow.
As the weeks go by, many mums-to-be develop stretch marks on their skin as their babies grow. You can help soften the marks by rubbing creams or oils into your bump, boobs and bum. Even better, ask your partner or a friend to massage you with sweet almond, avocado or evening primrose oils, for the maximum feel-good experience. For advice on safe oils to use in pregnancy, speak to your midwife.
Nutrition at 20 weeks pregnant
Sadly, as a pregnant woman, you are at a higher risk of gum disease due to increased levels of progesterone. So, it’s important to resist donut temptation and control your sugar intake. Your gums can become swollen and bleed, and your teeth are more likely to be attacked by plaque too. Here’s a few ways to look after your teeth and gums:
- Mouthwash is great for fighting plaque, just make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol.
- Regular trips to the dentist are also important to keep your gums in good shape.
Remember to tell your dentist the names and dosages of all medications you are taking, including vitamins such as folic acid, as these may affect your treatment plan.
Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy alert
Toxoplasmosis can be critical in pregnant women. It is transmitted from infected meat and faeces from infected cats. Many people will have had toxoplasmosis and not even known it but in pregnant women it can cause issues with baby so it’s best to be safe and take a few precautions.
Here’s what to do:
- Avoid emptying cat litter trays – if you have to, wear disposable rubber gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards
- Change your cat's litter tray daily – it should also be thoroughly cleaned every day using hot water, ideally not by you
- Wear gloves when gardening. Even if you don't have a cat the soil can be contaminated with cat faeces
- Don’t handle or eat raw, cured or undercooked meat like Parma Ham and salami