Your baby this week
21 weeks pregnant

In the know

The baby's legs have grown to the point where they are now more proportionate to the body. He is about 10 inches long -- about half as long as he will be at birth.

fetal development

 Track your pregnancy week by week!

pregnancy balance ballPregnancy pain in the back

Back problems are the most commonly reported discomforts of pregnancy. The reasons for this are many: During pregnancy, your ever-expanding body releases hormones that cause the joints and ligaments of your pelvis to loosen in preparation for childbirth. Then your growing bump changes your center of balance, resulting in an increased lumbar lordosis, or arch, in your back. This also means that the muscles that support your back have a much larger load to carry, and fatigue more quickly.

Avoiding excessive weight gain and staying physically fit during pregnancy can help. If you experience back discomfort during pregnancy, discuss this with your health care provider. After an evaluation, she or he may recommend a "belly bra" or an abdominal support garment or hosiery, exercises (especially the pelvic rock) and/or a pregnancy massage. Read more about pregnancy back pain (and how to resolve it) right here!

Break out!

Pregnant woman

Many different skin conditions are treatable -- but if you're pregnant, you should probably avoid many of the medicinal treatments in order to minimize any possible chance of birth defects. "Pregnancy changes hormones, and hormones have a huge effect on skin. Sometimes that can be beneficial for acne, and sometimes it can result in a flare," says Barbara R Reed, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Talk about a bad break...

Even women who've never had a pimple before can suddenly suffer raging acne when they get pregnant!

For the estimated 40 to 50 percent of adult women who still deal with occasional breakouts, chances are your skin problems will continue through your pregnancy -- with the added catch that a lot of the pills and creams you've used to zap your zits in the past are now strictly off-limits. Find out more about what to watch out for, and what to expect, in this article, and find more features about self-care during pregnancy here!

Just for fun

Have you yet discovered the humorous aspects of pregnancy -- the stuff that might make you cringe, or even cry, if they didn't make you laugh? Mom and writer Lain Chroust Ehmann takes a look at the lighter side of pregnancy and new parenthood.

Most of my embarrassing moments centered around work. There was the time when, three months pregnant and deep in the throes of "morning" sickness, I ran out of a one-on-one conference with the president of the company and only just made it to the ladies' room. I was too mortified to go back and face the man -- a starched-collar, very proper British gentleman. Instead a co-worker had to explain to him why I had disappeared so quickly!

I think the most appalling incident was a few months after my son's birth when I brought him into the office to show him off. He behaved like a little gentleman, until my boss, a well-dressed childless woman, was holding him. At that moment, Benjamin had what my husband and I call "the thunder down under."

Diaper blowout doesn't even begin to describe the mess that, of course, ended up all over my boss' white sweater. It's no wonder I decided to become an independent contractor shortly after that!

Read the rest of her article

Drink that milk

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal gives expectant mothers yet another reason to drink their milk. Researchers found that women who rarely drank milk during their pregnancy gave birth to smaller babies compared to women who drank more milk. Low birth weight affects one out of every 13 babies born each year in the United States, and it's a factor in 65 percent of infant deaths, according to the March of Dimes.

woman drinking milk

This study suggests that drinking the recommended amount of milk each day -- three 8-ounce glasses -- may help increase birth weight. The Canadian researchers followed 279 women throughout their pregnancy. They found that women who limited their intake of milk to one cup or less per day consumed significantly less protein and vitamin D, and they gave birth to babies that weighed less compared to women who drank more milk. Find out more about the importance of milk here!

Photo galleries