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10 Things You Should Know In 18th Week of Pregnancy

10 Things You Should Know In 18th Week of Pregnancy

At 18 weeks pregnant, you are almost halfway through your pregnancy. As your body constantly changes together with your baby, you have to adapt and make sure you know everything that is ahead of you during this time. See what you should know about the 18th week of your pregnancy below.

1. Changes in your body

By now your baby bump probably has probably grown and in the second trimester you should strive to gain three to four pounds a month. Also, when you’re 18 weeks pregnant, your baby will become more active which will lead to butterflies or gas bubbles you feel in your stomach. These bubbles or butterflies are your baby’s first movements that are also called “quickening.” Soon, your baby will start to produce those gentle kicks and stretches in your tummy.

2. Your growing baby

At this period of your pregnancy, the baby is about the size of a bell pepper. More precisely, it is approximately 5 ½ inches long, and it weighs about 7 ounces. Your baby develops something new throughout your pregnancy week by week. During this week, your baby will develop ears, and they will pop out from the head. Also, starting from this week, your baby will hear your voice, and it’s a great time to start talking to your growing belly.

Moreover, baby’s eyes will face forward now, and they’ll be able to detect light. Besides developing ears and improvements in eyes, your baby’s nervous system will improve in an 18th week, as well. Now, your baby’s nerves will be covered by the substance called myelin whose purpose is to transmit messages from one cell to another.

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During this week, you may undergo an ultrasound and if your baby cooperates the physician might be able to determine the little one’s gender.

3. Symptoms

If your pregnancy was smooth so far, some symptoms might be mild this week too. You may even feel your energy level increased, though some women can also feel fatigue. This varies from person to person. As you experience different symptoms during pregnancy week by week here is what you can expect in 18th week:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a common occurrence in many pregnant women. This syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in your wrist, and the outcome is numbness, tingling and pain in your hand or an entire arm. If you feel this pain, you’re not alone. 62% of women report having carpal tunnel syndrome. The good news is; this syndrome disappears after giving birth.
  • Various body aches – starting with week 18 you may experience various body aches in the second trimester of your pregnancy such as pain in the thigh, groin, or back. This happens due to changes in your body that occur with the growth of your baby. Your uterus starts expanding which causes body aches. Great way to relieve this is by asking your partner, husband, or family member and friend to give you a nice massage; also you can apply hot or cold compresses. Moreover, getting cramps in your legs in the nighttime is also quite common. In order to tackle this issue try stretching your legs before bed, or even do some exercises or just walk during the day.
  • Other symptoms – heartburn, gas, frequent urination or bloating may continue this week as well. You may also experience gum and nasal problems and dizziness.

4. Safe skin care

Before we move on to discuss various skin problems that you might experience in this period, we should first discuss the safe skin care and what are the best skin care products for pregnant women. When you are pregnant everything you do, eat, or even apply to your skin can have either positive or negative impact on your baby. Therefore, before purchasing various skin care products, make sure their ingredients won’t harm your unborn child.

Best to avoid

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  • Retinoids – this powerful substance can be found in face creams, body lotions, and moisturizers, etc. Usually, they are safe to use and beneficial for your skin. However, while you are pregnant, it would be better to stay away from them as some studies have revealed that higher levels of Vitamin A can harm your child.
  • Salicylic acid – is usually an ingredient in cleansers and toners. While oral consumption is extremely harmful to the child, applying it topically once or twice a day in the form of toner is considered safe. However, using facial peels that contain salicylic acid is a no-no as it is just as same as taking one more aspirin according to experts.

Safe to use

  • Soy – skin care products are used as an alternative to items that contain too many chemicals. Soy products are considered as safe to use but if you have darker skin or melasma, you should consider asking for your doctor’s advice.
  • Acne products – pregnancy is sometimes characterized by acne outbreaks. In order to make them disappear you can use over-the-counter cleansers or toners. As seen above, applying salicylic acid twice a day is considered as safe (as long as it’s not facial peel).
  • Hair removers – are considered safe as long as you follow directions.
  • Sunscreens – according to numerous experts, sunscreens (even those that contain products that penetrate the skin) are considered as safe to use.
  • Makeup – yes, you can use makeup during pregnancy too, as long as it doesn’t contain salicylic acid or retinoids.

Ideally, the best skin care products for pregnant women are the ones that do not contain alcohol, various chemicals, and substances. You should strive to use makeup and skin care products that are made of natural ingredients. Moreover, as it is recommended not to dye your hair during the pregnancy, you may consider henna bricks as they color your hair but don’t contain harmful chemicals.

