Pregnancy
18 weeks pregnant

You’ll probably find you’re becoming more attached to your baby by the day

It’s easier now to think of your baby as a real person, especially if you see him on another scan around this time. He’s almost fully formed and the function of his organs is well advanced. You’ll be taking your maternal responsibilities very seriously, but don’t let anxieties build up. Talk over any worries you may have with your partner and your midwife; many pregnant women also seek comfort and advice from their own mothers.

 

1.The top of your uterus is now level with your belly button.

 

 

2.A little fat has started to cover the baby’s body but he still looks very skinny and his head appears too large for his fragile neck.

 

 

3.The ears have moved up from the jaw line to their final position on the side of the head; the eyes too are now in their final position, and face forwards.

 

 

4.At 19 weeks the average crown to rump length is 15.3cm (6in) and the average weight is 240g (8.5oz).

 

 

5.The eyes make random movements under the still-closed lids.

 

 

6.On the pads of the fingers the ridged pattern of the baby’s fingerprints, his personal badge of identity, is becoming apparent.

 

By now, your baby has grown up to be a size of a mango. Your little bundle of joys’ skin has a much more protective coating now, while you might be looking for some relief for your painful leg cramps. 

Your baby’s development

By the 19th week pf pregnancy, your baby’s sensory development has developed like anything! His or her brain has been designated special areas for hearing, vision, smell, touch and taste. Your baby’s brain develops millions of motor neurons by this stage. These neurons help the brain muscles to communicate, further translating into baby using involuntary and purposeful movements. By now, your little tot can move the head, suck thumb and other moves, which you might start to feel.

By now your baby is about 8.5 ounces big, measuring to about 6 inches, from head to rump. This would be about the size of heirloom tomato. As far as his or her arms and legs are concerned, they are in direct proportion with each other and even with the rest of the body by now.

Your baby’s kidneys continue to develop and he or she is now able to make urine. The baby’s scalp hair is also now gradually sprouting. Although the scalp hair is going to be white in colour and practically pigment-free as the colour of the hair is still yet to be determined. The most peculiar thing about this stage is that your baby has a protective coating all around, which is called as vernix caseosa. This layer is developing on his or her skin in order to prevent the amniotic fluid from pickling. This cheesy, varnish coating is a protective substance that now covers your fetus’ skin. If visually seen, it appears white, greasy and is made up of lanugo (that downy hair), dead skin cells and oil from your baby’s glands. Even though this waxy substance might appear too appealing, but it is an important aspect to protect your baby’s sensitive skin from the surrounding amniotic fluid. It is without this fluid that your baby would appear to be wrinkly at birth – imagine your baby being soaked in a bath for nine months and hence this substance is important your baby’s skin protection. This vernix is going to shed as soon as your delivery approaches. But having said that, please note that some babies might still be covered in the vernix, so you might get to look at your baby’s first anti-wrinkle cream.

Another major development taking place by the 19th week of pregnancy is that your baby’s brain develops at a rapid rate, while all other systems continue to grow.

And the developments just don’t stop here. This is because your baby is going to weigh way more than your placenta, but that doesn’t translate into much more body fat on your baby’s body. Although your baby is still small, your baby might have a kick of a few small movements.

Your baby’s skin is now losing its translucent look and is soon developing the pigment, which will determine its skin tone. Your tiny bundle of joys’ heart is developing at a phenomenal rate, which can be heard when your gynaecologist uses ultrasound to check for it.

Changes in you

By the 19th week of pregnancy, you would witness much more pronounced kicks by your baby. These kicks might even occasional take you by a surprise as they would happen in the most unexpected time! It is best not to use your growing belly as a laptop stand or a convenient tea holder. By now, you might evenbe able to identify your little angels’ tiny kicks or elbow jerks at times, which is a perfect time to get involved with your baby and feel more involved with the baby.

One of biggest changes you will witness during this time is that by now you would be feeling some heartburn or indigestion. Not only this, the spike in hormones might also lead to a constant feeling of being breathless. A condition that is often harmless and normal in pregnancy. Some expectant mothers also tend to feel a blurry vision, accompanied by water retention, which usually tends to become better after birth.

Apart from this, you might also feel extremely exhausted after a long, tiring day, resulting into backache and leg cramps. These leg cramps might get seriously problematic as they radiate up and down your calves during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. While these cramps are there during the day time, by night time these cramps might become all the more prominent. This might happen because your leg muscles are fatigued from carrying extra weight around or may be the blood vessels that carry blood to and fro from legs are compressed by the weight of growing uterus.

