Now that you’re 5 months or 20 weeks pregnant, your developing baby is undergoing some remarkable changes. Their inner ear is functioning, meaning they’re now able to hear your voice and react to sounds outside the womb. You can help provide the nutrition your child needs for their developing senses and growing body with certain key foods. It’s an exciting time for both you and your baby!
Common Symptoms When You’re 20 Weeks Pregnant
Before we discuss your developing baby, let’s check up on how you’re doing.
Now that you’re 5 months pregnant, your belly will begin to show in earnest. But if it’s your first pregnancy, you may have only started to show in the last few weeks1.
By the time you’re 20 weeks pregnant, your appetite may have returned or even increased. You’ll also continue to notice body aches, stretch marks, and darker skin pigmentation around your body1.
Don’t be surprised if you start experiencing food cravings during this stage of your pregnancy. These cravings are mostly harmless and vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, but what is important is that you continue to eat healthy and nutritious food.
It is also normal for you to experience swollen feet and ankles during your pregnancy. This swelling is typically caused by your body working extra hard to produce more blood and fluid to support the growing baby, your placenta, as well as other bodily changes that occur during pregnancy.
At the same time, swelling of the feet and ankles can also be caused by your growing baby and uterus putting pressure on your circulatory and lymphatic systems2. Apart from this, pregnancy swelling can also be caused by prolonged standing, hot weather, excessive sodium consumption, low levels of potassium in the body and heavy caffeine intake2. However, it is important to note that a swelling of the feet and ankles can also indicate a number of pregnancy-related health problems, such as preeclampsia, blood clots, a skin infection, or problems affecting the heart or lungs2.
Your Developing Baby at 20 Weeks
Some very exciting developmental milestones are reached around the time you are 20 weeks pregnant, between weeks 19 to 22. Your developing baby is starting to react to sounds from the outside world, as their inner ear, or cochlear, begins to function, and they can now hear you.
You might not think it, but it’s a noisy world for your developing baby, with vibrations from your voice, your heartbeat, or even your stomach rumbling.
How to Use Sound to Bond with Your Developing Baby
No one knows if your developing baby remembers the sounds they hear, but some parents believe singing or playing classical music while you’re pregnant will help soothe your developing baby. So feel free to choose something gentle for the two of you to listen to together.
While you’re soothing your child, take time to relax yourself – even if it’s only for a few moments each day. Your body needs more rest during pregnancy, so sit somewhere comfortable, take some deep, slow breaths, and listen to some peaceful music. Then, just take it easy – you’re doing something that’s good for you, and for your developing baby too!
Good nutrition is one of the keys to sensory development. You can help support your developing baby’s growing brain and body by providing all the nutrition they need for their development when you are 20 weeks pregnant.
Aim to have at least 4 servings each week of food that is high in DHA (an omega-3 fat), such as salmon or sardines. If you don’t eat fish, you can get omega-3 fats from foods like flaxseed, walnuts, dark leafy green vegetables, squash, canola oil, broccoli, cauliflower and papaya3.
When you’re 5 months pregnant, during this stage of rapid fetal growth, it’s recommended that moms should also take prenatal multivitamins and supplements to make sure they are getting enough of those essential nutrients like vitamin D and folic acid4. Prenatal vitamins are available at most pharmacies, but make sure to ask your obstetrician or gynecologist if they can recommend a brand for you.
Your Developing Baby’s Expanding Skill Sets
Hearing isn’t the only ability that your developing baby is working on when you’re 20 weeks pregnant. Your developing baby is also starting to practice their breathing. This is why you may notice they’re having hiccups from time to time. You’ll start to feel your developing baby move, as a “flutter” or a “quickening’’, in your womb. Your child is practicing their breathing technique and what you’re feeling are those tiny hiccups!
Another skill that your baby may learn when you’re 5 months pregnant is the ability to suck their thumb. At the same time, their movements are becoming smoother and more coordinated.
By now your developing baby has grown dramatically, and is between 10 to 12 inches long (25 to 30 centimeters) and weighs more than 1 pound (around half a kilogram). Your child is keen to show off their growth and will start to move in the following weeks of the sixth month of your pregnancy. To find out how your developing baby makes their presence known through movements, read more in Pregnancy Stages: Month 6.
Did you know that your developing baby’s visual development already began in the previous month? You can track how far you and your developing baby have come in Pregnancy Stages: Month 4.
Want to learn more about how your developing baby will develop over your pregnancy – plus, nutritional advice, online support and more? Sign up for Enfamama A+ Club to receive new articles, useful tips and rewards that can help you and your developing baby!
Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)
- 20 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms, Tips, and More, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/20-weeks-pregnant, Accessed 19 November 2020
- Swelling in pregnancy—when it’s normal and when it’s not, https://www.mother.ly/life/swelling-in-pregnancy-when-to-worry , Accessed 19 February 2021
- Eating a vegetarian diet during pregnancy, http://www.babycenter.com/0_diet-for-a-healthy-vegetarian-pregnancy_1313…, Accessed 19 November 2020
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. FAQ001 Nutrition during pregnancy. Downloaded from http://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq001.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20151020T09…, Accessed October 2015