Pregnancy 101: Weeks 21 to 24

February 13, 2020 Emma Waterhouse

Perfect Prep

Hooray! You’ve passed the halfway point in your pregnancy, which feels like a significant milestone for most expectant moms (let’s face it: those first few months can draaaggg). But you might well find that the laws of physics go out of the window from this point on: the weeks and months fly by, while your list of things to do just seems to grow longer and longer…

Now is a great time to throw yourself into preparations for your little one’s birth and beyond: from booking classes, to painting the nursery, to getting your home baby-ready. Fast-forward ten weeks, and you’ll be glad you gave yourself a headstart!

Need To Know

At 24 weeks, very premature babies have a much better chance of survival outside the womb than babies born sooner: around 50-60%. Every passing day and week after that increases their chances still further, so it’s a reassuring milestone to reach.

Your baby-to-be will finally hit 1 pound in weight and 1 foot in length at around 23-24 weeks, and will start piling on the pounds more rapidly from this point on.

Now that your bump is growing bigger and heavier and your pregnant body is retaining more fluid, it’s not uncommon to notice some swelling, especially in your hands, feet and ankles. Try to keep the affected body parts elevated as much as possible, and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to combat it.

A degree of swelling during pregnancy is normally nothing to worry about, but if it comes on especially suddenly or severely, or if you notice that your eyes or face are looking puffy, you should call your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. Other warning signs to look out for include high blood pressure, protein in your urine (these will be tested for at each routine prenatal checkup), severe headaches and/or blurred vision, and very rapid weight gain, which may be a sign of excessive fluid retention caused by the condition.

You might have been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions for several weeks already, especially if this isn’t your first baby. Alternatively, you may not notice these mild “practice contractions” at all until the final few weeks of your pregnancy. Don’t be alarmed if you feel your stomach suddenly tighten and harden for up to a minute or two: unless you’re having frequent, regular contractions, chances are that it’s just your body gearing up for the big day.

Good To Have

One of our members’ most recommended new baby items is a sling or baby carrier — dubbed a “sanity saver” by one Berry! Babywearing can be especially useful if you have older children to deal with too, or if you have a colicky baby who might be soothed by the womb-like environment of a sling. It’s worth doing your research and trialing a few different styles if you can: look out for a sling library near you, or chat to babywearing moms out and about to get a feel for what might work best for you.

Another essential piece of baby kit worth looking into as early as possible: the carseat. Whether you go for an infant-only seat or a convertible one which can be used for several years, you’ll need to make sure that it fits properly in your car and that you know how to install it correctly. Seats which are LATCH-compatible are a great option because they can simply be clicked into place without the need for fiddly seatbelt attachments.

Time To Do

Now is the ideal time to get started on one of the most fun baby-prep projects: the nursery! Try browsing Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, plus plenty of handy hacks to help you make the most of your space. If you’ve already chosen your baby’s name, you could even incorporate it into the decor somehow: an animal theme for Noah, perhaps, or musical notes for Aria. Have fun with it!

The rest of your house might need a little bit of attention, too: it may seem like early days to start babyproofing your home, but far easier to do it now than when you’ve got your hands full looking after an accident-prone infant! Stair-gates, cupboard locks, electrical socket covers and furniture tethers are all cheap pieces of kit which could help to prevent catastrophe down the line.

As well as readying your home, have you thought about how you’ll prepare yourselves for labor, birth and life with a newborn? From birth classes to pregnancy pilates, doulas to diaper services, you may need to book things several months in advance — so time to start looking!

Dealing With Baby Name Discord

Now that you’re heading into the second half of your pregnancy, it can feel like the clock is really ticking on the big baby name decision. And if you and your partner still just can’t seem to agree on… well, anything? Multiply that pressure x1000.

A common complaint we see on the Nameberry Forums is that mom and dad seem to have completely incompatible naming styles or approaches: she likes Arthur and Henry, he wants Jaxx or Maverick; she’s dead set on naming a daughter after her grandmother, he’s just not on-board with a little Edna, no matter how meaningful the choice.

If you’re in this situation, it can be incredibly frustrating — not to mention stressful. But it’s important to keep in mind that all of these babies do end up with names, eventually. Great names, even. And yours will too.

Why not head over to our dedicated forums for Girl Baby Names and Boy Baby Names for advice and suggestions from fellow moms and name-lovers, or check out our blog post on How Not To Fight About Baby Names for six top tips from the experts on ending the baby name battle.

Go to Weeks 25 to 28.

Return to Pregnancy 101 home page.

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at

View all of Emma Waterhouse's articles


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