18th Week Pregnancy - Symptoms, Baby Development, Tips And Body Changes


Image : Shutterstock

Completed your 17 weeks? You are now in 18th week of pregnancy. Congratulations! Your baby is exercising and growing in the safety of your warm cosy womb, as you cope to adjust with the changes your body is making at a pace you find difficult to keep up with. The aching back is bothering you once again. Blame it on your uterus, which is shifting the centre of gravity of your body by pulling your lower back down and pushing your belly out. Though it is troublesome, this is much needed for the baby to grow and develop adequately. This is the time where your growing uterus will also start to interfere with your blood circulation. If you lay down on your back, the uterus may press against the veins at the back of your abdomen, hindering the free flow of blood. This could bring down your blood pressure, leading to other problems. So, get used to sleeping on your side until the D-Day, as this becomes the only option.

18 Weeks Pregnancy Symptoms and Changes In Your Body:

When you are 18 weeks pregnant, there is not much of a dramatic change in your body. The belly is slowly showing up, conveying and obvious message to the world around that you are pregnant. You may appear fuller overall than you were before the pregnancy and must have gained 3 -6 kg in weight, depending on your build. If for any reason you feel you are gaining more weight than you should, do not resort to measures of going on a crash diet or any other weight loss program without consulting your healthcare provider first. Most of the symptoms of 18 week pregnancy are related to your circulatory system. You may notice the following changes

  •  Swollen feet
  •  Swelling in hands
  •  Cramps in legs
  •  Low blood pressure
  •  Back ache
  •  Varicose veins
  •  Nose bleeds

The above changes during 18 weeks pregnancy are all connected to hindered blood circulation in your body. You may begin to see those first stretch marks appearing on your belly as your skin stretches to accommodate the growing uterus.

[ Read: 19 Weeks Pregnancy Symptoms ]

Since you are in the coolest period of your pregnancy at the moment, you may feel more energetic and enthusiastic to do things. Shopping and planning a nursery may get tough when your bump grows bigger; hence do all the running around now before you enter your third trimester.

Anomaly Scan:

You may be scheduled for an anomaly scan during this week or sometime soon. This scan allows you to have a closer and clearer look at your baby and the inside of your warm womb she has made her home. The sonographer or gynaecologist will show you the baby, placenta and other details which may pleasantly surprise you. Do not miss to share this very special experience with your partner, for whom it will be a special bonding moment with the baby. Remember, he cannot feel those movements like you do and hence, this will be one of the biggest events of your pregnancy for him so far.

  •  At this stage, you will see your baby in the scan clearly than before. You should bear in mind that this is not a gender scan and there is no sure way of telling the gender with anomaly scan. Many things can misguide you.
  •  Through the routine anomaly scan, the healthcare provider will be able to find out how well your baby is growing. The practitioner will check if your baby’s weight gain, growth and other things are normal in your womb or not. They will also check if the placenta and umbilical cord are in their proper positions, via the scan.
  •  Your bladder needs to be full for the scan to appear clearly on the screen. Drink enough water and other fluids and refrain from visiting the toilet even if you have the urge. The scan will also reveal if you are carrying twins.

If in case the scan detects any abnormality in the baby, it will be left to you and your partner to decide what you are going to do about it. Consult your gynaecologist to understand all the options that are possible with such a situation. Changes In Your Baby: Your baby will take a more human form than before. Get prepared to see the facial expressions she will be making from now on. There are old grandma tales told that these expressions will come back in the baby’s teen years, though this myth has no scientific backing to it. Her closed eyes are quite sensitive to the light that falls on your abdomen. You can see her react to it when you go for your scan. Here are some of the changes you will see in your baby

  •  Her face is lively with eyebrows and eyelashes.
  •  Her limbs are growing and now look appropriate with the rest of her body.
  •  The bones of your baby are hardened (ossified).
  •  The bones of her inner ear are hardened and her hearing has improved. She will respond to sounds more than before now.
  •  She can form fists with those tiny fingers and also clasp her hands together.
  •  The connection between the nerves and muscles is taking place, making her movements more prominent.
  •  A fatty layer known as myelin will coat the nerves, so that they will be able to pass messages to her body from the brain and vice versa.
  •  Her lungs are quite developed, but the oxygen still comes from her placenta.
  •  Her growth spurt is slowing down.
  •  She is doing her somersaults from time to time.
  •  She can cross her legs, bend her limbs and moves around a lot.

If it is a baby girl growing in your womb, then her fallopian tubes and uterus will get themselves in right position now.

Size of Your Baby:

Your baby is nearing half foot mark and may measure around 12.5-14 cm or 5-5.6 inches in length. She may weigh approximately 150 grams (5.29 ounces approx.) by the end of week 18. Though small in comparison to the outside world, she is big enough to make you feel her movements inside your womb.

Genital Development of Your Baby:

Knowing the sex of your baby can be very exciting for you and your partner. Some parents cannot wait until the child is born to know whether it is a boy or girl, whereas others do not want to spoil the fun by knowing the sex of the baby beforehand. You may get to know the sex of your baby during the sonogram which is performed around week 18, though it may not be very clear. Some countries like India do not reveal the sex as per the regulations protecting the interests of girl child.

