Pregnant woman holds an ultrasound image in her hand and has her other hand on her bump

Pregnancy Weeks

Pregnancy Week 20

Babies on film!

It's half-time! Or at least as good as since it can sometimes take until the 42nd week of pregnancy before baby arrives. But now there might be something different on the agenda. A major ultrasound scan is often carried out around the 20th pregnancy week. Hopefully, you will see your baby in more detail than ever before! Read on to discover what you can learn from the scan and more. 

What's going on inside you at 20 weeks pregnant?

The size of the foetus is around 14 cm (crown-rump length = CRL) and it weighs 240-300 grams. The feet are roughly 3 cm long.

There's an awful lot going on in the brain. It is growing, and more and more nerve cells are forming – around 200,000 brain cells are created every minute! For the brain to be able to grow at this rate, the cranial bones do not fuse together until later and now have gaps between them. This also helps the child during the birth as it makes a passage through the birth canal easier. There are two open points on your baby’s head (known as the fontanelles), the posterior fontanelle closed around 6-8 weeks and the anterior fontanelle by 2 years of age.

Your baby is now roughly as long as a banana – and as heavy as two!

Your baby is now roughly as long as a banana – and as heavy as two!

The sense of taste is becoming more discerning – your baby can actually taste what you are eating from the amniotic fluid. This is one reason why a varied diet during pregnancy is so important.

If a major ultrasound scan is carried out now, it is possible to accurately document the development of your baby. The size of the head and rib cage, the thigh length and much more can be visualised and measured. Screening of the organs can also take place, although this is generally voluntary.

At your ultrasound the doctor will generally check:

  • The heartbeat and the heart chambers
  • The abdominal cavity with stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys and bladder
  • Whether the intestines are behind the closed abdominal wall
  • Whether the diaphragm is fully developed
  • Head and spine
  • The brain or the ventricles
  • The position of the placenta
  • The amount of amniotic fluid
  • The sex

If malformations such as a heart defect are identified, precautionary measures can be taken, such as transferring care to an obstetrician and involving other professionals.

How Do You Feel at 20 Weeks Pregnant?

The uterus is now roughly the size of a football and continues to expand. Many expectant mothers now feel really well – the morning sickness has finally ended for most. The broad ligaments, pelvis and lower back can make their presence felt, but usually only to a very limited extent.

This means that now is the perfect time to pack your bags and go off for a nice break with just the two of you!

Points to note when travelling while pregnant

  • Avoid destinations that require special vaccinations.
  • If you are travelling by air, ask whether the airline has regulations concerning expectant mothers, and what they are.
  • Mountainous regions or places with extremes of temperature are not really recommended.
  • If you will be travelling for a long time sitting down, schedule as many breaks as possible so you can stretch your legs. Ask your midwife or whether support tights are a good idea for you.
  • Good medical facilities and an easy arrival and departure should be possible at the holiday destination.
  • If you have already experienced complications during your pregnancy (e.g. bleeding), you should first obtain an OK from your midwife or doctor for your travel plans.
  • Are you a worrier? Then don't opt for expensive foreign travel. A weekend break in your own country can be just as good! The important thing is that you can relax.

If you are unsure what you are allowed to do or what you need to remember in your particular case, then as always simply get advice from your doctor and enjoy a worry-free holiday.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Source: Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Prof. Lesley Regan, DK Limited, London, 2019, pp. 174 f.