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Pregnancy At Week 21

Pregnancy At Week 21

By week 21, the flutter kicks that you felt in the previous weeks are growing stronger and healthier. During this stage of your pregnancy, you will begin to get to know your baby better. You will also begin preparing to bring your little one into the world.

Here are some of the things you can expect during week 21 of your pregnancy:

Your Baby

By now, your little one is not so little anymore. Most babies will be around 10 and a half inches long – long enough to resemble a banana or a carrot! Your baby will also have gained a lot of weight recently and now weighs three-quarters of a pound.

At this age, some babies will weigh more or less than this. As long as the doctor can see that the baby is gaining weight, everything is fine.

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Because of your baby’s growth, those sweet little flutters that you felt earlier in your pregnancy will have transformed into nudges and kicks. If you pay close attention, you may notice that your baby’s gymnastics have a pattern. Your baby’s activity may be triggered by certain things. The more you know about your child’s activity, the better you will get to know them.

In terms of physiology, your darling one will now have developed both eyelids and sweet little eyebrows. But more than this your baby’s nerves will really begin to develop. At this point, they will be able to begin to experience the world around them by seeing, listening, smelling tasting and touching.

Speaking of tasting, your baby will now begin to swallow the amniotic fluid. The baby may even be able to taste what you are eating as the nutrients from your diet enter the amniotic fluid. Don’t worry too much about the chicken wings, pickles or ice cream you may be craving, your baby still gets nourishment from your placenta, but be wary of diet pills and supplements.

Your baby’s bowels will also start working around this week! Around week 21, babies begin to produce meconium.

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That might sound scary but it is actually a combination of amniotic fluid and digestive secretion that you will notice after birth because it will form their first bowel movement! The makings of your baby’s first diaper change actually develop while they are still inside the womb.

Your Body

As your baby grows, your belly will need to grow with them. You may experience discomfort as your womb begins to stretch to accommodate your little one. The ligaments on both sides of your womb will start to stretch so that your baby has room to move and grow. If you feel sore, this is completely normal. But if you feel abnormally sore, do not be afraid to call your doctor or your midwife.

At this stage, you’re probably still pretty comfortable with your size and your symptoms. So relax and enjoy this stage before the third trimester arrives.

Common Symptoms

You might notice that any acne you have may get worse. This is because your body is producing some extra oil.

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You might also notice that you are developing some varicose veins. This is because there is extra pressure on the veins of your legs. You are more likely to develop these if your mother or your grandmother have them.

Finally, you might notice that your libido is playing up around this time in your pregnancy. There is no normal level of sexual activity when you are pregnant. Some women notice that their desire skyrockets while others notice that it hits the floor. Do not worry about it too much. Just be open and honest with your partner about how you feel.

Tips

If you are suffering from acne, you can help combat this by washing your face with a gentle, oil free cleanser. But do not take any oral medications or topical products without first talking to your doctor. Some oral acne medications can be damaging during pregnancy.

To help deal with varicose veins, prop up your legs to take the pressure off. You might also consider wearing some support hose. If your doctor says it is okay to exercise, physical activity can help minimize them as well.

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Things to Do

During this week, you will be getting ready to welcome your little one into the world. This is a good week to create a baby registry for a baby shower or just for gifts in general.

This is also a good week to begin seriously thinking about breastfeeding. Do plenty of research and speak to your doctor to make sure that you can make a decision that is based on what is right for you and your baby.

Week 21 is an exciting week as you get to know your baby and prepare to bring them into the world. Remember to relax and take everything in this week, the third trimester will be here before you know it!

Featured photo credit: Bonbon via flickr.com

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Published on May 21, 2021

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

  • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
  • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
  • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
  • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
  • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

  • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Difficulty waking up on time
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Inattention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Impulse control

As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

For Babies

Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

Gentle Sleep Training

This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

2. Sleep With Parental Presence

With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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  • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
  • Block blue light exposure.
  • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
  • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
  • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
  • Avoid late afternoon naps
  • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
  • Feed baby right before bed.
  • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

For Elementary-Aged Children

It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

  • Offer them a nutritious snack.
  • Bathe them.
  • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
  • Read them a story.
  • Sing them a song.
  • Cuddle or massage them.
  • Talk about the day.

For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

For Teens

They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Avoid late-night binging.
  • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Talk through problems.

Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
[2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
[3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
[4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
[5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
[6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
[7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
[8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
[9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
[10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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