20 weeks pregnant
Girl or boy?
Your baby’s cognitive and muscular functions are developing and so are their genitalia. Iron contributes to their cognitive development and it’s as important as ever that your balanced diet includes the right iron levels to support your baby’s continued progress.
Your baby's development at week 20
Genital development in week 20
You are now halfway through your pregnancy, and by week 20 your baby will have grown to roughly 16cm from head to bottom and will weigh around 300g (10½ oz). Their heartbeat is now strong and can be detected easily.
Baby girls will be developing a uterus, and their ovaries will contain primitive eggs, and the testes of baby boys will now be descending. If you’re about to have your 20-week anomaly scan, your sonographer may be able to work out the sex of your baby.
Although the increase in your baby’s nerve cells is beginning to slow down, more complex connections are starting to form. In fact, your baby’s nervous and muscular systems have now developed enough to allow your baby to enjoy a satisfying stretch.
Iron is a key nutrient throughout pregnancy, making up an important part of your balanced diet. Your blood cells need iron to carry oxygen
You will be offered blood tests as part of your ante-natal care which will check for anaemia (a condition caused by iron deficiency. Many women have lower haemoglobin levels during pregnancy, but you’ll only be prescribed iron supplements if yours are very low.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron for pregnant or breastfeeding women is 15mg a day. Eating enough iron-rich foods can help you maintain adequate levels.
Adding iron to your diet
While vitamin C improves iron uptake, the phenolic compounds in tea and coffee, along with phytates found in wholegrains and legumes can inhibit it. For this reason, it’s a good idea to drink a glass of fruit juice or eat a piece of fruit with high vitamin C content with or after eating iron-rich foods.
Make sure you get enough of the following iron-rich foods:
- Lean meat (always make sure it's well cooked) and oily fish, such as sardines
- Dark green vegetables, including broccoli, watercress, spinach and kale
- Nuts, especially cashew nuts
- Pulses, chickpeas, beans and lentils
Wholegrains, including wholemeal bread, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals
- Dried fruits, such as apricots, prunes and raisins
Your baby, this week
Discover the science behind your baby's developments, week-by-week
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.