How Many Months Pregnant Are You At 18 Weeks?
At 18 weeks, you are in the second trimester and four-and-a-half months pregnant. Your energy levels can be slightly higher now, and you may start to feel your baby’s first moves.
How Big Is The Baby At 18 Weeks?
At 18 weeks, babies are as big as a bell pepper and usually measure around 5.6in (14.2cm) in length and weigh around 6.7oz (190g) (1). Your baby’s growth continues with the development of different parts of the body.
Baby’s Development At 18 Weeks
Here is how the baby’s body is developing in this week:
|Body parts||Developmental stage|
|Skin||Is wrinkled and coated with a waxy substance called vernix. Fine hair called lanugo is also visible.|
|Ear||Bones of the middle ear and nerve endings from the brain are developing, so your baby might begin hearing (2).|
|Eyes||The retina is developing. It can respond to a beam of light.|
|Bones||Begin to harden in the clavicles and legs.|
|Nerves||Gets covered with a tissue coating called myelin (3).|
|Fingers||Unique fingerprints are formed.|
|Lungs||Breathing passages are being developed to form the bronchial tree (4).|
|Nails||Finger and toenails are developed to the tip (5).|
|Mouth||Swallowing and sucking movements start. Some babies can also get hiccups.|
|Liver and pancreas||Produce secretions (6).|
|Genitals||Can be seen through an ultrasound scan.|
Fetal Movement In The 18th Week Of Pregnancy
The fetal movement can usually be felt between the 18th and 20th week (7). The movements might feel like a flutter, swish, or roll. Most women may not be able to identify the baby’s movements, also called quickening, and may mistake it for gas. As the baby grows, it becomes more active, and the movements inside are more prominent.
Symptoms You Will Experience In The 18th Week Of Pregnancy
The common pregnancy symptoms that you may experience during the 18th week are:
- Weight gain: An average weight gain of one to two pounds per week during the second trimester of pregnancy is considered safe, as recommended by the American Pregnancy Association (APA) (8). However, in case of women who have BMI less than 18.5 and greater than 24.9, the recommended weight gain rates usually range in between 0.5 to one pound.
|BMI||>18.5 (underweight)||18.5 – 24.9|
|25 – 29.9|
|30 and higher (obese)|
|Weight /week||1 ½ pound||1 pound||⅔ pound||½ pound|
- Frequent urination: The growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder, which increases the frequency of urination.
- Constipation: The progesterone hormone relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract. The food thus remains in the tract for a longer time so that maximum nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Due to less movement of the intestines, constipation may occur.
- Dizziness: The increasing size of the uterus compresses the blood vessels and limits the blood flow to the brain, causing fatigue or lightheadedness. Sometimes staying hungry for a long time can also contribute to lightheadedness. Make sure that you eat properly and drink water to keep the body hydrated.
- Backache: The growing uterus shifts the body’s center of gravity, exerting pressure on the lower back, causing backache.
- Stuffy nose: Hormonal changes can result in more blood flow to the mucous membranes, making them swell and soften, causing stuffy nose and congestion. Increased pressure on the veins in the nostrils can lead to nosebleeds.
- Leg cramps: The growing uterus causes compression of the blood vessels leading to leg cramps, usually experienced at night.
- Heartburn: The gastric fluids are pushed upwards to the esophagus as the stomach is pushed towards the diaphragm by the growing uterus.
- Trouble sleeping: With the backaches, hip pain, and leg cramps, you may have trouble sleeping. Using a pillow around the stomach and between the legs can offer some relief.
- Edema: Water retention in the body can cause swelling of the feet and hands.
- Varicose veins: Excess blood flow to the lower part of the body leads to swelling of the nerves in your legs, also called varicose veins.
Changes In The Body At 18 Weeks
- Enlarged breast: The breasts become swollen and tender, as the body prepares them for breastfeeding.
- Growing belly: The tummy protrudes, and you can feel the uterus between the pubic bone and the navel.
- Linea nigra: The line, going down from the naval to the pubis, gets darker due to pigmentation.
- Stretch marks: The growing uterus stretches the skin, creating stretch marks on the belly.
- Shinier hair: Change in hormonal levels reduces hair fall. The hair looks fuller and shinier.
- Mood swings, due to hormonal changes.
- Weird dreams, due to pregnancy-related fears and anticipations.
Is There Any Risk Of Miscarriage At 18 Weeks?
At the 18th week of pregnancy, miscarriage is rare but the chances cannot be overlooked.
- About 1 to 5% of pregnancy losses occur between the 13th and 19th week of gestation.
- There is a 24% chance of pregnancy loss in the second trimester because of the chromosomal abnormalities such as trisomies 13, 18, and 21, sex chromosome polysomies, and monosomy X (Turner syndrome).
- Structural abnormalities also cause pregnancy loss. It may be due to the amniotic band syndrome, neural tube defects, maternal exposure to teratogens or uncontrolled maternal diabetes at the time of conception.
