You and Your Baby at Week 18 of Your Pregnancy

Your baby is the size of a bell pepper!

(10 minute read)

You and Your Baby at Week 18 of Your Pregnancy

Week 18

Week 18 of pregnancy marks the middle phase of the second trimester, a period often associated with new developments and experiences for both mother and baby.

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How Big is Baby at 18 Weeks?

Your baby is growing rapidly week by week. At 18 weeks, the foetus measures about 14.2 cm from crown to bottom and weighs about 190 grams, which is comparable to the size of a bell pepper.

Baby's movements become more pronounced at this stage. You might start to feel gentle flutters, which is your baby moving. Initially, these movements might be mistaken for gas or hunger pangs, but soon they become more distinct. This is because your baby is now wriggling around rather a lot.

In week 18, your baby's hearing, feeling, sucking and swallowing reflexes are developing.

Week 18 Fetus

Your Body at 18 Weeks

As the baby grows, your bump continues to expand, which can lead to the development of stretch marks. The uterus is roughly the size of a cantaloupe and can be felt just below the navel.

Breast changes continue as your body prepares for breastfeeding. The areolas around your nipples might darken due to hormonal changes, and the Montgomery glands (located in the areolas) become more prominent. You might also experience colostrum leaking from your breasts, which is a pre-milk substance.

You may experience changes in your skin. The 'pregnancy glow' is a result of increased blood flow and oil production.

Your body's blood volume increases significantly to support the growing foetus, which can lead to lowered blood pressure and occasional dizziness.

 

 


Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 18

Clumsiness: The bigger your belly gets, the clumsier you get!

Increase in Breast Size: Your breasts may have increased a size, which will be especially true if this is your first pregnancy.

Low blood pressure: This can make you feel extremely dizzy if you get up from the sofa too quickly.

A line has formed down your stomach: You may have noticed this; it is referred to as the "linea nigra" (which means "black line" in Latin) and is perfectly normal pigmentation in the skin, which will go away a few months after giving birth.

Pains at the sides of your bump: As the uterus grows, you may experience abdominal aches and pains. These are often due to the stretching of ligaments and muscles around the uterus.

Leg Cramps: These are common during this stage, likely due to changes in blood circulation and the additional weight of the growing uterus.

Digestive Issues: You might experience digestive problems like constipation, heartburn, and indigestion. These are often caused by the relaxation of muscles in the digestive tract and the pressure exerted by the expanding uterus.

Increased Appetite: Many expectant mothers notice an increase in appetite around the 18th week as the energy needs of the body rise.

Varicose Veins and Haemorrhoids: Increased blood volume and pressure on the pelvic veins can lead to varicose veins and haemorrhoids.

Emotional Challenges: Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to a range of emotional experiences, including mood swings, anxiety, and heightened emotions. Don't keep problems to yourself; be open with your partner or a health professional if necessary.

Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy at 18 Weeks

Healthy Diet

A balanced diet is crucial for both your health and the development of your baby. It's a good idea to eat a healthy diet which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is essential. Water helps in the formation of the amniotic fluid, digestion, and preventing urinary tract infections.

Prenatal Vitamins

Continued use of prenatal vitamins is important for providing essential nutrients like folic acid and iron. Folic acid (or folate) especially helps to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.

Gentle Exercise

Moderate exercise is beneficial for most pregnant women. Activities like walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga can help maintain fitness and alleviate some pregnancy symptoms, as well as provide a bit of a social life.

"Anomaly Scan"

You will be offered this scan from 18-20 weeks. At this scan, your baby will be looked at to make sure there is nothing unusual about his or her appearance, which can indicate a health condition.

You may also be able to find out the sex of your baby at this scan, if that is something you would like to know.

Embracing healthy habits, staying informed, and maintaining regular prenatal checkups are key to a healthy pregnancy. As always, it's important to consult with your doctor or midwife for support or if anything is worrying you.

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