The Sex Chromosomes:

Your baby’s gender is determined as soon as the fertilization of your ovum takes place. It is the 23rd pair of chromosomes that establishes the sex of the baby. Your egg contains two X chromosomes, while the lucky sperm that fertilized your egg will carry another X and a Y chromosome. The gender of the baby will depend on which chromosome from the father will combine with the female sex chromosome. If the X chromosome combines with another X chromosome the baby will be born as female, whereas if the X chromosome from mother combines with the Y chromosome of the father, then the baby will be born as male. Hence, know that the gender of your baby is decided when it was in the single cell stage.

Genital Changes:

Initially the internal and external genital structures of your baby will appear same, whether it is a boy or a girl. With the passing time the organs will begin to take different shapes. The following changes can be observed with maturity of the foetus:

  •  Gonads – they change into ovaries in female babies and testicles in male babies.
  •  Phallus – it will convert into clitoris in female babies and penis in male babies.
  •  Genital folds – It changes into labia in female babies and scrotum in male babies.

The changes largely depend on the presence of the hormone testosterone in the embryo. The male sex hormone is secreted if the Y chromosome is present in the embryo. This hormone aids in development of male sex organs. In the absence of testosterone, the baby will be chosen to be a female by default.

Knowing The Sex of Your Baby:

If you are one of those set of parents who cannot wait to know the gender of their baby, you will have to wait at least until 16 -18th week of your pregnancy to know for sure. Though the gender is determined quite early, it takes time to show on your baby. It is at week 6 that a small bud like organ known as genital tuber will appear on your baby. At this stage, you cannot differentiate the sex organ of a boy from that of a girl. The changes start to take place only after the 9th week of your pregnancy. By the time you cross the halfway mark of your pregnancy, the genitals will be completely formed in your baby. Many countries, like India, ban the sex determination test of the babies to prevent girl child infanticide.

[ Read: Ancient Chinese Gender Chart ]

Care and Tips for 18th Week Pregnancy:

The ‘Fun Activity’ for week 18 is to take the picture of your baby from the scan. It will be a treasure in coming years. 1. Frequent urination will continue to haunt you. Visit your friendly bathroom before you pick up the book, settle down in front of TV or lie down to rest for a while. 2. You may get leg cramps and pain in your lower limbs during your pregnancy. Instead of opting for medicines you can take care of them naturally with the following methods:

  •  Keep your legs elevated as much as possible.
  •  Include food rich in calcium and phosphorus in your diet.
  •  Keep moving your feet and legs to aid better blood circulation in the limbs.
  •  Do not cross your legs when you sit for long periods.
  •  Wear shoes or slippers that are comfortable for your feet.

[ Read: Is It Safe To Eat Pizza During Pregnancy ]

3. Backache is another discomfort troubling you during your pregnancy. The growing uterus, increased sized of your breasts and your changed gait are responsible for it. Take certain preventive measure to reduce this discomfort.

  •  Do not sit or sleep in faulty posture.
  •  Sit on chairs with proper support for your back.
  •  Wear bras that can support the extra weight of your breasts.
  •  Use as many pillows as you need to be comfortable when you sleep.
  •  Do not wear shoes with heels.

4. Here are some diet tips to take care of your health and other complaints like heartburn and constipation:

  •  Drink chamomile tea.
  •  Consume enough fibre in your diet.
  •  Drink plenty of plain water.
  •  Eating fresh apple after every meal daily and eating peppermint reduces heartburn.
  •  Keep away from fatty or heavy meals.
  •  Eat in smaller portions.
  •  Cut down your intake of refined sugar, cheese, coffee, oil and alcohol.
  •  Change your sleeping position.
  •  Do not opt for antacid or other medication at the drop of the hat.

Stretch marks may make their presence felt on your abdomen sometime soon. Rub some olive oil or good moisturizer to ease the itching due to the stretching skin and bring down the effects of stretch marks. Better still; ask your partner to do it for you.

[ Read: Pregnancy Due Date Calendar ]

Tips for Dad to be:

If your partner is going for a scan this week, be there with her. You will both enjoy watching your baby yawning, making facial expressions, throwing hiccups, sucking her thumb or performing somersaults if you get lucky. She may choose the time to lie down quietly to tease you for some more weeks. Watching your baby on the ultrasound screen can be the most exciting thing for you so far in this pregnancy. Talk to your partner and decide whether you want to know the sex of the baby before he/she is born. Take time to plan out your finances keeping in mind the oncoming expenses of the new arrival in your lives. Having a baby is surely going to make a huge difference to your budget. Working on proper strategies keeping in mind your future will help you and your partner will feel much more secure. Both of you can start working toward your goals together without any financial stress. Do not let a financial trouble spoil you happiness of being a parent. Enjoy the phases of pregnancy as they come, as every experience is perfect and unique in its own way! Hope you will take care and follow these tips when you are 18 weeks pregnant. Do share your feedback with us in the comment section below:

Recommended Articles:

Featured Image