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Week 20

Jun03

by

week by week pregnancy
Your Baby:

  • Is as big as (depending on which measurements from which pregnancy book you use and of course, Your Produce May Vary) a butternut squash, or as long as a banana, or possibly a carrot. I am getting the sense these comparisons are not really an exact science.
  • Will be measured head-to-toe from this point on, instead of the head-to-rump measurements we’ve used so far. I remember choking on a bagel at 21 weeks last time because HOLY CRAP, MY CHILD JUST GREW FIVE INCHES IN A WEEK.
  • Has a heartbeat that can be heard with just a regular old stethoscope now and not just the fancy doppler.
  • Is swallowing and practicing other digestive skills, and can now produce meconium, which is essentially prenatal poop that sits in the bowels during pregnancy. You’ll see this awesome goopy stuff in person during your baby’s very first diaper change, or possibly even during labor like I did, as some babies like to take their first crap in the womb. Meconium in the fluid in considered a delivery complication, but it’s very common and not terribly dangerous — your doctor will just need to suction your baby’s nose and mouth immediately after delivery to prevent any meconium going into your baby’s lungs with their first breath.

You:

  • Are HALFWAY THERE HALFWAY THERE HALFWAY THERE!
  • Seriously. You are halfway through this pregnancy, which may bring to mind such deep thoughts like: “Yay!” or “Uh-oh” or “Whoa” or “Must. Organize. Kitchen. Cabinets.”

Let’s talk skin today. Oh, but your poor skin takes such a beating during pregnancy, from itching to rashes to stretch marks to breakouts to other just plain weird stuff.

First up, stretch marks. Don’t kid yourself. There’s nothing you can do to prevent stretch marks. You will either get stretch marks…or you won’t, and no amount of cocoa butter is going to change that. According to Wikipedia, one lone study claimed that a daily application of one lone type of cream was “associated with fewer stretch marks during pregnancy.” Fewer. Which is good, but again, there’s no surefire method of absolute prevention. About 75 to 90% of women will get at least some marks during pregnancy, usually in the third trimester. I’ve heard that there seems to be some genetic connection, so if you’re wondering if you’ll be one of the lucky unmarked few, ask your mom if she got them. My mom had three mark-free pregnancies in her very early 20s and then got them when she was pregnant with me at 35. I figured I had a decent shot at avoiding them, but I broke out in the thin, white silvery kind all around my belly button right at 38 weeks. This time I don’t seem to be getting too many new marks yet, but my existing ones are much darker and more prominent. Eh. I freaked OUT last time at the sight of them, but now I know they really do fade with time and are barely noticeable to anyone other than me. They’re your battle scars, and you might as well get ready to wear them proudly.

Next up, the “mask of pregnancy” or chloasma, which usually crops up sometime during the second trimester. This involves brownish or yellowish patches of skin — it can show up anywhere, but is most commonly noticed on the upper cheeks and t-zone. Pregnancy hormones, for whatever reason, can stimulate extra melanin production in your skin and create a not-super-great blotchy look to your face. (Oral contraceptives can cause the same thing, incidentally.) While a lot of people seem to assume blondes and lighter-complexioned women are more prone to chloasma, it’s actually more common for brunettes and darker-skinned women. Like stretch marks, there’s nothing you can do to 100% for-sure prevent it from happening, although limiting your exposure to UVA and UVB light and wearing a broad spectrum sunblock on your face can really help.

And then there’s the linea nigra, that weird dark line that runs either up or down or right on through your belly button. Apparently we’ve all got that line already — it’s called the linea alba and is usually the color of your skin or even a little lighter. But since a LOT of skin-related stuff tends to get darker during pregnancy (like moles, freckles, areolas, genitals), this line appears more visible from about the second trimester on. And the darker your complexion, the darker the line. Usually. (Mine was barely noticeable last time and is completely invisible so far, but my fair-skinned sister had a pretty prominent one.) The line will eventually lighten a few months after you deliver, while other dark spots like moles and areolas and such, are probably going to be like that for good.

