21 weeks 


Highlights this week

Baby kicks

Soon, other people may be able to feel your baby move by putting a hand on your belly. Your baby's initial fluttering movements will turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges.

Hiring a doula

A doula is a trained labor and birth assistant who can support you during your baby's birth. If you're looking for a doula, start interviewing candidates soon.

Swimming during pregnancy

Swimming is one of the best exercises for expecting moms. It's low-impact and gentle on your body, and can help ease pregnancy aches and pains. As your belly gets bigger, it's extra nice to float, weightless, in the water.

Baby development at 21 weeks

Your baby's taste buds

Your baby has working taste buds and can taste what you eat when they swallow your amniotic fluid.

Sucking reflex

Your baby's sucking reflex is starting to develop, and your baby can suck their thumb. (You may have seen this on an ultrasound!)

Your baby's skin

Smooth, gorgeous skin is in your baby's future – but for now, their skin is wrinkled and translucent. It appears red because of visible blood vessels.

baby with newly formed eyebrows and permanent fingerprints
Your baby at 21 weeks
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Your baby is about the size of a carrot

carrot illustration
head to toe
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Pregnancy symptoms during week 21

Varicose veins

You're more prone to varicose veins now. As your pregnancy progresses, the weight of your uterus puts increasing pressure on the veins in your legs. Higher progesterone levels, which may cause the walls of your veins to relax, can make the problem worse. Minimize varicose veins by exercising daily, gaining your recommended amount of pregnancy weight, elevating your feet to heart level or higher, avoiding crossing your legs or ankles while sitting, and not standing or sitting for long periods of time without moving. Wearing compression socks can also help by increasing the blood flow from your legs.

Bleeding gums

About half of expecting moms get pregnancy gingivitis – inflamed gums that bleed when brushed or flossed. It's not likely to harm your baby or otherwise affect your pregnancy unless you have severe gum disease, which has been linked to some complications. Make sure to practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily and flossing daily. It's safe to go to the dentist during pregnancy – in fact, it's especially important to have regular dental checkups, cleanings, and any necessary treatments.


Starting to feel a bit off balance or clumsy? As your belly grows, your center of gravity changes, so you may begin to occasionally feel a little unsteady on your feet. Try to avoid situations with a high risk of falling; trauma to your abdomen could be dangerous for you and your baby. Slow down, avoid risky tasks (like climbing a ladder to change a lightbulb), wear low-heeled shoes, and walk extra carefully on uneven, wet, or icy surfaces.

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks are "practice" uterine contractions that are mostly infrequent, irregular, and painless. They start early in pregnancy, but you probably won't start feeling them until around 21 weeks. (Some women never notice them, and that's okay, too.). It's most common to have Braxton Hicks contractions at the end of the day, when you're dehydrated or have a full bladder, or during or after physical activities including sex. Braxton Hicks are harmless, but they can be difficult to distinguish from preterm labor. If you're having regular contractions, or any signs of preterm labor, call your doctor or midwife right away.


Heartburn is a burning sensation that often extends from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat. It's common during pregnancy because of hormonal and physical changes. Many women experience heartburn for the first time while pregnant, and although it's generally harmless, it can be quite uncomfortable. To get relief, check out these ways to prevent and minimize heartburn during pregnancy.

Weight gain

At this point in pregnancy, you may be gaining about a pound a week. To learn what a healthy weight gain is for you during pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife and use our Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator. Keep in mind that guidelines aren't set in stone. Your target weight gain will be different depending on your health needs. And if you're overweight, obese, or underweight, it's especially important to have a customized approach to your pregnancy weight gain.

Don't see your symptom?

Wondering about a symptom you have? Find it on our pregnancy symptoms page.

prangry = pregnant + angry + hungry
baby in body with uterus pushing against intestines
Your body at 21 weeks
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Pregnancy checklist at 21 weeks pregnant

Check your rings

It's common to have some pregnancy-related swelling in your fingers as the weeks go on. If your rings are feeling snug, do yourself a favor and take them off now before they get stuck. You may want to wear them on a chain close to your heart. (Note: If you have more than moderate swelling in your hands, call your provider.)

Avoid unsafe activities

As your belly grows, it's important to avoid unsafe activities that have a high risk of falling or other dangers. That includes scuba diving, contact sports, snowboarding, downhill skiing, hot yoga, horseback riding, hot tubbing, four wheelers, water slides, and some amusement park rides.

Review your finances

Adding a new member to the family changes everything, including your finances. Taking the time to rearrange your budget to make room for your baby can lower your stress levels and help you feel more secure. Though it's probably not the most enticing thing on your to-do list, it's smart to consider the big financial questions regarding insurance, taxes, wills, and childcare sooner rather than later.

Create your baby registry

If you haven't created a baby registry yet, now is a good time. You're going to need a lot of baby products for your little one, so it's wonderful when friends and family chip in. Not sure where to start? Our Baby Registry Builder makes it easy to choose the best registries for your needs and decide what to put on them.

Soothe your stress

Everyone has some stress in their lives, but when it's constant or overwhelming, it can cause problems. Some studies have linked chronic stress during pregnancy to premature birth, preeclampsia, and low birthweight. To relieve stress, try exercising, looking to friends and family for support, and practicing mindfulness techniques. If your stress becomes overwhelming, talk to your provider and consider seeking help from a therapist.

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21 weeks pregnant bellies

This may be a golden time in pregnancy, when your belly is big enough to look pregnant and adorable but not big enough to make you super uncomfortable. If you want to flaunt your new curves, wear form-fitting clothes or cinch a belt just above your bump.

Thankfully, moms-to-be have a lot more style options these days. After churning out shapeless tent dresses for decades, retailers have heard the call for beautiful and stylish maternity clothes. Check out the best plus-size maternity clothing retailers and favorite maternity clothing brands as identified by BabyCenter moms and editors.

21 weeks pregnant bellies

This week's video



BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Fetal Development: Stages of Growth. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2021. Fetal development: The 2nd trimester. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

MedlinePlus (ADAM). 2019. Fetal development. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Hadlock FP et al. 1991. In utero analysis of fetal growth: A sonographic weight standard. Radiology 181 (1). a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Hadlock FP et al. 1992. Fetal cross-rump length: Reevaluation of relation to menstrual age (5-18 weeks) with high-resolution real-time US. Radiology 182: 5-1-505. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Vintzileos AM et al. 1984. The ultrasound femur length as a predictor of fetal length. Obstetrics & Gynecology 64(6): 779-82. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Hadlock FP 1984. Estimating fetal age: Computer-assisted analysis of multiple fetal growth parameters. Radiology 152: 497-501. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Marcella Gates

Marcella Gates is Director of Content Operations at BabyCenter, the world's number one digital parenting resource, and is an expert on pregnancy and parenting. As a mom of three, she loves that her professional life is focused on supporting and empowering parents and expecting parents. Gates lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

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