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21 Weeks Pregnant

21 Weeks Pregnant: Stretch Marks May Start to Appear

Pregnancy & Postpartum

Right now, your baby is roughly 8.5 to 10.5 inches from head to heel, about the length of a hairbrush, and weighs around 12 ounces. Moreover, he's shifting this weight around with greater ease than ever before, and you may well feel it in the form of kicks and karate chops to your belly.

Tip of the week:
There's not a whole lot you can do about melasma in terms of prevention, but there are many ways in which you can cover it up. Use a concealer or foundation that closely matches your natural skin color and top it off with a light dusting of powder. Once you're done, look at your face in natural light to be sure it appears even and natural.

Additionally, your little one now has fully formed eyelids and eyebrows, so he's looking more and more like himself each day. (If he happens to be a "she," your baby now has 6 million to 7 million eggs in her ovaries, and her vagina is beginning to form as well.)

The changes going on inside of you are less noticeable than the ones you may be seeing in the mirror right about now—namely, stretch marks, varicose veins, acne or dark patches on your skin.

To reduce the appearance of stretch marks, try to avoid rapid or excessive weight gain. If this seems to be a problem for you, speak to your health care provider about your diet and exercise regimen, as well as any metabolic conditions you may have. Also, moisturizing your stomach, hips and thighs daily can help the skin retain elasticity, potentially preventing stretch marks—but the biggest factor is rapid weight gain. Genetics play a role, too, so if your mom or sisters had stretch marks, you may be more likely to get them.

Varicose veins may also be kept at bay with exercise and by maintaining a healthy body weight. Additionally, be sure to put your feet up when relaxing (tough job, we know) and avoid sitting with crossed legs for long periods.

Excess zits may be the result of increased oil production in the skin, which has a tendency to clog pores. If you're noticing extra shine and spots, simply wash your face with warm water and a mild soap. Irritating the epidermis with harsh cleansers may only worsen the problem by stripping the skin.

Melasma, also sometimes called the "mask of pregnancy," occurs when hormonal changes manifest themselves in excess pigment production, resulting in dark patches on your face or other often sun-exposed parts of the skin. This occurs to some degree in most women but is more prevalent in women with darker complexions.

The good news is that both pregnancy acne and melasma usually go away within a few months after delivery.

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