- Cervical insufficiency with painless cervical dilation, maternal history of thrombosis, maternal hypertension, and physical abuse can also lead to miscarriage during the second trimester.
- Miscarriage can happen due to an infection such as bacterial vaginosis. If miscarriage occurs, you may need to stay longer in the hospital for a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure.
Other causes of miscarriage include:
- Immunity issues
- Maternal hormonal abnormalities
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Erratic lifestyle
Signs Of Miscarriage At 18 Weeks
Common symptoms of a miscarriage in this week are:
- Intense pain along with cramps.
- Vaginal bleeding. The intensity of bleeding can vary for different women.
- In some cases, a miscarriage may take place without any signs and can be confirmed only during an ultrasound scan. That is called a missed miscarriage.
When To Call The Doctor
If you experience the following symptoms then make sure to call the doctor right away (10):
- Fever (100.4 degrees or higher)
- Pelvic pain other than cramping
- Less urination or dark colored urine
- Severe vomiting
- Feeling unconscious
Your OB/GYN Visit
Your prenatal visit this week will include:
- Weight check
- Blood pressure
- Measure the height of the fundus
- Ultrasound scan: The second-trimester ultrasound screening, also called an anomaly scan, is done around this week. A level II sonogram may be offered to have a close look at the baby’s organ developments. It also gives information about the placental appearance and position, as well as the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus.
- Maternal serum screening (MSS test): It is a blood test done at 15 and 20 weeks +6 days. The second trimester MSS test helps in determining the risk of Down syndrome, Edward syndrome and neural tube defects like spina bifida in the fetus. It is a part of triple or quad screen test used to determine the risk of abnormalities in the fetus.
- Alpha-fetoprotein test: It determines the amount of alpha-fetoprotein in the mother’s blood. It is done to assess the risk of neural tube defects and chromosomal disorders in the fetus.
Tips To Follow
Here are a few tips to follow for a healthy pregnancy:
- Follow a good lifestyle and eat home cooked food.
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat small meals at regular intervals. Include grains (like cereal, bread, pasta, and rice), vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, meat, and beans in your meal.
- Engage in moderate physical activities like walking. This boosts your energy level.
- Quit smoking, illicit drugs, and drinking alcohol as it can affect the growth of the fetus.
- Maintain oral hygiene.
- Keep stress at bay.
- Wear loose, breathable clothes and comfortable slippers or shoes.
- Get enough rest.
- Do not take any medication without the doctor’s permission.
- Do not sit with legs crossed and avoid any faulty postures as it can cause a backache.
- Avoid fatty and oily foods to prevent heartburn.
- Consume more fiber to reduce constipation.
- If your work requires you to sit for a long time in one position, try to get up often and walk around a little every one hour.
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Research about the best childbirth classes in your area.
- Do not miss any of the appointments with the doctor.
- Book appointment with a dentist for an oral checkup.
- Start reading pregnancy books and engage in activities that keep you happy.
Tips For Dad-To-Be
Here’s what your partner can do:
- Share the responsibilities of the household chores.
- Create a pleasant environment at home.
- Accompany you to all the prenatal visits.
- Plan for maternal shopping.
- Give you a good neck and foot massage when you need one.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it normal not to feel movement at 18 weeks pregnant?
Some may feel their baby move inside their belly at 18 weeks. However, this is not the norm since many factors influence this feeling, including maternal body mass index and the amount of fluid in the placenta. Further, you are less likely to experience fetal movement until 20 weeks if it is your first pregnancy (10) (11).
2. Is it normal to have pains at 18 weeks pregnant?
Abdominal pain is expected during week 18 and can be caused by constipation, gassiness, and the ligaments stretching to make room for the fetus (12).
3. Can my baby feel it when I rub my belly at 18 weeks?
Babies generally do not respond when their mother rubs their belly at 18 weeks. Hence, it is unclear whether they can feel it at this stage. However, at 26 weeks, they actively move in response to their mother’s hand over her belly (13).
During the 18th week of your pregnancy, your baby is similar to the size of bell pepper. Their bones begin to harden, and you can also feel slight baby movements. In addition, the breasts are enlarged during this period, and signs of mood swings and anxiety are often felt. You must take proper care of yourself and the fetus to rule out the possibility of miscarriage. If you have any discomfort or notice signs of vaginal bleeding or severe vomiting, consult your doctor immediately for timely treatment.
- Fetal Development.
- Week 18.
- Week 18.
- Prenatal Summary.
- Pregnancy Week By Week.
- Fetal development.
- Your baby’s movements in pregnancy.
- Pregnancy Weight Gain.
- Warning signs during pregnancy.
- You and your baby at 19 weeks pregnant.
- Feeling your baby move during pregnancy.
- You and your baby at 18 weeks pregnant.
- Bonding with your baby during pregnancy.