21 weeks pregnant

21 weeks

Dear mom,

Those tacos you had for dinner sure were tasty – that’s right, my taste buds are formed and they can tell what you were eating as of this week. When I’m swallowing that amniotic fluid, I’m also getting a taste of what you’re munching on, and studies have shown I might grow up to like particular foods because of it. So if you want me to be an extra healthy eater, it’s not a bad idea to start early – as in, before I’m out of the womb – and encourage me to eat those carrots and broccoli. All of that hearty ‘eating’ is still helping me grow. I’m now almost a pound and about as long as a carrot. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, don’t be surprised if you start feeling me practice my ninja moves by kicking and squirming around your tummy. In fact, you might even be able to detect some patterns: certain times of day or certain actions might trigger a flurry of kicks and punches.

Now let’s talk about you and the visible changes your body might be going through. As your breasts and belly expand, so does your skin – which may cause red, pink, or purple streaks to appear as the supporting tissue surrounding these growing parts tears. Whether or not you’re sporting some new stripes, you may notice some varicose or spider veins popping up on your legs, ankles, or face. This is a result of the hormone progesterone, which tends to loosen up the walls of your veins (which are also being pushed on thanks to pregnancy-related pressures). You’re more likely to get varicose veins if you’re older or have a family history of them: sleep on your side, wear supportive pantyhose, and exercise daily to help minimize their likelihood. As for spider veins, don’t worry – they often go away once I’ve entered the world and you’re done being pregnant.

My big tip of the week? Now that I can taste (and develop a taste for) the foods you’re eating, it might be time to start taking a closer look at the nutritional benefits of what’s on your plate. Iron is a must-have ingredient to help me grow mighty and strong, and to help your body produce hemoglobin. This red blood cell protein carries oxygen to me, and works hard to keep up with your body’s expanding needs. Red or dark meat can be helpful in building up your iron intake, but if you’re looking for non-meat options try legumes, soy, spinach, or raisins. Multi-vitamins are also a great way to keep your body performing optimally.

Congrats on jumping into the second half of your pregnancy mom. And if you’re fretting about those stretch marks, think of this: “Your body is not ruined, you’re a goddamn tiger who earned her stripes.” – Unknown