5. Your changing skin during pregnancy

When you’re pregnant your skin changes too, and you may experience some problems in the 18th week. Some of them are:

  • Acne
  • The linea nigra – pregnancy stripes, especially at least one dark and vertical line that goes from your belly button all the way to the pubic area. Before you start worrying, you should know the line will start fading away once you give birth to your baby.
  • Skin tags – might appear on your torso, neck, armpits, etc. However, in order to tackle this issue, you will have to wait until the baby is born.
  • Heat rash, itching, redness, etc. – in order to prevent this from happening wear comfortable clothes made of natural materials like itching and rash often occur due to friction while wearing clothes that are too tight.

6. Home remedies for skin problems

While you’re pregnant, you’re trying to avoid products whose ingredients may harm your baby. Some home remedies can help treat your skin problems. For example:

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  • Pigmentation – you can solve this problem with aloe vera gel, mixing almond powder, saffron, and milk, or dipping lemon into turmeric. Regardless of the method all you have to do is to apply it and rinse it off in 10 minutes.
  • Stretch marks – again, aloe vera gel works perfectly for affected areas.
  • Dry skin – make your own massage oil with 10 drops of sandalwood and geranium oils, 5 drops of rose water and ylang-ylang oil, and combine them with 50ml of sesame oil and 10ml of wheat germ oil.

7. What to eat when 18 weeks pregnant

To keep a healthy weight and make sure your baby only gets healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals you have to be careful what you eat in the 18th week of your pregnancy too. Ideally, well-balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, dairy foods, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Before you assume that Omega-3 fatty acids will affect your baby’s health in a negative manner, you should know that these fatty acids are of extreme importance for the development of baby’s brain.

8. Beating pregnancy fatigue

While some women experience increased energy levels, there are also women who feel fatigue during the 18th week of pregnancy. Here is how to beat pregnancy fatigue:

  • Take a power nap
  • Go out for a walk
  • Adjust your schedule and make sure you’re not over-committed
  • Listen to music with faster beats
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make sure you eat foods rich in iron as fatigue is often result of iron deficiency
  • Exercise, there are a lot of classes and gyms with special pregnancy programs where you do exercise that will benefit you and your baby, etc.

9. Moisturizing baby bump

It is crucial to moisturize the baby bump. As your belly grows stretch marks will become more frequent and visible. Moisturizing the baby bump will reduce their intensity, and they will appear at a slower rate. Naturally, make sure you’re using a moisturizer that is safe for your baby.

10. Beauty Tips

Being 18 weeks, pregnant doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to enhancing your beauty. That is particularly important now because you already have that healthy, pregnancy glow. Many women avoid and completely abandon their beauty regimes mostly because they feel like they will harm their baby. Here are beauty tips you should use in 18th week or during pregnancy week by week to enhance your glowing look:

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  • Stay hydrated
  • Moisturize
  • Use soft shampoos that will be gentle to your scalp and prevent hair loss
  • Use sunscreen
  • Use coconut oil to nourish your skin (or almond oil and shea butter)
  • Use organic eye serum
  • Dab lavender oil on your wrists as a drug-free sleep aid.

Conclusion

With the advance of pregnancy week by week, your body changes along with your baby. You should make sure that in week 18 you eat healthy foods, stay energized and take a power nap. Also, don’t forget to take care of your skin and remember best skin care products for pregnant women are the ones that are made of natural ingredients and don’t contain retinoids.

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Evlin Symon

Evlin Symon is a health and wellness expert specialized in fitness, weight loss, pregnancy, nutrition and beauty.

The Truth Behind Keto Weight Loss: Does This Diet Plan Actually Work? 15 Most Effective and Nutritious Healthy Foods to Lose Weight Is Saturated Fat Bad for Your Health? (And How to Eat Healthy Fat) 15 of the Best Fruits for Weight Loss and How to Enjoy Them Daily 10 Things You Should Know In 18th Week of Pregnancy

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Published on March 5, 2020

How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

Tommy wants his toy back. His brother is playing with his favorite toy and he wants it back. Tommy starts to scream and is hitting his brother uncontrollably. He is three and these fits of rage and lack of self-control rear their ugly head daily. Their parents rush into the room and diffuse the situation. They are at a loss as to why Tommy has little to no self-control.

Is it just the terrible twos that are stretching beyond the twos? Or is there something else that can better explain his behavior?

Actually, Tommy, like many little tots, is still developing his executive functioning skills. These skills are imperative in helping us regulate our behaviors and exhibit self-control. Parents need to understand the role of executive functioning skills and how they can help their child develop these skills.

I will provide an explanation of these skills and tips in this article to help parents with this understanding.

