Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Pregnancy at week 21

5-minute read

Your baby

Most women start to feel their baby moving between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. The first sensations you feel may be a fluttering (like 'butterflies in your tummy'), swishing, rolling or tumbling sensation or a tiny kick. These early sensations are often called 'quickening'.

By now, your baby's arms and legs have grown and are looking more in proportion to the rest of their body. There is also some soft hair growing on your baby's head. Your baby's reproductive organs are still developing but by now, if your baby is female, their uterus is formed and if your baby is male, their testicles are formed.

Your body

Your growing uterus might be putting pressure on your stomach, leading to heartburn or indigestion. This is very common in pregnancy. You can improve how you feel by eating smaller meals, avoiding foods that you know trigger your symptoms, and by raising your head when you lie down.

If your heartburn is very bad and it's not helped by lifestyle changes or medications from the pharmacy, then mention it to your doctor or midwife. It could be the sign of something more serious such as pre-eclampsia.

Other common pregnancy discomforts you might have at this time include bloating and gas, as well as changes to your appetite. Try to eat small, nutritious meals as part of a healthy diet.

Things to remember

The second trimester is a good time to travel since you may not be able to do so later in your pregnancy. If you decide to go away, you will need to take a few precautions.

If you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, there's no reason why you cannot fly up until 28 weeks into the pregnancy. Always check with the airline and your travel insurer before you go. You are more at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when you're pregnant, so it's important to keep walking around the plane and to wear compression stockings on long flights.

If you're driving, it's very important - as well as required by law — to wear a seatbelt in the car. Put the lap part underneath your bump.

Always take care with what you eat and drink while you're pregnant, especially if you're overseas. If in doubt, drink bottled water and make sure you stay well hydrated in hot climates. See a doctor straight away if you get sick.

You can talk to your doctor or midwife about any other recommended tests during your pregnancy.

Resources and support

Speak to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician if you have questions about your pregnancy.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby also has more information on:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

NEXT WEEK...YOUR PREGNANCY AT WEEK 22 — Learn about your pregnancy journey and what is happening to you and your baby.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

Second trimester: pregnancy week by week | Raising Children Network

Pregnant? In our pregnancy week by week guide, you can find out what to expect and follow your baby's development during the second trimester.

Read more on website

Pregnancy at week 20

By week 20, your baby is very active although you might feel breathless now and then and your back and hips may ache.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

18-20 Week Screening Pregnancy Ultrasound - Consumers - InsideRadiology

An 18–20 week pregnancy screening ultrasound is part of the routine care during pregnancy. Screening is carried out at this stage in the pregnancy because the foetus

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Conception and fetal development

Discover the journey of conception and fetal development. Learn about your baby’s development milestones at each month during your pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

How big is your baby?

Are you pregnant and curious about the size of your baby? Comparing your baby’s size to various foods can be a fun way to grasp their size each week.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.