21 weeks pregnant

By the time you are 21 weeks pregnant your milk ducts that have grown in your breasts may begin producing it’s first milk, known as ‘colostrum’. A mother’s milk not only delivers natural immune protection against illness and infection but it also delivers high concentrated nutrients in low volume to aid the small digestive systems of newborns. It contains a mild laxative that encourages the baby’s first bowel movement, known as meconium, thus clearing the system of waste product build-up over the past few months, such as dead red blood cells, skin cells, amniotic fluid, mucus and bile.

Pregnancy 21 Weeks – Your First Milk Is Known As ‘Colostrum Milk’

Colostrom also contains lower amounts of carbohydrates, potassium and lipids than normal milk and is very rich in sodium chloride, vitamin A, proteins and growth factors. These growth factors encourage the development of the baby’s stomach and intestines. When the production of colostrum begins, it may cause leakage to the breasts, if this is the case then you may consider wearing bra pads.

Cordocentesis Test

If it is relevant to you, from the time you are 21 weeks pregnant onwards, you may be offered a ‘cordocentesis test’. A cordocentesis test, otherwise known as ‘percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling’ (PUBS) is another genetic test that can be carried out to determine any chromosomal defects with the baby. It is very similar to ‘amniocentesis’ but instead of sampling the amniotic fluid, it examines the fetal blood instead and is typically reserved only for pregnancies that are determined to be high-risk for genetic defect, or where an amniocentesis proved to be inconclusive, as the test carries a significant risk of complication.

A sample of the fetal blood is taken by inserting a needle into the vein of the umbilical cord using advanced imaging ultrasound to guide the needle through the placenta and uterine wall and into the baby’s umbilical cord. This blood sample is then tested for any chromosomal abnormality, blood disorders, infections or structural problems and results are usually returned within 72 hours. Cordocentesis is not carried out before 17 weeks (at the earliest) as the fetal vein is too fragile.

The risks and benefits of having a cordocentesis will be weighed up very carefully between you and your medical consultant because although there may be advantages to having the test, there are also risks involved, such as blood loss from the puncture site, membrane rupture or infection. The decision to have the test will be entirely yours. The procedure usually lasts around 45 minutes and you may feel slight discomfort similar to that of menstrual cramping.

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(See Pregnancy Week 21 – The Baby’s Development)


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