Pregnancy Calendar Week by Week

21 weeks and 4 days pregnant

21 weeks and 4 days pregnant

When looking down on the baby, the nose can look quite wide because the nasal bridge is not yet fully developed. This gives the characteristic “button nose” shape that many babies keep throughout the pregnancy.

Your baby is producing essential red and white blood cells at a rate that is greater than your own.

Stem cells in your baby’s bone marrow produce red and white blood cells, and platelets – the cells that clump together to form a blood clot. Earlier in pregnancy all of these were produced in the yolk sac, then the liver and spleen. Now every bone inside your baby contains red bone marrow capable of producing blood cells. Red blood cells do not last forever and after about 80 days are removed from the baby’s circulation. This turnover is higher than your own, where a red blood cell will last for 120 days.

Bilirubin is a breakdown product from red blood cells. It’s produced in the liver and removed from your baby’s circulation by the placenta. Because your baby’s liver takes a few days to efficiently process bilirubin, high levels may lead to jaundice at birth. If jaundice does develop after birth then light phototherapy treatment is capable of breaking down bilirubin into a form that can be more easily excreted in your baby’s urine.

As a newborn, your baby will be protected against infection by white blood cells and by antibodies from breast milk, especially the colostrum. Because of this, breastfed babies are at a lower risk of conditions such as asthma, cow’s milk intolerance, and food allergies.

As your antenatal appointments are more regular now, it can be useful to get to grips with the medical jargon used in your pregnancy records:

Your baby’s position in the uterus is usually referred to as the presenting part or lie and there are several terms and abbreviations used to describe this. Occiput is the term used for the back of the baby’s head.

  • LOL – left-occipito-lateral. The baby’s back and occiput are positioned on the left side of the uterus at right angles to your spine.

  • LOA – left-occipito-anterior. The back and occiput are nearer to the front of your uterus on the left.

  • LOP – left-occipito-posterior. The back and occiput are towards your spine on the left side of your uterus.

  • ROL – right-occipito-lateral. The baby’s back and occiput are at right angles to your spine on the right-hand side of your uterus.

  • ROA – right-occipito-anterior. The back and occiput are towards the front of your uterus on the right-hand side.

  • ROP – right occipito-posterior. The back and occiput are towards your spine on the right-hand side.

If you’re unclear about anything written in your pregnancy records, don’t hesitate to ask your midwife to explain.

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