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Pregnancy and baby

You and your baby at 21-24 weeks pregnant

Your baby's development

By 21 weeks, your baby weighs around 350g. From about this stage onwards, your baby will weigh more than the placenta, which, until now, was heavier than your baby. The placenta will keep growing throughout pregnancy, but not as fast as your baby.

Around this time, the baby becomes covered in a very fine, soft hair called lanugo. The purpose of this isn't known, but it's thought it may be to keep the baby at the right temperature. The lanugo usually disappears before birth.

Your baby is beginning to get into a pattern of sleeping and waking, which won't necessarily be the same as yours. When you're in bed at night, feeling relaxed and trying to sleep, your baby may be wide awake and moving about.

The lungs are not yet able to work properly, but your baby is practising breathing movements to prepare for life outside the uterus. Your baby gets all its oxygen from you via the placenta, and will do so until it's born.

By the time you're 24 weeks pregnant, the baby has a chance of survival if he or she is born. Most babies born before this time cannot live because their lungs and other vital organs aren't developed enough.

The care that can now be given in baby (neonatal) units means more and more babies born early do survive. But for babies born around this time, there are increased risks of disability.

Find out about premature labour and birth and special care for babies.

Your body at 21-24 weeks pregnant

Your womb will begin to get bigger more quickly and you'll really begin to look pregnant. You may feel hungrier than before – try to stick to a sensible, balanced diet, and make sure you know what foods to avoid.

Not everybody gets stretch marks, but if you do develop them, they will probably start becoming noticeable when you're around 22-24 weeks pregnant.

They may appear on your stomach, breasts and thighs. At first they look red, then fade to a silvery grey. Your breasts may start to leak a little pre-milk – this is normal.

Tips for 21-24 weeks pregnant

Common minor problems can include backache, indigestion and piles. Find out how to protect your back, relieve or prevent indigestion and heartburn, and deal with piles (haemorrhoids).  

Pregnant women in England are advised to have the whooping cough vaccination between 20 weeks (after the scan) and 32 weeks of pregnancy. Find out about the whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy.

Find out about the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby.

Warning signs to look out for

Vaginal bleeding

Bleeding from the vagina may be a sign of serious problems, so seek help.

Severe itching

Severe itching at any time in pregnancy could be a sign of the rare liver disorder obstetric cholestasis – talk to your midwife.

When pregnancy goes wrong

It's very important you have all the support you need, which is available from your care team and other organisations. Find out about miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth.

Pregnancy week by week

Find out what's happening to you and your baby at:

0-8 weeks pregnant

9, 10, 11, 12 weeks pregnant

13, 14, 15, 16 weeks pregnant

17, 18, 19, 20 weeks pregnant

25, 26, 27, 28 weeks pregnant

29, 30, 31, 32 weeks pregnant

33, 34, 35, 36 weeks pregnant

37, 38, 39, 40 weeks pregnant

Over 40 weeks pregnant

Find maternity services near you

Page last reviewed: 28/02/2017

Next review due: 28/02/2020


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