Zits! Pimples! Breakouts! Acne! Some women get them on their face, some on their body, others get bona-fide eruptions unlike anything you’ve seen this side of junior high. It’s a downside of the “pregnancy glow,” which is really just increased blood flow to your cheeks and extra secretions by your oil glands. Bleh! I know! Go with a very gentle face cleanser or oatmeal scrub and wash the afflicted areas at least twice a day. Make sure all your makeup is oil-free, but stay away from harsh astringents or cheap oil-fighting products. They’ll just make your glands overcompensate and produce more oil. The good news is that this is NOT a sign that you’ll be stuck in permanent pizza-face mode forever — most pregnancy acne is just that, and your skin WILL return to normal soon after birth.

And let’s not forget all the other weird, weird things that your skin might do during pregnancy. There’s heat rash, chafing and all-over itching from where your skin stretches. There’s plaques of pregnancy or PUPP, which is a raised and red pimply eruption of itchy skin on the abdomen or thighs or buttocks. It’s alarming looking but harmless, and will go away after delivery. Keep it moisturized and apply an anti-itch cream if it drives you crazy. There’s skin tags. Red palms. Tiny red raised freckles on your torso and extremities. Spider veins. Burst blood vessels on your face (and eyeballs!). And probably dozens of other strange lesions and bumps and marks that nobody ever talks about.

A visit to the dermatologist can really put your mind at ease if you notice anything really unusual — while mole growth and new moles are very normal, pregnancy is NOT immunity against skin cancer, so don’t hesitate to call and get checked out. Your doctor will probably shrug and tell you that will probably go away after delivery and in the meantime just , but it’s better to be safe than sorry, of course.

Oh Yeah, THIS: The STATE I manage to work myself into while trying to determine if I am, in fact, experiencing “decreased fetal movement” or if the kid is just taking a nap.

New This Time Around: While we’re on the subject of skin changes, let me tell you about my backne. And chestne. Shoulderne. Neckne. Yuck yuck yuck. So far no brand of body wash or bar soap seems to have any effect on it.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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16 Responses to “Week 20”

  1. Amy also Jun 04 at 11:48 am Reply Reply

    Chloasma / melasma sucks! After three babies, my dermatologist tells me I may be prone to this forever. Always wear sunscreen!!!

  2. Sarah Jun 04 at 12:49 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve always struggled with bad acne, but man, did pregnancy ever set it off! It’s somewhat reassuring that I’m not the only one dealing with it.
    I’m enjoying this website tremendously – I’m a week behind your pregnancy, so it’s fun to sneak a peek ahead at next week’s fun!

  3. eva Jun 04 at 3:01 pm Reply Reply

    In the skin-related pregnancy-features category I also experienced:
    1) a HUGE ingrown hair. Down there. I thought I was growing a big new disgusting warty thing and was ready to accuse my husband of infidelity, but the midwife assured me that these are common in pregnancy.
    2) Big new moles and existing moles in NEW! Larger Sizes! Big enough that just last week (5.5 months post partum) I had to go into day surgery at the local hospital to get the OB-GYN to remove one. From – you guessed it – DOWN THERE.

  4. Shaunna Jun 04 at 7:25 pm Reply Reply

    Did I miss it? Or did the winner of the Ann Taylor Loft gift card go unannounced? Yes, I have everything crossed that can be crossed that it will be meeeeeee!!!!!

  5. Aimee Jun 05 at 9:26 am Reply Reply

    Oh, so much to look forward to when (if) I get pregnant. Now, if I already have acne, backne, chestne, shoulderne, and neckne, then what happens when I do get pregnant? Acne on my legs, butt, belly? Leprosy-like spots over my entire body? Man oh man, what awesome things to look forward to…!
    P.S. Yeah, what happened with the Ann Taylor gift card sweepstakes?

  6. Keyruh Jun 05 at 5:49 pm Reply Reply

    Wait…what is this bit about dark genitals?! I’m scared!

  7. Amalah Jun 06 at 10:57 am Reply Reply

    We contacted our gift card winner and are waiting to hear back with address details and such — entrants, check your spam folders! If we don’t hear back from her, we’ll be selecting someone else soon.