What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive function is processes in the brain that help us function. Executive function helps with the execution of the variety of skills. These are a top 10 list of the skills associated with executive functioning:

  • Paying attention
  • Completion of a task from start to finish
  • Self-motivation
  • Self control, impulse control, and inhibition (the ability to control one’s actions and behaviors)
  • Organize and make decisions
  • Manage time properly for completion of tasks
  • Mental flexibility (being able to change directions with a task when needed)
  • Accurate self-assessment (able to look at one’s abilities and achievements objectively)
  • Memory and recall (ability to keep information and retrieve it when needed)
  • Task initiation (ability to dive into a project and get started)

People with low executive functioning skills have a harder time socializing, getting tasks completed, and controlling their basic impulses. There are a variety of problems and even diagnosable disorders associated with executive dysfunction.

For example, when a first grader with poor executive functioning skills wants the pink ball at recess, and another littler girl has the only pink ball, the little girl who wants the ball may hit the other child because her impulse is to do whatever it takes to get that ball.

She has not developed the skills to process the situation logically nor the ability to develop a plan to ask politely to share the ball. Her executive functioning skills are not developed enough so she reacts without thinking about the consequences. Her impulses take over.

The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University explains the role of executive function as follows:[1]

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.

We are not born with executive functioning skills. These skills are something we develop.

Good parenting methods can help with the development of these skills. They are important because the benefits of learning these skills can last for a lifetime. These skills are those we begin building early in life and we can continue building upon in childhood and into adulthood.

This building upon skills is called scaffolding. It is never too late to develop executive functioning skills, but the earlier they can begin developing the better off a person will be in handling life, as the skills build upon themselves.

The Importance of Executive Functioning Skills

Executive functioning skills affect us in every area of life. Here are some examples.

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Health

If a teenager doesn’t have good impulse control skills, then that individual may be more likely to succumb to peer pressure. Their lack of self control can affect their decision making and lead to drug addiction, alcohol abuse, or addiction to pornography.

The executive functioning skill of self-control has an effect on our food choices. If we lack self control with food, we are more likely to make poor food choices, based on impulses. Junk food can easily become the go-to food for an individual who lacks self-control with food.

Academic Success

Memory is one of the primary areas of executive functioning. If an individual has not developed good memory and recall skills, they will likely do poor in school.

Studying for exams, learning how to memorize and recall information are imperative to success in school. Planning skills and task management skills (i.e. completion of assignments) is also imperative to academic success.

Career Success

If someone has poor executive functioning skills in the area of planning and task execution, then career success will be limited.

When assigned a work project, the individual with poor planning skills may wait until the last minute to prepare their presentation. Their poor time management and planning skills can lead to workplace failures.

Social Relationships

When a child doesn’t have good executive functioning skills which includes self-control, they may fail to see the feelings of others in the moment.

When they lose at a game, they may sulk or cry. They may also yell at their playmates when they don’t get their way. Worse yet, they can act out violently, such as hitting and biting when someone has a toy that they want. Their ability to control their impulses is poor when they have not developed good executive functioning skills.

Romantic Relationships

The man who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer when it comes to physical romantic interactions may be someone who lacks impulse control. He may know right from wrong, but he has not learned how to control his impulses. This can obviously lead to major problems in any romantic relationship.

If you don’t want a son who rapes girls (or vice versa, because that happens too), then you need to instill more than a sense of right and wrong. They must also be taught self-control and to navigate their impulses to make good decisions in heated situations.

Ways to Help Your Child Develop Executive Functioning Skills

A great deal of executive functioning skill development occurs during childhood. How a child is raised will have a big impact on whether or not they have developed good executive functioning skills by adulthood.

1. Routines

Daily routines can help establish order and predictability. Children (and adults) benefit from routines that establish good daily habits. For example, in the morning some good habits to establish and expect from children are getting dressed, brushing their teeth, putting on their shoes, combing their hair and preparing their backpack.

Making their bed, picking up their room, and other chores are also good daily tasks to add to the routine if your child isn’t doing them already. If you wonder what kind of chores are age appropriate for your child, you can check out this posting from Focus on the Family. They have provided examples of age appropriate charts along with a free printable chore chart.

If your child has difficulty getting things done in the morning, then create a chart for them to check off their tasks as they complete them each morning. You can find charts online for purchase, such as major creative websites like Etsy. They have magnet boards that can be customized for tasks you want your child to do each morning. Amazon has a variety of these premade boards for sale.

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Just use the search terms “daily routine charts” or “morning routine charts” and you will find lots of options. If you are crafty you can easily make one yourself. Below is chart of one such product found on Amazon using the search terms I mentioned above.

    2. After School Homework Time

    Most kids do not come home from school and decide to get started on their homework. It would be great if they did! If your child does this, then you need to realize you have a unicorn. Most children need reminding about homework, especially in the early days when they first start receiving homework.

