All About Baby

By week 20, your baby-to-be is gearing up for the next phase in his development — filling out. His organs are getting into their proper places. His kidneys are now in position with their familiar bean shape. His testes (or ovaries for girls) have reached their position. His brain continues to form and grow. His teeth are beginning to appear, and he can swallow. If you haven’t been able to feel him move, chances are you’ll be feeling him move more and more over the coming weeks.

All About You

Sex and more sex! Remember that unless you’ve been advised against it by your healthcare provider because of bleeding or risk of miscarriage, sex is fine, a good stress reliever, and a great way to “touch bases” with your partner. Don’t feel up to it? That’s OK, too. Read Sex and Pregnancy and remember that cuddling is a good thing, too.

Kickin’ It

You’re finally comfortable in your maternity clothes — your protruding baby bump proudly declaring you’re going to be a mom, soon. In fact, you’re halfway there! By now you’re feeling your unborn baby wiggle and kick — which may be caused by your baby experiencing hiccups. Along with your progressing pregnancy, you may also notice more aches and pains. Your lower back and abdomen may be sore from your growing belly. Heartburn, indigestion, and flatulence are frequent as your expanding uterus allows less space for your stomach. Swelling, called edema, may make your hands and feet uncomfortable, too.

The Big Ultrasound

This week you’ll get a sneak peek at your unborn baby! At 20 weeks, most physicians request that you receive an ultrasound to determine that your baby-to-be is developing normally, that your due date is accurate, and — if you’re interested — whether there are pink or blue baby booties in your future.

Ultrasound Basics

Ultrasound is a safe, relatively comfortable procedure that gives physicians more information about your developing baby. An ultrasound technician will apply a topical gel to your abdomen so that the high-frequency sound waves can travel easily through your belly. The technician then moves a transducer, a handheld device that looks something like a grocery store scanner, around your abdomen, sending sound waves as it goes. These waves, once translated through the ultrasound machine, generate a picture. The ultrasound technician will take several measurements of different parts of your unborn baby’s body to make sure her development is on track.

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to arrive for your ultrasound with a full bladder. A full bladder constricts your baby-to-be’s wiggle room, making for easier imaging. But because things are so crowded in there, the ultrasound technician may have to prod your unborn baby into resituating so that all the measurements can be made. With a full bladder and pressure from the transducer on your abdomen, the ultrasound may be slightly unpleasant — but don’t worry, the pictures will be worth it!

The ultrasound usually lasts around 30 minutes. Depending on the office where you receive your ultrasound, you may be able to receive a recording of the session or at least several pictures to show off your baby-to-be. Not all lab offices offer recordings of the ultrasound for moms-to-be so call beforehand to check what the lab offers. You can also ask if you can take home a picture or two.

Your baby’s gender: In most cases, your ultrasound technician will be able to tell you if you’re having a girl or boy. If you don’t want to know, tell the technician before you begin so that you don’t inadvertently see or hear something you shouldn’t. (Try your hand at predicting Baby’s gender with our Gender Predictor!)

For those women who do want to know the baby’s sex, the results are usually accurate. Usually.The accuracy rates for determining your unborn baby’s gender by ultrasound are about 80 to 90 percent. Keep in mind, the ultrasound technician needs to get a clear picture of your unborn baby’s “parts” to be certain. For girls, the technician will be looking for three small lines between her legs indicating the female labia. For little boys, the technician will be looking for a developed penis and scrotum. Be forewarned — some babies do not cooperate for this look at their private parts and wiggle and squirm to the point that the technician may not be able to say with any degree of certainty whether you’re having a boy or a girl.

Is ultrasound necessary? While the 20-week ultrasound is traditional, it’s not necessary. “There’s no advantage to performing an ultrasound if a woman’s pregnancy is otherwise normal and healthy,” explains Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey, PhD, CNM. “While it has become standard practice, there’s no medical evidence that shows that performing standard ultrasounds improves a baby’s outcome.” That said, Dr. Bailey points out that most mothers find the ultrasound to be a comfort, getting a chance to finally see their unborn babies. In other countries, such as Japan, many women receive an ultrasound at every office visit, notes Dr. Bailey. This is also the case for many moms experiencing high-risk pregnancies, were trips to the ultrasound technician may occur once or twice each week.

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Q & A

What’s on your mind about Week 20? Other women have wondered…

Q: Can you prevent or diminish stretch marks?

Seeing these red or purple lines creating a road map on your belly, hips, or breasts can be more than a little disconcerting for most women. There are many factors involved in determining whether or not you end up with stretch marks. Read more about treating stretch marks.

Q: Is a long plane ride dangerous?

Most people are concerned about changes in air pressure when flying during pregnancy. But in today’s pressurized jet cabins, this is not a problem anymore. Read more about travelling while pregnant.


Your Partner

Boy or Girl? That’s the Question!

Do you want to know whether you are having a boy or a girl? This can be a big decision to make, with lots to consider. How does your partner feel? How will you decide?

Many parents opt not to learn their babies’ genders because they want to be surprised at birth. It is hard to argue with the suspense that builds throughout pregnancy; finding out your little one’s gender when you meet for the first time is a once-in-a-lifetime event. What a dramatic moment!

For other moms- and dads-to-be, knowing if a boy or girl is on the way can help the bonding process begin sooner. Because a man doesn’t have a physical connection with his developing baby, finding out may help Dad-to-be develop a more concrete picture of what Baby will be like.

When pondering which path you and your partner will take, consider that this is not only about discovering the sex of your baby; you’ll need to contemplate whether or not knowing might help you bond with Baby and better envision what your new life.