18 Weeks Pregnant
18 Weeks Pregnant
It’s been 18 weeks since the official start date of your pregnancy, and 16 weeks since conception. Remember, pregnancy is counted since the first day of your last menstrual cycle.
A lot has happened in this time. Your body has experienced huge changes, your baby has developed all of its vital organs, and you’ve probably started making preparations for the arrival of your baby.
At 18 weeks pregnant, your baby is beginning to look and function more like a human. You may also have your mid-pregnancy-ultrasound this week. What should you expect? Read on to find out more about week 18 of pregnancy.
18 Weeks Pregnancy Symptoms
Signs of pregnancy at 18 weeks are likely to be more external than internal, as your body shape changes but your symptoms alleviate. Yet, it is still normal to experience some pregnancy symptoms in week 18. Here are the most common ones.
Swelling in the feet and ankles, or edema, is a common sign of pregnancy at week 18. Edema is the abnormal accumulation of fluids under the skin, and usually occurs around the feet and ankles during pregnancy. This is a result of the extra fluid requirements of your body, and it can be avoided by keeping your legs elevated whenever possible, and avoid standing for long periods of time.
Not only can the increase in fluids and blood flow cause edema, but it can also lead to more frequent nosebleeds. All of these extra fluids have an impact on the nasal passage, and can leave you feeling slightly stuffy and congested.
- Baby movements
At around 18 weeks pregnant, it is not unheard of for many mothers to start experiencing some noticeably kicks and movements inside their belly. These can range from tiny flutters to more definite kicks.
Many women experience headaches as one of the signs of pregnancy at 18 weeks. Hormonal changes cause this, and the best course of action to mitigate them is o stay hydrated and rest as frequently as possible.
- Varicose veins
The further you are into the pregnancy the bigger the risk of having varicose veins. It is completely normal to experience these veins during pregnancy and they are, usually, harmless and without health risks. Varicose veins are twisted, swollen veins that are blue and dark purple in colour. They usually appear around the pelvic and inner thigh regions.
- Increase in bodily fluids
You may notice more leukorrhea (vaginal discharge), sweat and mucus at this stage. The heightened supply of blood flow leads to this increase in bodily fluids, and it is a common pregnancy symptom during the second trimester.
Your Body at Week 18
At 18 weeks pregnant, your baby is already quite big and strong and has been growing rapidly. In coordination with your baby, your womb has also been rapidly expanding and it is likely that you will have some noticeable changes to your body shape.
As the womb can no longer be contained within the pelvis, it begins to grow out of it, leading to an extension in your belly – or baby bump. Baby bumps differ in size from woman-to-woman, meaning that there is no normal size that your belly should be at eighteen weeks pregnant.
Another possible noticeable sign at week 18 of pregnancy is the appearance of a dark vertical line on your abdomen. This is called the linea nigra (literally, “black line” in Latin) and is merely a result of skin pigmentation.
Baby Size at Week 18
Your baby is maturing very quickly and is now the size of an artichoke. Weighing around 150 grams and measuring around 13-15 centimetres, the fetus at 18 weeks is quite a hefty size, and it’s not surprising if you have started to notice some changes to your body shape from the outside.
Other baby developments at 18 weeks pregnant include the formation of fingerprints that make your baby unique. They will also start producing a protective insulation called myelin, that form around the nerves. Your baby’s reflexes are improving every week, and they should now be able to hear, swallow, grip, and suck. As the baby’s muscles are strengthening, you may also notice the first movements inside your womb.
Week 18 Pregnant Ultrasound
Most women have their second pregnancy scan between weeks 18 and 21, meaning that you could have yours scheduled for this week. This is an important ultrasound for many people, as they could find out the gender of their baby. This scan is also referred to as the dating scan because a more accurate due date is confirmed by the medical practitioner.
Many women begin to feel their baby move for the first time at around this stage of the pregnancy, and you could feel some gentle kicks as your baby starts to practice using its muscles.
If you’ve scheduled your mid-pregnancy ultrasound at week 18, you can expect some big news. This is the week that you could find out the sex of your baby, and you could also have a more accurate expected due date.
You shouldn’t feel majorly different from the previous weeks. You may still be experiencing some of the early signs of pregnancy at 18 weeks, but a lot of the harsher symptoms will have subsided.
Now that your baby is the size of an artichoke, your belly will look a bit bigger than at the start of the pregnancy. Be prepared for some rapid growth and changes in body shape as you progress throughout the second trimester.
Tips for Week 18 of Pregnancy
- Make plans for a nursery
Whether you’ve found out the sex of your baby or not, you may want to start making preparations for a nursery within your home. This can be a cathartic experience for parents and help grow the attachment that you feel towards the baby inside your womb.
- Sleep on your side
If you are someone who normally sleeps on their back, you may want to start sleeping on your back at week 18 of the pregnancy. Your baby might be too big now, leading to pressure on veins at the back of your abdomen. Sleeping on your side is a good way to avoid this issue.