Remember when you were 1 week pregnant and week 18 seemed distant? Well, week 18 is here and you can pat yourself on the back for the far you’ve come! You have every reason to be excited. After all, you are almost halfway your pregnancy journey!
At 18 weeks pregnant, your baby is developing rapidly and the facial expressions are more distinct. What is more notable is the fast development of the gall bladder as it starts digesting chunks of the amniotic fluid. As the baby bump continues developing rapidly, you are still in the blissful session of your pregnancy. So, have lots of fun!
Your Baby at 18 Weeks Pregnant
At week 18, your baby has grown and is now the size of a sweet potato, measures approximately 5.5 inches long from rump to crown, and weighs about 7 ounces.
Your baby is also getting busy trying to learn and practice new skills. Well, do not ask where the baby learned how to suckle when he/she is finally born. It starts here. The baby yawns and takes chunks of amniotic fluid into its digestive systems. The amniotic fluid acts just like a glass of milk you take every day. It helps the system to practice digesting and also clear the dead cells. Well, check the first diaper and part of this will be seen in the first poop as a black and tarry substance.
Around this week, the ears will continue growing and can be seen standing out from the side of the head. Your baby will now be able to hear more sounds from the environment. Go ahead and whisper something. Your bundle of joy is listening!
The liver and gall bladder are also developing fast and will start releasing some bile to help digest some amniotic fluid around this week.
The baby is also developing its unique characteristics. Fat will start building on the toes and fingertips. Finally, distinguishing swirling lines and fingerprints will emerge.
Your Body at 18 Weeks Pregnant
At 18 weeks pregnant, the baby and uterus are growing rapidly resulting in extra pressure and stretching. At this time, you should expect to gain about 1-2 pounds every week. You will also notice stronger movements and kicks from the baby. Note that these movements might have started a few weeks earlier because developments vary from one woman to another.
Your body is also going through a lot of circulation changes. The blood vessels are expanding rapidly resulting in low blood pressure. This could result in you feeling a little lightheaded if ample blood is not flowing into the head. You need to stay hydrated and do mild exercises regularly.
Around week 18, the body is also likely to start releasing a pregnancy hormone referred to as relaxin. This hormone relaxes your pelvic joints to make it easy for the baby to pass through the birth canal later at the end of the pregnancy. Another effect of this hormone is that it causes the foot bones to start spreading. Therefore, you might consider getting broader shoes.
18 Weeks Pregnant is How Many Months?
If you are in the 18th week, it means that your pregnancy is in the 5th month. You are about to hit the half pregnancy mark by the 20th week! Once the fifth month is done, you will be remaining with only four months. Your baby will continue developing rapidly and the bump will grow even bigger.
18 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound
The next ultrasound should be around the corner, on the 20th week. It is referred to as the anatomy scan/ level-two ultrasound that seeks to examine the features of the baby’s entire body.
If you were to have an ultrasound in week 18, it would reveal that the baby is getting super active. He/she is practicing with different moves such as yawning, swallowing, kicking, and hiccupping. Other movements used to practice the muscles include rolling, twisting, and punching.
The ultrasound would also show the fast developing nervous system that starts from the head running through the back and terminating in different parts of the body. However, the view of the nervous system could be blurry because of the developing layer of fat on the skin and lanungo (hair on the baby’s skin).
If you are pregnant with twins or multiples, the ultra scan would reveal a thin membrane separating them.
18 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms
As weeks race towards mid-pregnancy, the symptoms will start intensifying with the growing baby bump. Here are the main symptoms to expect in week 18 of pregnancy.
By the 18th week of pregnancy, your heart is operating 50% harder compared to the period before you fell pregnant. When this combines with the pressure exerted on the blood vessels by the growing bump, you are likely to feel faint. This feeling will be common after waking up. To address the problem, you should take some fruits to boost blood sugar and take a lot of rest.
As the belly grows and hormones change, you are likely to experience aches, especially on the lower back. This symptom is expected to continue over the remaining period of the pregnancy. You should avoid tasks that require standing for longer sessions and ensure to get a lot of rest.
At week 18, the leg cramps will start becoming a common thing. These cramps strike, especially at night. You can calm them by stretching the legs, staying hydrated, taking a hot shower, and massage.
Nasal related problems
The surging hormones and pregnancy result in high volume of blood in different areas of the body. In the nasal cavity, the effect is swelling of the mucous membrane resulting in nasal congestion and nosebleeds.
Things to Do at 18 Weeks Pregnant
Now that you are nearing mid-pregnancy, it is time to start making the final decisions regarding delivery and your child. You cannot wait until the last few weeks! Here are a couple of things to do in the 18th week.
This week is a great time to start interviewing pediatricians. Ask them as many questions as possible about the remaining period of pregnancy, delivery, and even post-delivery. Find out about hospital affiliations, appointments availability, vaccines, and circumcision.
Increase the intake of omega–3 fatty acids
Now that the baby’s nervous system is developing, you should give it a boost. You can do this by taking foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, flaxseed, fatty fish, and broccoli.
Increase the calories intake
As your body works hard to support the growing baby, it requires extra calories. However, you need to take care to ensure that only healthy calories are taken. Instead of taking fast foods and junk, go for healthier options such as nuts, skim milk, and sandwich. Aim at getting an additional 300 calories every single day.
Increase the daily intake of iron
As the body continues developing new blood and the baby’s circulatory system starts working, you need to increase the intake of iron. You can achieve this by taking foods such as soy products, pumpkin seeds, seaweed, blackstrap molasses, and spinach. You could also start taking iron supplements.
Continue with childbirth classes
Your childbirth classes are more important now that at any other moment. You should interact with the trainer and other moms to find out what really happens in the delivery room. For example, find out what happens if the baby is too big during delivery. Go ahead and ask about episiotomy. If their explanations are not satisfactory, your healthcare provider will always come handy to clear up any queries you might be having.
Get your partner to feel the baby
Now that the baby’s kicks can be felt more vividly, you need to have your partner feel them. It will be a great bonding moment and to get him more involved. Indeed, you should let him feel the movements more often!
18 Weeks Pregnant Checklist
- Keep growing the list of baby names. If you think the list is enough, start narrowing to the best options.
- Read or watch videos on pregnancy. This will build your knowledge and give you suggestions on what to ask your doctor.
- Continue taking your daily dose of folic acid. This is crucial in helping the developing backbone and vital organs such as brain and heart.
- Make sure to attend pregnancy exercises. These will not only help to relieve you some of the troublesome symptoms, but will also ensure your pregnancy is fun.
- Talk to your baby every day. The baby will love to hear you recite a great poem about your dream for a great future.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor at 18 Weeks Pregnant
- Ask the doctor about the scheduling of the next ultrasound. What should you expect?
- Ask about the pregnancy risks to be aware of in week 18 and the remaining period of the second trimester.
- Ask the doctor about complications that are common in the second trimester.
Week 18 of pregnancy presents you with the perfect opportunity to enjoy your pregnancy and bond with your baby. The troublesome symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy are long gone, your baby has made huge strides in terms of developments, and you are about to hit the big milestone of mid pregnancy. Read as much as you can, spend time with other pregnant women, share your fears and concerns, keep writing your journal, direct any questions you have to your health provider, and put in place measures to ensure your baby develops in the most safe environments! You are doing great. You are almost halfway. Pat yourself on the back!
Go forward to week 19.