Week 18 of Pregnancy
Your Baby in Week of 18 of Pregnancy
Your pregnancy back pain may have you tied up in knots (see below), but your baby’s getting ready to bust a move. At five and a half inches long and five ounces in weight, he now may be large enough for you to feel him twisting, rolling, kicking, and punching his way around the womb. Plus, he’s developing yawning and hiccupping skills (you may feel those soon, too!) and his own unique set of toe and fingerprints.
Learn more about your baby in week 18 and the fetal nervous system.
Your Body in Week 18 of Pregnancy
Oh, my aching back! If you’ve uttered those words more than once this week, here’s why: Your uterus, now about the size of a cantaloupe, is causing your body’s center of gravity to shift, pulling the lower back forward and pushing the abdomen out (so now everyone can see that you’re pregnant!). On top of all that, joint-loosening pregnancy hormones are wreaking havoc on your muscles and ligaments, adding up to one big ouch!
Learn more about your body in week 18 and your shifting posture.
Week 18 Pregnancy Tip: Heartburn
Forget the chili burrito with extra jalapeños — sometimes even a bite of toast will set your gut on fire these days. That’s the heartbreak of heartburn — an all-too-common symptom that can persist throughout your pregnancy. An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of Tums (though you might want to keep the pound of Tums handy too — especially because they’ll banish the burn while boosting your calcium intake). For starters, eat slowly and chew thoroughly (no eating lunch on the run or gobbling your dinner standing up), eat smaller meals and snacks rather than five-alarm gut bombs, sit upright for a few hours after eating (or as long as you can last without collapsing into bed), and sleep with your head elevated (it helps with the snoring anyway). And do skip anything on the menu with a picture of a flame next to it!
Learn more about eating well in the second trimester.
Week 18 Pregnancy Symptoms
Fetal movement: If you’ve noticed an unusual rumbling in your tummy these days, you may be starting to feel your baby’s movements in the womb! But don’t worry if you haven’t felt anything out of the ordinary — it may take a few more weeks for you to pinpoint those first kicks.
Flatulence: Finding it hard to contain the gas bubbles? Try to relax — tension can cause you to swallow air and add to the problem.
Varicose veins: If the varicose veins in your legs are starting to itch or ache, consider wearing support hose, which applies pressure to the legs and give blood a little upward push toward your heart. Put them on before you get out of bed in the morning to prevent the blood from pooling.
Leg cramps: As if it weren’t enough that your precious sleep is interrupted by trips to the bathroom to pee, now you may find yourself suddenly woken up during the night by shooting spasms in your calves. Experts aren’t entirely sure what causes them, but you can help fend them off by doing calf stretches before hitting the sack.
Bleeding gums: Those pesky pregnancy hormones cause mucous membranes in your body (including those in your mouth) to swell, which can mean inflamed, irritated, and bleeding gums. Continue to floss and brush regularly, but try not to be too aggressive in your technique since this can further aggravate sensitive gums.
Stretch marks: If the appearance of a new stretch mark has got you feeling down, here’s an activity that may cheer you up — get your partner to rub moisturizing lotion over your belly. And maybe even get him to give you a massage while he’s at it!
Mild swelling of ankles and feet: As your body tissues accumulate fluid (your pregnant body requires extra fluid to support you and your baby), you may notice swelling in your ankles and feet (fluid tends to pool there thanks to the law of gravity). Reduce water retention in your feet by avoiding standing or sitting for long periods — and try to keep your legs elevated when you can.
Skin, hair, and nail changes: While you may have been hoping for a pregnancy “glow,” you may have gotten eczema, redness, or acne instead. These skin conditions are perfectly normal during pregnancy (blame those hormones again), but if you choose to see a dermatologist, be sure to mention that you’re expecting. Some skin medications like Accutane and Retin-A are not safe during pregnancy.