Week Eighteen of Pregnancy

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Your baby at week eighteen of pregnancy

You are almost half way through your pregnancy! Your baby has reached the impressive size of a sweet potato and weighs approximately 200g and around 15cm in length. Your baby’s body is preparing for life in the real world by practicing digesting and excreting fluids. The baby swallows the amniotic fluids surrounding him or her, and this travels through their digestive tract, through the stomach and intestines, then the digested amniotic fluid combines with dead cells, and secretions from the intestines to produce a black, tar- like substance called meconium.

Your baby’s nerves will be forming a protective fatty layer, called myelin, around them. Myelin is critical to ensure development and growth of the nervous system, and to ensure that the nervous system functions properly post birth. At eighteen weeks, your baby has learned a new party trick, and can now yawn! After mastering the hiccup last week, and getting larger and more active every day, you should start to feel these movements, and maybe even catch a glimpse of them on the ultrasound! Look for actions such as rolling, kicking, punching, or even gripping onto and playing with the umbilical cord!

Your body at week eighteen of pregnancy       

Due to the hormone relaxin, loosening all of your joints and relaxing your ligaments, in addition to your now watermelon sized uterus shifting your sense of gravity, you may be suffering from nagging back pain.

Try to relieve this discomfort by using a foot rest to raise your feet slightly when resting. Reduce the pain in your lower back by placing one foot on a low stool when standing (when possible). Also, it is astounding the wonders that a long soak in the bath can do to relieve discomfort and anxieties.

Did you know that your heart is working forty to fifty percent harder than it was before you fell pregnant? In combination with the extra pressure put on your blood vessels, it is no wonder that you may be suffering from frequent dizzy spells! When this happens, try eating some fruit or lying on your side, to help boost your circulation and calm your dizzy spells.

What you may be feeling at week eighteen of pregnancy

You may be feeling a bit scared this week and wonder at your ability to be a good parent. It is not unusual to even doubt that you made the right decision to become pregnant at all! Don’t worry this is perfectly natural and does not mean that you will not love your baby or be a great parent. Pregnancy is a daunting time and it is understandable to have doubts. Often these fears are worse at night if you cannot sleep and you may lie awake worrying. Speak to your partner and share your concerns. A little reassurance is often all that is needed. These worries will subside.

Common symptoms at week eighteen of pregnancy

  • Dizziness
  • Decrease in fluctuating emotions
  • Heartburn or constipation
  • Food aversions or cravings may continue
  • Increased energy
  • Swollen gums and sensitivity
  • Nosebleeds due to increased blood-flow and sensitive nasal passages
  • Shortness of breath
  • Clumsiness
  • Anxiety about your pregnancy and the birth
  • Anxiety about your role as a parent and the changes that will bring to your family

Tips for week eighteen of pregnancy

  • Book an appointment at your dentist – pregnancy increases the risk of periodontal disease. It is safe to have a routine appointment at your dentist and hygienist but you should mention that you are pregnant and x-rays should be avoided.
  • It is a good idea now to start planning for your baby’s birth. Look for childbirth classes where you can find details about what is on offer from your doctor or hospital. You can also ask friends for referrals. This is also a great way to meet mums expecting babies at the same time as you are!

If you have any symptoms that concern you it is important to consult your doctor as soon as you can.

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