You’ll find you’re gaining weight week by week, which is perfectly normal
Not all the weight you’re gaining is your baby. In fact, most of the increase is because parts of your body, such as your breasts, are getting bigger and your blood volume is increasing. You might want to think about booking antenatal classes now because they fill up quickly. They are a great source of information, as well as a good way to make friends and compare notes with other pregnant women.
1.Your uterus is likely to be large enough to give you a noticeably rounded belly.
2.The sex organs are developing well, both externally and internally. In baby girls, follicles containing immature eggs are already forming in the ovaries.
3.Your baby is now bigger than the placenta for the first time, and will continue to outgrow it.
4.At 18 weeks the average crown to rump length is 14.2cm (5.6in) and the average weight is 190g (6.7oz).
5.The placenta is still growing, although not as fast as in earlier weeks. It continues to be a vital supply line for the baby.
6.The baby’s movements are getting more vigorous and you may now be able to feel them.
By the 18th week of pregnancy, your sweetheart would be a size of a sweet potato. While you might be suffering from a bothersome back, your baby’s kicks and feels of moving around will make you relish this new phase of pregnancy.
Your baby’s development
Your baby is now getting fat all over his or her body and its teeth have started to form. Your baby’s height is about 8 inches now and weights near about 6 inches.
You will be having plenty of room inside your uterus now, hence your fetus can now get ample of room and space to develop and form new muscles. Your little bundle of joy might change his or her positions more frequently now, as he or she would be crossing the legs, reclining, sucking the thumb and turning somersaults inside you. Your baby would have his retinas become more and more light sensitive now, and if you flash a torch on your belly, your baby would be able to detect a glow – even though the baby’s eyelids are shut now.
Looking around the size of a bell pepper by now, your baby would be busy flexing his or her arms and legs. Its blood vessels will become all the more visible through the thick skin and the ears will be finally placed in the real positions, even though they would be poking out of the head a bit.
Your baby is soon going to develop a protective covering around his or nerves, which is also known a myelin – a covering that speeds messages from nerve cell to nerve cell. This process will continue to form till about a year after your cutie pie is born. If at all you are housing a girl inside you, she would be having her uterus and fallopian tubes formed by now and if it is a boy, he would be having genitals noticeable by now, which might or not be noticeable during the ultrasounds based on your baby’s positioning.
During the 18th week of pregnancy, your baby learns to roll, kick, twist and punch his way around the womb. And as far as the biggest skill of the week is concerned, by now your baby would be mastering the art of yawning, along with hiccupping. A sensation you might soon feel enough! As a matter of fact, you might even catch a glimpse of that adorable yawn and all other fetal movement, during the ultrasound during this stage. How adorably cute is that?
By the 18th week, your baby is developing its nervous system. His or her nerves are getting a sense of touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. And talking of hearing, your baby is growing more and more acute, making him or her conscious of sound, which would directly mean you and your baby might be directly listening to each and other’s hiccups.
Changes in you
During this very week, or during the course of coming weeks, you might feel your baby’s very first movements inside of you – which can range from a slight sensation in your pelvis to hard kicks inside your tummy. Also known as quickening, in many cultures it is believed that it is only during this stage the real life begins to form inside of you. This might result into a direct pain in your tailbone, legs and other such related muscles.
This week you might feel sudden hunger pangs and don’t be surprised if you feel sudden special food cravings, just like in the initial months of pregnancy. It is best suggested to go for meals that are nutrient-dense and not the ones that are loaded with empty calories.
As of now your internal cardiovascular system is undergoing tremendous changes, and by this 18th week of pregnancy you might suffer from low blood pressure. Hence, it is advised not to spring up in a jerky motion or too fast from a lying or sitting position, as you might feel dizzy doing so. It is advisable to lie on your left hand side, while being partly tilted to one side. This is because lying flat on your back might lead to compressing of major veins in your body that might pump a decreased amount of blood returning to your heart. Try placing a pillow under your hip or below your upper leg for extra comfort.
This is also the time to go for the second time-tested ultrasound as this painless procedure will help your gynaecologist to check your baby’s growth, screen for birth defects, while checking the placenta and umbilical cord’s status. The most fun part about this procedure is that you might look at your tiny tot playing around, or sucking his or her thumb. Best way to relish this stage is to bring your partner along for such ultrasounds and get your baby’s first photo album ready! A keepsake memento for life, isn’t it?
But one thing to notice here is that at times it can be really hard to decipher ultrasound images, so make sure you are not feeling bad if you cannot fathom, which part of the baby is what! Just ask the sonographer to point out the body parts to you.
Nutrition for you
- Make best friends with nutrients: Load up on calcium (low-fat cheese, tofu, almonds, skimmed milk); folic acid (kale, beans, spinach, while-grain breads, while-grain cereals); iron (beefs, nuts, pork, tofu, oatmeal, soy); proteins (turkey, chicken, soybean, pulses); Vitamin A (broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, mangoes, skin of the potatoes); Vitamin C (sweet potatoes, leafy green, eggs, dairy, carrots, while-grain cereals); and zinc (nuts, legumes, whole grains, spinach, peas and lean dairy).
- Is changing your fitness routine advisable? If you have been feeling and doing all of the healthy activities during this term of pregnancy, then you can continue with exercising. However, make sure to opt for a few sensible modifications in the type and variety of exercises in order to accommodate your growing belly. Totally skip performing jarring and bouncing motions as sudden changes of positions in exercises can lead to sudden aches and pains.
