18 Weeks Pregnant
Welcome to the feeling of being beautifully pregnant as you turn 18 weeks pregnant this week. You are finally beginning to enjoy this wonderful time. Your baby is growing and maturing each day and you are nearing the half way milestone in this journey. Your 18 week fetus is approximately 5.6 inches tall and weighs around 200 grams, as big as a sweet potato.
How Your Baby is Growing This Week?
As you enter week 18, your baby’s face is completely formed and he or she masters a new skill this week that is yawning. Another important development is the maturing nervous system. The nerves are getting a coating of a fatty layer called the myelin sheath which helps in transmitting of messages between nerve cells. Also, there are connections forming between the nerve cells which will help in building the nervous pathways for special senses of the body like touch, smell, sound, taste and sight. With the help of these senses, your baby will be able to experience and feel the world around him making him ready for that first touch which he will feel when he comes into your arms. The sense of smell is getting stronger and he will recognize your smell as the one which gives him security and familiarity. The presence of these developing special senses cannot be seen on ultrasound but the responses of the baby indicate that things are developing normally.
In case you are having a girl, the uterus and fallopian tubes are developed by now and in their place. If your baby is a boy, the genitals are completely formed and can be easily seen on ultrasound.
Your little acrobat can now twist, turn and kick and you are at a stage where you will begin to feel these movements. The little flutters will turn into nudges and soft kicks. It is a lovely feeling to lie down quietly and feel those movements.
Changes in Your Body at 18 Weeks Pregnant
Your flat abdomen has given way to a rounded shape. The 18 weeks pregnant belly is noticeable and you may be able to use the advantage to get a seat when you are travelling. It is also not advisable to keep standing for long duration as your growing belly is putting pressure on the back muscles leading to backache.
The hormone relaxin causes relaxation of the joints and muscles of the body making you more prone to back pain, joint and muscle aches. Another reason is the shift in the center of gravity as your abdomen grows.
You are suffering from heartburn more often because the growing uterus pushes the abdominal organs upwards causing more acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. Smaller portions of meal will help to keep the acid levels low and lessen your symptoms.
Weight gain is happening but slowly. You are steadily gaining weight as your little baby grows. It is very important to enjoy snacks that are healthy at this time and choose apples and crackers over chips and colas.
You must have begun to feel the baby’s kicks by now. Place your palm gently on the belly and you may be able to feel the still growing 18 weeks pregnant movement. The movements will get stronger in the weeks to come.
Week 18 Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
As you cruise through the second trimester, here are some symptoms you will notice during your pregnancy week 18.
- Increasing appetite day by day.
- Frequent urination.
- Round ligament pains
- Backaches and joint pain
- Linea Nigra
- Itching of skin over abdomen and breasts
- Oedema and swelling of feet
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Engorgement of breasts
- Swollen gums
- Vivid dreams
- Weight gain
- Protruding belly button
- Visible baby bump
- Darkening of acne or moles all over the body
- Dryness of the eyes
- Visible bluish veins on breasts and abdomen
- Increased sweating due to increased blood volume
- Lustrous hair
Linea nigra is dark line which begins to appear on the abdomen during pregnancy. It extends from the pubis to the umbilicus.
Itching is very common in pregnancy due to the stretching of skin. Stretch marks also begin to appear. It may help to use a moisturizer on the skin at this time.
Diagnostic Tests and Ultrasound Results in Week 18 of Pregnancy
The 18 weeks pregnant ultrasound shows a clear image of the baby. Your baby at 18 weeks is now big enough to be scanned on a transabdominal ultrasound. The head and body parts are clearly visible and it is during this time that a detailed scan of the baby which is called as “Anomaly Scan” is done. All the parts are individually screened and measurements of the long bones are taken. The measurements are calibrated by the computer into age of the baby in number of weeks. This is correlated to number of weeks of pregnancy. Normally both these values are seen to be similar indicating adequate growth.
If you are lucky you may be able to see your little one yawning during the 18 week ultrasound. It is a very cute sight and will make you smile whenever you think about it.
The fetal heart rate is checked and measured. It ranges between 140-160 beats per minute. The other parameters which will be checked are the placenta, amniotic fluid and cervix.
Blood tests for chromosomal disorders will be done between 16 to 18 weeks if not done earlier. These include tests like AFP-alpha feto protein which give a risk analysis of diseases like Down’s syndrome in the baby.
Pregnancy Health Tips
- Due to changes in the circulatory system you may experience dizziness with change in position. Avoid sudden movements and change in positions.
- Have plenty of water to keep constipation, leg cramps and acidity at bay
- Sleeping may be getting difficult these days. Lie on your left side with a pillow supported under the belly. Lying on your back may not be a very good position during this time.
- Take good care of your teeth and gums. Brush and floss twice a day.
- In case you have swelling of feet, wear one size larger shoes or open slippers. Also keep the legs supported when sitting and do not stand for long duration.
- Use a moisturizer or cocoa butter cream for the stretch marks which have begun to appear now.
- Follow an exercise routine or join a yoga class. Ante-natal classes will help you to interact with other expectant moms and alleviate your anxiety.