Pregnancy: Week - 21

How your baby is growing:

Your little bundle of joy has now reached a whole three fourths of a pound and is just over ten and one half inches tall! Growth does slow down ever so slightly during week twenty-one as some organ development begins. You baby’s bone marrow is beginning to take over red blood cell production from the spleen and liver. The spleen will stop producing red blood cells in the next few weeks and the liver about a month before your baby is born. (An adult’s liver and spleen don’t make red blood cells in case you were wondering.) His or her tiny body has also begun to produce its own white blood cells as well as accepting yours. The intestines will begin to process sugars this week as well allowing your baby to gain a bit of nutritional value from the amniotic fluid he or she swallows. The placenta however still supplies most of nutrients to your baby. Lastly, your baby’s eye lids have now formed over his or her fused eyes and the hair on his or her head has broken the surface and would be visible if you could look inside you!

How your body is changing:

Not a whole lot going on as far as your body goes this week; however your hormones have most likely entirely stabilized. What does that mean? Pretty much every woman has said bye, bye to the hormone induced pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness by this point.

One more issue you normally wouldn’t think about before getting pregnant, getting out of bed, and how hard it can be. This difficulty rising has nothing to do with being tired and more to do with that ever growing belly! So, here it is how to get out of bed while pregnant.

Move on to your side if you weren’t already in that position, tilt your feet off the side of the bed and let your self slide until you reach the floor then simply use your arms to push yourself to a standing position.

This technique is particularly helpful if you are experiencing extreme lower back pain. For some reason the pain seems most extreme when trying to come from a laying position to standing.

You may also want to know:

Test to Expect this week:

Most doctors will give the Glucose Tolerance Test around or during week twenty-one if it was not given earlier, due to high risk for gestation diabetes (You’ll see those risks below). It is fairly simple. You will be warned beforehand that the test will be given and told to fast for at least twelve to thirteen hours. It is important that you do this. Some women believe that they can just eat an early dinner sleep for eight hours and call it good. This likely will result in a false negative and you will have to do a more involved test. After fasting you’ll go to an appointment and drink a small glucose substance or doctor may give you this drink to take home, with instructions to take it thirty to forty minutes before arriving for the test. Be warned, this does not taste good. After about thirty to forty minutes if you took it at your appointment your blood will be drawn and sent out for testing. If you are properly processing sugars you pass, no gestational diabetes, no second test, you’re done. If you do not pass you will be given a second test. Again, you fast for twelve hours and go to your appointment, your blood will be drawn upon arrival to test your starting point and then you will be asked to drink the glucose drink from before. Your blood will be drawn every hour for four hours to monitor your blood glucose levels. If you pass this test, you again are done, however a failure here would indicate Gestational Diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes and what are its risks?

Gestational diabetes occurs in two to seven percent of women. It is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It does usually go away after your baby is born. Gestational diabetes causes glucose to stay in the body rather than being properly processed. Glucose is a type of sugar derived during digestion which enters the bloodstream with the help of insulin. Insulin however has a more difficult job to do while pregnant because of certain hormones, and if your pancreas is unable to pump out the increased amount needed to deal with all that extra glucose (about 3 times the normal), the result is gestational diabetes.

The risks of gestational Diabetes include:

  • Birth Defects and pre-term labor (in cases it occurs early in pregnancy)
  • Heavy birth weight and abnormal growth of the fetus (in cases it occurs late in pregnancy) this greatly increases the risk of labor complications.
  • Increased risk of actually becoming diabetic later in life.

There isn’t really anything you can do to prevent Gestational Diabetes other than maintain a healthy diet. There are a few predetermined risk factors that you can do nothing to change, those are: being overweight prior to being pregnant, a family history of diabetes, being of an "at risk" ethnicity (African American, American
Indian or Asian), previously having had gestational diabetes, previously having an over 9 pound baby, or a still birth, and/or having too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios).

Gestational diabetes is generally treated through a change in diet and exercise, but can also be medicated with a daily pill called Glyburide, or insulin shots. Home glucose monitoring and additional tests to keep an eye on your baby will also be necessary.