  8. psumommy Jun 06 at 9:25 pm Reply Reply

    Aimee- if it makes you feel better, *some* women have the best skin of their lives while pregnant. I did with my first 3, but this time around I’m getting the weirdest zits. Granted, I pretty much blame any new thing with my body on pregnancy. Even when I’m no longer pregnant. :)

  9. Wallydraigle Jun 07 at 11:52 am Reply Reply

    Aimee–My skin, too got really bad during the first two/three months of pregnancy. The skin on my face has always been problematic, but this was just awful. Then one day I woke up, and it was beautiful. Better than it’s been since 7th grade. So it’s entirely possible that your skin could clear up, too.
    My only problem now is that I’m getting weird zits on my back and shoulders (where I didn’t get them before), and my skin is very scaly and itchy right around my mid-back. Like a freaking lizard. I’m wondering if it has something to do with wearing a bra. I know it’s not lack of water, since I drink a ton every single day. And slathering myself in lotion (I use Cetaphil) doesn’t help.

  10. erin Jun 10 at 5:56 pm Reply Reply

    Non-prego girl, don’t panic. I freaked out the week BabyCenter.com told me I’d get the ‘roids, and nothing ever happened, and my mom had even had them!
    You can’t predict what your body will do, so the best defense is a good offense…take GOOD vitamins from the start, exercise and stay in good shape and your body will hold up well.

  11. Marijke Jun 18 at 6:39 am Reply Reply

    What a great blog! Wow, does it ever bring back memories. When it comes to skin though, I was one of the lucky ones – with all three.
    I’m going to have to set aside some time to sit down and give the rest of your posts a good read.
    Marijke
    http://www.wombwithin.com

  12. Jennie Sep 10 at 8:18 pm Reply Reply

    Finally, a yucky symptom I DON’T have during pregnancy … bad skin. I don’t know why I’ve been spared, except that I’ve had every other bad thing in spades. I was too lazy to put on make-up today before work, and I glanced in the rearview mirror to check out my face and – holy of holies – it looked great! It looked like I was all fresh and had a bit of make-up on. Weird. Perhaps it is a tiny karmic payback for all those weeks of never-ending nausea …

  13. kendall Nov 21 at 7:10 pm Reply Reply

    On the plus side, my usually thin, limp hair is now full & glossy.
    Love it.

  14. Linda Apr 13 at 11:16 pm Reply Reply

    I also have problematic skin. But when I was pregnant with my 1st, I had the best skin. And now being pregnant with my 2nd, I have the best skin. Well as far as no zits, etc. I have noticed more skin tags which completely grosses me out. I didn’t get those with my 1st pregnancy.
    I am glad to see that rashes are common during pregnancy. My doctor recommended that I take fish oil this time around, and so I started taking at 5 weeks. About 2 weeks later I started breaking out in a HORRIBLE rash on my arms. Then it moved to my legs. So I stopped the fish oil. It went away about 3 or 4 weeks later, but now I notice another small patch of the bumps coming back on my arm again. I told my husband that I would make a call to the dermatologist this time if it got as bad as last time, but now I probably won’t. Now that I have read that it is normal. But it sucks. I didn’t get this with my 1st.

  15. Della Apr 17 at 3:36 pm Reply Reply

    Sigh…. Gorgeous glow the first time. ACNE CITY the second time.
    Also, what do you call acne of the inguinal groove? (ie, on the between-the-legs panty line area). I swear, I shower daily, and yet (in this second pregnancy) I still have this insane acne down there, not whiteheads but the kind of underskin ones that never exactly come to a head, but just feel like a pressure marble under your skin. Great with panty lines rubbing on them. Just AWESOME with the entire weight of your body resting on them.
    And the worst part? I am generally a zit-picker. I have scabs all over my face and the dermatologists can just tsk tsk all they want. But with the second-pregnancy belly in the way of both my eyes AND my arms? Those inguinal zits, they are there to stay, because I CAN’T EVEN REACH THEM. Oh, the pain and pressure!

  16. Sarah Aug 31 at 9:27 am Reply Reply

    Your “Oh yeah, this” struck me. I’ve only been really feeling the baby for about a week, just little kicks here and there. Had an awesome kick fest on Saturday, hubby even got to feel the baby, and since then, not much, just a kick here and there. It’s freaking me out! Come back, kick fests!

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