Congratulations! You are now entering 18 weeks of pregnancy. At 18 weeks pregnant, you are just a little under halfway to the finish line. Way to go you! This week, your baby will be growing faster than you can keep up with. There are so many changes going on inside that will prepare your little one for his or her big debut. Let’s go over your baby’s development (that is rapidly changing week by week) as well as your development. Not only that, but we will take a look at some tips and tricks that will help you get through your second trimester of pregnancy.
Your Baby’s Development
This week, your little one is undergoing some significant changes. For starters, your little one is weighing in at a little over 5 pounds. Here are some other amazing ways your baby is growing.
1. Your Baby’s Nervous System
Your little one’s nervous system is starting to grow and mature. And impressively enough, it is doing so at a pace faster than you can keep up with. At 18 weeks pregnant, some magical things are happening. Your baby’s nerves not only are continuing to grow, but they are starting to form a protective coating. This protective coating is called the Myelin Sheath and acts as an insulator. It will continue to grow around your little one's nerves until roughly around your baby’s first birthday.
2. Your Baby’s Hearing
As your little one's nervous system expands and matures, his and her senses will do so as well. One such sense is the sense of hearing. At 18 weeks pregnant, your baby will begin to hear muffled noises as his acute sense of hearing forms. The soft beating of your heart is one of the first sounds that your baby will here. It won’t be long before your little one can hear the sound of your voice as well as any lullabies, songs, or stories you read and sing for him or her
3. Their Unique Fingerprints
18 weeks of pregnancy is an exciting time because your little one is becoming their own individual person - literally. This is easily identified in the fact that they will be getting their one of a kind baby fingerprints at 18 weeks of pregnancy. This will be the distinguishing factor between them and everyone else in the world once they are born. How cool is that?
4. Boy Or Girl?
Although it might be too early to schedule your second-trimester ultrasound, 18 weeks pregnant is roughly the time that your baby's genitals start to become more distinguished. If you are having a girl, her fallopian tubes and uterus are formed and are in the proper position. For moms who will be having a boy, it may not be easy to distinguish on the ultrasound because his genitals may not yet be visible. If you do have an ultrasound, and would instead hold off on finding out the gender, be sure to let your ultrasound technician know to keep the secret under wraps.
Kick Baby Kick!
At 18 weeks pregnant, you should really start feeling your baby kicking now. While these little jabs and punches may not be noticeable on the outside, you certainly will be able to feel them on the inside. You may notice that the kicks have a certain rhythm to them. For example, you are more likely to feel the kicks and jabs in the evening and night then you are during the day. As you move around during the day, your walking movements will gently rock your baby to sleep.
When your little one is sleeping, they are less likely to kick and jab you. When you start to wind down for the night, you are more likely to feel your little one kicking because they are getting ready to play. For first-time moms, this can be a really neat experience. Enjoy these small punches and jabs by gently rubbing your belly to let your little one now that you are waiting for him.
Your baby is not the only one undergoing some significant changes. Your body is as well. Here are some things to look out for at 18 weeks pregnant.
1. Your Budding Baby Bump
At 18 weeks pregnant, your body is continuing to change and while you’re probably already feeling it, you may start to show as well. Your uterus is slowly expanding, and you may be sporting your first signs of a baby bump. In terms of fruit and vegetables, at 18 weeks pregnant your little one is about the size of a small cantaloupe. If you put your fingers right below your belly button for about an inch and a half, you may be able to feel your expanding uterus.
2. Back Pain
As your uterus continues to expand, you will be starting to feel the effects of it on your back. With the increasing weight, your center of gravity will begin to shift, and this means that your back will be pulling forward to compensate for the rapid change. To make matters worse, the pregnancy hormone relaxin is released. Relaxin is what helps relax your ligaments surrounding the pelvic bone and joints in your body.
While this is meant to help your body adjust to the changes it undergoes in pregnancy, the downside is that your body will feel a little more strain due to the increased weight and lack of support. You’re more likely to feel the strain in your back first so be sure to focus on your posture as you continue to 18 weeks of pregnancy. To help with the support, you may want to consider in investing in a good belly band or pregnancy belt.