- If you have been pretty sedentary by now, but would want to start performing exercises, then be cautious: Check with your healthcare provider for exercising plans and start on with gentle exercises for a short period of time. Start by performing 15-minutes’ small workouts for a few times in a week, gradually dialling upto intense daily routines. Star with walking, swimming and prenatal yoga exercises, which is a great way to strengthen your body as well as relieve aches and pains.
- Make best friends with Kegels: In a bid to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, kegel exercises are a great way to support your uterus, vagina, rectum, bladder and urethra. Not only this, kegels also helps in preventing leaks during and after pregnancy – a phenomenon that is greatly beneficial in the second stage of labor. For performing these exercises, all you have to do is tighten the muscles around your vagina, as if you are interrupting the flow of urine. Go for a squeeze and life technique and work on your pelvic floor muscles while releasing your breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and then release, going up to three to four sets a day.
Nutrition for baby
- Importance of iodine intake during this stage: By this time, your baby’s thyroid glands are forming and so are his or her hormones, hence it is important to have adequate intake of iron in your body. Rich sources of iodine include haddocks, mackerel, prawn, salmon and sardines. Vegetarians can opt for dairy products, like paneer, butter, yogurts, along with mushrooms, onions and spinaches.
- Choose from delicious snacks and drinks: When it comes to choosing the right sort of drinks during this stage of pregnancy, go for apple and date smoothie, blackcurrant smoothies andrasam. You can also try uttapams, paneer tikka, soya kebabs and homemade fruit yogurt as healthy snacks.
- Your posture might shift: During this stage, your baby can be felt just half an inch below your belly button, which will have a direct impact on your posture. You might slouch a bit back as there is added weight and pressure on your belly.
- Constant backaches: As and when your baby gets big, you are bound to get that extra pressure on your lower back curves, resulting in strained back muscles. Your abdomen is now thrusting out, coupled with pregnancy hormone relaxinat its play, a process where you feel your ligaments are relaxing, and loosening of joints, which tends to leave you with pains, aches and backaches. You can soothe the sore back muscles by getting a warm bath or taking a prenatal massage. Also, make it a point to elevate your feet slightly when sleeping or sitting to take some pressure off your lower back.
- Heartburn may erupt: Remember those irritating heartaches during the first few weeks of pregnancy? Those might return by the 18th week of pregnancy as if your gut is on fire. This can be prevented by eating slowly, chewing properly, eating smaller meals and sitting upright for a few hours after eating. Keep your head elevated during sleeping and keep spicy foods at bay.
- Unusual feat movement: If during this time, you have been feeling an unusual rumbling in your tummy then it is nothing but your tiny tot’s movements inside your tummy. Even though you haven’t felt any of the movements by now, there is nothing at all to worry as it might take a few more weeks to pinpoint those first few kicks.
- Stretch marks: Even though they are nothing but a badge of honour for a pregnant woman, stretch marks might make you feel down and dusted! Don’t get bugged by it as it is a very natural phenomenon and your skin is just getting elasticised in order to accommodate the growing size of a baby. A fun way to deal with stretch marks is that you should ask your hubby to rub some moisturising lotion all over your belly!
- Edema, also known as swelling of ankles and feet: By now, your body tissue would start to accumulate a lot of fluid – after all, your pregnant body requires fluid to support the growth and development of you and your baby. This might have a direct consequence on your ankles and fluid as fluids tend to accumulate there because of the law of gravity. You can reduce water retention in your feet by not standing or sitting for a longer period of time. Also, try and keep your legs elevated when lying down in order to tackle swelling efficiently.
What do the experts suggest?
“By the 18th week, your belly is growing quickly and you probably have an impressive baby bump. You might experience increased energy, but also bouts of exhaustion. When you feel tired, taking a short power nap. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common complaint among pregnant women which results in tingling, numbness, and pain in the hand and arm. Body aches, such as back, groin, or thigh pain, may begin plaguing you in your second trimester. You can experience body aches. The increased weight of your baby can also put extra pressure on your pelvic bones. Hot or cold compresses or massage may help. Nighttime leg cramps are also common. Stay hydrated and stretch your legs before bed. This may help prevent cramps. Exercise during the day may also help.
Continue to eat a nutritious diet which might include calcium and iron-rich foods, and foods high in folic acid, such as leafy greens and citrus fruits. If you crave sweets, eat fresh fruit instead of cakes or processed sweets. Avoid high-calorie and fried foods. Overweight women with a BMI of 30 or above run a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.”
Dr.Birbala Rai, M.B.B.S., M.S. in Obstetrics & gynaecology, Senior Consultant at PSRI Hospital, New Delhi
Seasonal Pregnancy Care
Summer – In summers, make it a point to run your wrists under a cold tap of water as it will help in cooling your pulse points. You could also apply mehendi on your head, as it has a great cooling effects, packed with hair conditioning properties. You could also apply cold slices of bottle gourd under your feet or fuller’s earth and sandalwood powder on your neck and face to prevent you from prickly heat.
Monsoon –During monsoon, be wary of eating spinach, cauliflower and cabbage as they might have presence of worms, dust and mud. If you must consume them, do so only after blanching them thoroughly by salt water. Have seasonal fruits, like papaya, pears, plums and peaches. Avoid over cooking or deep frying foods as it can interfere with the digestive efficacy of the body.
Winter – Keep Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, at distance. This is nothing but a form of depression that might be caused due to a decreased level of sunlight in winter months. Its symptoms might last from November to March and can have a direct impact on pregnant mothers, both physically and emotionally. From tiredness to food cravings to muscle aches to hopelessness, depression, disinterest, anxiety, irritability and social withdrawal; SAD is just another name for winter blues. Treat them by eating sensibly, going out in the fresh air, meditating, reading upon positive scriptures, getting up early and not giving into lethargy for long.
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