Week 21Breathing, swallowing and sucking practice

Your baby’s heart is now beating at a rate of around 150 beats per minute. It is practising breathing, swallowing and its sucking reflex. Soon it will open its eyelids. It’s still lying in an upright position. Over the coming weeks your baby will rotate more and more, until it assumes the birthing position.

You might feel the lower part of your belly contract from time to time. These painless contractions are practice contractions (also known as pre-labour contractions, Braxton Hicks contractions or prodromal labour), which prepare the womb for labour. You may experience them more frequently from now on.

Your back has to support the entire weight of your stomach, which is becoming increasingly heavy. By paying special attention to your posture, you can effectively reduce the strain on your back. In particular, you should try to keep your lower back straight.

21st week of pregnancy

The foetus in week 21. It is still lying in an upright position and can move around freely.