The 18th week of pregnancy is an exciting week for most first time mothers. During this week, they will feel the first flutter or twinge in their belly. It is a reminder of the bundle of joy that will be with them in a few weeks. This article provides you information about what to expect and how your baby is developing during the 18th week of pregnancy.
18 weeks pregnant
You are in the 18th week of your pregnancy and are gaining around a pound per week. Your bump is growing, and you may be having some balance issues. Your baby is the size of bell pepper and is busy practicing his kicking and flexing skills inside your womb. As the pregnancy grows and the baby’s movements grow more energetic, you will be able to feel the movements (1).
The feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness is common during pregnancy. When you stand up too quickly from a lying down or sitting position, it can make you dizzy. This lightheadedness happens because, in a particular position, the uterus can push against an artery and restrict the flow of blood. Sudden change can cause a rush of blood, which makes you dizzy.
2. Swollen feet and hands
Swelling happens when your body holds on to more fluids than usual. Try to rest your legs higher than your hips. Avoid standing in one position for a very long time. Wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated.
Your growing baby and uterus can push your center of gravity forward and put stress on your spine, which can lead to backaches.
4. Leg cramps
Cramps in the legs at night are common during pregnancy. Exercise regularly and stay hydrated. Stretch your legs before you go to bed, as this may prevent leg cramps.
5. Varicose veins
You may notice blue or purple swollen veins on your legs and calves. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases, which puts pressure on your veins and causes varicose veins. Avoid standing in one position for an extended period, and do gentle leg exercises like calf stretches and ankle circling.
6. Nose bleeds
Increased pressure on the veins in the nose can cause them to bleed. If you have a nosebleed, you must apply pressure by pinching your nose for five minutes. An ice pack can also help.
Pregnancy hormones can cause the mucous membranes in the mouth to swell, causing inflammation and bleeding in the gums. Continue to floss and brush your teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Brushing too aggressively can irritate the gums further.
8. Digestive issues
Pregnant women often complain about digestive problems like bloating, gas, and heartburn. Eat small regular meals and stay away from foods that trigger gas and indigestion.
Discomfort during pregnancy and emotional distress can cause sleep problems. Try to sleep on your side with your legs bent. Keeping your head elevated can prevent heartburn, which may keep you awake.
Your body at week 18 of pregnancy
Your uterus has moved further up and out of the pelvic area and is now the size of a cantaloupe melon. You can now feel it around 1 ½ inch below your belly button.
Your baby bump is quite visible now. However, do not compare your baby bump to other women in the same stage of pregnancy. The size of your baby bump varies according to your weight, height, and build. Your doctor is tracking the growth of your baby during the prenatal appointments, and all is fine.
The pregnancy hormone relaxin is relaxing your ligaments, including those that attach your pelvic bones to your spine and loosening your joints. This may cause backaches and painful joints (2).
You may also notice that your shoes are not fitting you well anymore. This may be due to swelling in your feet. Pregnancy hormone relaxin also loosens the ligaments in your feet, causing the food bones to spread. It may be time to go and buy some new shoes.
Your baby at week 18 of your pregnancy
By the end of this week, your baby will be 6.3 inches long and weigh 5 1/2 ounces.
- Your baby has learned to yawn and hiccup now.
- Your baby’s nervous system is also developing. A substance called myelin covers your baby’s nerves.
- Your baby’s body is covered with a waxy coating called vernix and fine hair called lanugo.
- Your baby’s ears are now in place and are now standing out from the head a bit.
- In the lungs, bronchioles have started developing at the tip of the branches.
- Your baby’s genitals have formed now.
- Your baby sleeps and wakes up regularly (3).
Tips to be followed when you are 18 weeks pregnant
Eat healthy meals that contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and other illicit drugs. Take vitamin supplements prescribed by your doctor.
Staying fit and active throughout the pregnancy is vital for your health and that of your baby. Follow an exercise routine that is not too strenuous. Avoid overexertion and exhaustion. Yoga, swimming, and walking are some excellent options.
3. Take childbirth classes
Childbirth classes help to prepare you for labor and delivery. They also educate you about pain relief and what happens during an emergency. Contact your healthcare provider or your hospital to see what options for childbirth classes are available.
4. Prepare for maternity leave
It is not too early for you to start thinking about your maternity leave. Fill out all the paperwork in advance and find out what benefits for which you are eligible.
5. Prepare your older children
If you have other children, it is time to talk to them that soon they will have a new brother or sister. Knowing this gives them a few months to adjust to the upcoming change in their life.
Your week 18 of pregnancy doctor’s visit
If you have had your first scan between 8 to 14 weeks, you will have your second scan between 18 to 21 weeks. This scan gives you a decent idea for your expected due date, and it also confirms how many babies you are carrying.
This scan is also known as the anomaly scan because it provides you a detailed view of your baby’s appearance and development. This is a thorough scan of the brain, heart, bones, face, spinal cord, and abdomen of your baby. Doctors can pick up a wide range of conditions through this scan. You can also learn the sex of your baby at this stage. The maternal serum screening test can be done between 15 to 18 weeks. This blood test helps to evaluate the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and abnormalities in the abdominal wall.
Tips for the partner
You may notice that as your partner’s bump is growing, so is her anxiety. Listen to her and help to calm her down. Talking and sharing your feelings is very important. At this stage, you may also be dealing with your worries about fatherhood. Share your thoughts. It will help you both if you are honest about your feeling with each other. You may find out that you are worried about the same things.
Your baby is the size of bell pepper and is busy practicing his kicking and flexing skills inside your womb. Your bump is growing, and you may be suffering several aches and pain now. You may also be suffering from varicose veins, nose bleeds, and bleeding gums. Take it easy, eat healthy meals, and stay fit.