3. Low Blood Pressure
As you progress through you pregnancy, your body will continue to produce more blood. Unfortunately, this increase in blood production is an extra strain on your cardiovascular system. As you ease into your 18 weeks pregnancy, try to take things easy because this increased strain on your cardiovascular system can lead to low blood pressure. When sitting and standing or changing positions, in general, be sure to do it slowly. If you switch from a sitting to a standing position to quickly, you can get an onset of dizziness that may disorient you and lead to accidental injury.
Be prepared to get well acquainted with heartburn while you are 18 weeks pregnant because the more you progress during pregnancy, the stronger your heartburn will get. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent heartburn in 18 weeks of pregnancy. Stay away from spicy food and fried food. To continue reducing heartburn, consider splitting your three course meals into six smaller meals. Eating smaller meals puts less strain on your digestive system which means less heartburn. Don't forget to pack along a bottle of Tums to keep the heartburn away when it strikes when you least expect it.
5. 18 week pregnancy check up
It is roughly around 18 weeks of pregnancy that your third prenatal visit happens. Depending on your doctor or midwife, you may or may not be an offered an ultrasound once you become 18 weeks pregnant. Many doctors and midwives would prefer to hold off until the 20th week of pregnancy to have an ultrasound conducted. This gives your practitioner a better view of your baby's development. Not only that, but if you wanted to find out the gender of your little one, your sonographer will have a better shot at being able to distinguish once you are further progress.
Pregnancy Tips For This Week
Use these tips and tricks to help make your 18 weeks of pregnancy go as smoothly as it can.
1. Moisturizers And Stretch Mark Cream
Be sure to use a skin moisturizer or stretch mark cream such as the Mustela Stretch Mark cream once you hit 18 weeks pregnant. As your uterus starts to expand, your skin will soon follow suit. Stretch marks are an often dreaded result of a growing belly. There is not much you can do to prevent or certainly stop stretch marks. This is due to the fact that they appear primarily because of your genetic code. There are, however, some things you can do to help reduce them.
For starters, you want to get your hands on a good moisturizer or stretch mark cream. Be sure to apply a generous amount twice a day. You will want to apply the cream once in the morning and once in the evening before you go to bed. Regularly applying moisturizer or stretch mark cream will help keep your skin moisturized. Not only that, but it will help keep the skin on your growing belly from not ripping as it stretches out.
2. Stay Hydrated
Another great way to fight off stretch marks is by staying adequately hydrated. Proper hydration will help improve the collagen in your skin as well as help with your skin's elasticity. Keep a bottle of water with you handy at all times throughout the day. It is essential that at 18 weeks pregnant you stay properly hydrated. You want to drink fluids to avoid pregnancy annoyances such as dehydration and dizziness. We recommend investing in a good water bottle that you can carry around with you and refill throughout the day.
3. Give Yourself A Break
18 weeks is a big week for your little one because he or she is going under rapid changes. Your body will feel the effects of this. So, you will need to give yourself plenty of breaks often as you can. If you are able to, schedule a nap or two (or more, no judgment!) throughout the day. Regular breaks will give your body ample time to recharge. If you have little ones in the home that you have to take care of, get some help. Recruit your significant other or find a trusted friend or relative to watch your kiddos as you take a break for yourself.
Taking naps is not something you want to skip out on. Something so little as this can make a big difference in how much energy you have to get through your day.
4. Goodbye Morning Sickness
For many moms, you should slowly start easing your way out of morning sickness by 18 weeks of pregnancy. As your energy and appetite pick back up, be sure to take advantage of it. Indulge in some foods that you weren’t able to do so in your first trimester. And don't be shy to give in to those cravings that you are probably experiencing by now. Just be sure that you are eating foods that are beneficial in nutrients and vitamins.
Properly nourishing your body will give you some much needed energy to catch up on things that you missed out on in your first trimester of pregnancy. Along with this, your growing baby will thank you for keeping a healthy diet. If you are still battling morning sickness, here are some tips and tricks you can try to keep the morning sickness at bay. In severe cases, morning sickness may be just as intense during your 18 weeks of pregnancy as it was the first time you experienced it. If this describes you, be sure to check in with your doctor or midwife as soon as possible for some additional help.
Before you know it, being 18 weeks pregnant will fly by, and you will be that much closer to the halfway mark. Enjoy this week of your pregnancy because the coming weeks will only get a little trickier as your baby continues to grow and your belly continues to expand. Good luck!