It is during this stage, that your belly will grow bigger from here, which as a result you might suffer from ache in lower abdomen or stabbing pain in abdomen. In all probability, this happens because of round ligament pain – a process in which ligaments that support your uterus are stretching to accommodate the growing weight. Even though there is nothing to be alarmed about this situation, calling your doctor, if the pain persists even when you are resting, should be done.

Lastly, you will also suffer from heavier breasts by this period as your body is getting prepared for enlarged milk-duct glands and increased amount of blood flow.

Nutrition for you

  • Make sensible friendship with fats: Who knew in any stage of your healthy pregnancy, you would need to consume more of fat for a heathier phase. This is the time when fats become an essential part of your baby’s growth and development. However, the trick lies in choosing the right amount of fats. Choose vegetable oil, lean meats, low-fat dairy, plant oils, nuts, legumes, seeds and unsaturated fats. Totally avoid saturated fats, such as processed foods, baked good and trans fats, such as margarines, processed foods like chips, crackers and cookies.
  • 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

  • Opt for a wide variety of exercises: Apart from kegels, perform exercises such as golfing, Pilates, walking, swimming, bowling, bicycling, aerobics, hogging, water aerobics, water exercises, yoga and light weight training. The key lies in spicing up the exercising routine!
  • How much weight should I gain now? If you were starting off on an average weight during the onset of your pregnancy, then you should have gained an average of 12 to 14 pounds of weight during this trimester, resulting in a totally of 25 to 25 pounds of weight all throughout the pregnancy. Depending upon whether you have initiated your pregnancy with an overweight or underweight issue, then your caregiver might advise you the right amount of weight you should be gaining by now.
  • How can I keep my weight gain on track? You can totally keep your weight gain on track by not going all over your food and eating for two. Instead, you should be focused on taking in a minimum of 340 extra calories a day – an ideal guideline on pregnancy weight gain. And yes, the total amount of calories might vary based upon your weight, activity level and if you are carrying twins or more than twins.

Common worries

  •  Increased changes in skin: By the 19th week of pregnancy, you might also experience a change in your skin texture and elasticity. Your palms might become red, all thanks to the extra estrogen. You might also suffer from darkened skin patches because of the temporary boost in pigment. Please note that when you have darker patches, especially around your upper lips, forehead or cheeks, also known as chlosma or ‘mask of pregnancy’, it is completely normal. Not only this, you might also experience some darkening of nipples, underarms, thighs and vulva, along with scars and freckles. This darkened line running right across your belly button right down to your pubic bone is known as lineanigra or dark line. Do not worry at all as these lines and marks will soon fade after delivery. You just make sure you aren’t getting exposed to direct sunlight for a longer period of time. Always wear a brimmed hat when outside in ski, use sunscreen and remember, using a little concealer never harmed anyone!
  • 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 relaxin at 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 19th 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.
  • An increased appetite might result in higher occurrences of constipation: Having a hard time staying away from kitchen and refrigerator in particular? You sure are tempted to food like there’s no tomorrow! Keep in mind to higher your intake of nutritious goodness and only occasionally indulge in sinful treats. Also eating a lot of junk and processed foods, that too in large quantities might result in constipation. Especially iron-rich foods can worsen your constipation. Do consult with your gynaecologist in order to get your digestive system back on track.
  • 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!

What do the experts suggest?

“During your 19th week of pregnancy and the weeks surrounding this time, your body continues to change and adapt to accommodate your baby’s current growth and future needs. Your body makes more blood. Your circulatory system expands and keeps blood pressure lower than normal. As a result, you might get dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated, or faint if you stand or rise too quickly. Around your 19th week of pregnancy, you might experience nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and headaches due to increased blood flow. You also might encounter tender or bleeding.  At 19 weeks pregnant, your lung capacity continues to increase. You might breathe faster or experience shortness of breath.

Natural remedies like ginger and peppermint may help you feel better. Eating smaller but more frequent meals may help ease those feelings of nausea as well. It is also important to stay hydrated now and throughout your pregnancy.”

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 –Monsoon is the time when you should be wearing covered flat boots and closed flats. This will help in managing your center of gravity, which is often changing during pregnancy and as the pregnancy progresses. Wipe your face with wet towel occasionally during monsoon as grime and dust tends to settle easily on your oily face. Bath twice a day and clean your face with rose water often.

Winter – Battle the dry skin and sensitive skin issues by not sticking yourself in front of heaters all day long. Use a good quality fragrant moisturise to keep your skin soft and luscious. Totally avoid hot baths and showers as they make your skin all the more prone to dryness; instead opt for warm showers followed with using a small amount of almond or avocado oil soon after you have finished bathing. Keep distance from petro-chemical creams and synthetic perfumes, especially propylene glycol as they can disturb the quality of your skin.

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