Week 20

 Your baby is between 16 and 20 centimetres in size, about as big as an aubergine. They currently weigh between 250 and 290 grams, about as much as a packet of butter, and being this light allows them to move around and turn around as much as they please. This is important in order for them to learn the full range of movements, develop their sense of balance, and discover and determine their body’s centre of gravity.

You’re halfway there...

Congratulations! You might find you are becoming a bit forgetful these days - just blame your hormones! It's also quite normal to have a harder time getting to sleep, as your bump might make it tough to find a comfortable position. Having several pillows can help – try lying on your side with one pillow under your head and one between your knees to take the stress off your hips.

The second scan

This is sometimes called the ‘anomaly scan’, because the sonographer will be performing a detailed check of your baby to make sure everything's developing as it should. For you, however, it's mostly a wonderful chance to see some detailed pictures of your baby! Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you can't identify what's what on the screen. You might even be able to find out your baby’s sex, if you want to - though this will depend on the position your baby is in and also whether your hospital has a ‘no tell’ policy.

Maternity leave and pay

In order to qualify for statutory maternity leave, you'll need to apply at least 15 weeks before your due date, so you might want to start thinking about it now. Ask your doctor or midwife for the certificate (MAT B1) that certifies you are pregnant - you'll need this for claiming benefits and maternity pay.

For more information about the maternity leave benefits you're entitled to, you can visit Direct Gov or Work Smart.

Tips and tricks

  •  Relax and replenish your skin with a “Cleopatra bath” with milk, sea salt and honey.
  • Treat yourself to regular massages, which will make your connective tissue more supple.
  • Exercise is important, so why not sign up for a pregnancy swimming/gym/yoga class?
  • If you’re overwhelmed by everything that’s happening and the emotions you’re feeling, start writing a diary – it’ll also be a nice way to remember your pregnancy.

What it’s like for the mum-to-be in week 20

You'll begin to feel your baby moving for the first time at some point between week 20 and 24 if this is your first pregnancy. Week 20 is when they begin to move around more, so there’s every chance you’ll feel it as their movements will cause ripples in the amniotic fluid. The first thing you feel may well be “bubbly”, the result of the amniotic fluid moving around.

Whether it feels like a soap bubble bursting on your belly or a butterfly flapping its wings, these gentle “kicks” in your womb are some of the most exciting moments of your pregnancy and will stay with you for ever.

Increased vaginal discharge 

From time-to-time, you’ll notice increased discharge from your vagina. This is your body’s way of “cleaning” the vagina – it’s especially important during pregnancy to keep the birth canal clean and free of bacteria. It does this by producing more fluids which “pick up” any pathogens in your vagina and thus transports them out of your body.

Your baby, meanwhile, is protected by the mucus plug, which is securely lodged at the entrance to your cervix and working hard to protect them from pathogens. There is still a chance that your vagina could suffer a bacterial imbalance and develop symptoms: in particular, pregnancy increases the risk of a fungal infection known as vaginal mycosis. So be very careful when using public toilets and if you go swimming.

Your discharge should always be milky white or white and have a neutral smell. If either the colour or smell changes, it gets lumpy or it feels itchy, visit your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.

Aches and pains

These symptoms are caused by the increased workload for your muscles, tendons and skin, though you may not experience them for very long and they can vary in severity.

Good ways to minimise symptoms are to do regular exercises, lift and carry objects properly (when you have to), adopt a good posture and make sure you get the breaks you need during the day.