    It is helpful to set aside a specific time period after school when homework is to be completed. For example, you can set a rule that they must do it immediately after school, and they cannot use electronics or play until it is finished.

    Getting your child in the habit of doing their homework sooner than later helps with planning skills. Having a teenager who waits until 11pm on a Sunday night to start a book report that they have known about for a week is a bad habit.

    Don’t let your child become an out of control procrastinator. Start teaching them time management and planning skills early in life. You will reap the benefits too.

    Start helping them plan on getting homework done before they can play is a good policy. It also helps with developing self control, as they must get the work done before they can do something enjoyable. They learn to appreciate their electronics and free time more when they have accomplished a task (i.e. homework) to earn the right to play.

    3. Calendar/Agenda

    Get your child in the habit of using a calendar or agenda book at an early age. When I was in 6th grade, our school issued an agenda book to each student. I have since been using the organizational habits I learned from that time in my life. I will still record writing deadlines among other appointments in my book.

    Have your child record their assignments in their own agenda book. Putting major assignments on a calendar is also helpful.

    Using a calendar or agenda book can help with establishing planning skills. If they look at their calendar in the morning and see that they have their term project due and basketball practice after school, they can go out the door with the completed project in hand along with clothes for practice. Helping your child prepare for their day, week, and month becomes easier when it is visible on a calendar.

    Do digital calendars work? Yes, but not as well as paper calendars. There is always a risk of losing things that are digital or having a dead phone. Having it on paper can also allow for a quick “month at a glace” viewing (if they have calendar that shows month to month like I do). Such a glace can provide quick reminders of what needs to get done in the near future or appointments that need preparation.

    4. Set Rules

    Rules are the backbone of the household function. If kids don’t know what time they are supposed to be home, what chores are expected, and when they should be going to bed, then they are not learning planning skills in the home.

    Kids need clearly defined rules. It doesn’t mean that they have to be strict or over the top rules. However, they need to be clearly conveyed to each member of the household. Putting them in writing will definitely make it clear.

    Setting clear rules such as no shoes in the house, no yelling indoors, no eating in the living room, etc. can help kids understand the parameters for their behavior inside the home. This helps them to develop self-control as they learn what is expected.

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    Broken rules should result in consequences (for example in our home it is usually loss of technology time or a time-out). Setting rules is setting expectations. This helps with children and their development of a variety of executive functioning skills including planning, organization, time management, paying attention, and self control.

    5. Consequences

    Consequences definitely help with the development of self-control. If your toddler learns that temper tantrums always lead to time outs, then they eventually stop with the tantrums because they realize they aren’t worth it.

    Consequences should be reasonable and age appropriate. For more details on this topic, you can check out my previously published article: How to Discipline a Child.

    6. Break Down Big Tasks

    Kids that have a hard time getting started on large projects or tasks simply feel overwhelmed and they freeze up. Help your child out by breaking down a larger task.

    For example, if they have a book report due next month then help them examine the steps involved. First would be writing the book, next writing the report, and finally turning in the report before the deadline. You can help them set the dates to get each of the tasks completed in a timely fashion. You can even go as far as helping them assign themselves specific chapters to read by certain dates. It helps them to see their big task as a series of small tasks that they can complete more easily and build upon.

    Breaking down big tasks can help with a child who has problems getting started on projects. It can also help them develop their planning, organization, and follow-through skills. These are all executive functioning skills that are wonderful to develop earlier in life than later.

    7. Memory Games and Play

    Playing games and allowing your child to play can help with the development of executive functioning skills. Memory is one of the top ten executive functioning skills.

    To help a child develop their memory, you can play matching games, such as the one actually called Memory. You can also play sorting games, hide and seek, and matching games. These types of activities can help with memory, recall, and the development of other executive function skills too (i.e. planning, organization, motivation).

    Teaching your child to sing songs from memory and play an instrument are also very helpful in developing executive functioning skills. Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child provides a resource list of fun activities you can do with your child to help them develop their executive functioning skills.[2]

    8. Motivate

    Internal motivation

    does not come automatically for all kids. Sometimes children need to have external motivation to get them down the path toward success. Once they feel success and enjoy their pursuits, they will learn to self motivate.

    To get them started you may need to help motivate them. Offering genuine praise for their success is one way to motivate. If you are motivating them away from bad decisions, you may need to use consequences or discipline. However, praise and rewards are always more motivating in the long run.

    9. Home Organization

    It is hard for a child to learn how to be organized, not lose their personal items, and keep on schedule if their home life is chaos. A home that is clutter filled, unkept, and where things are easily lost does not lend itself to helping a child develop good executive functioning skills.

    Some home organization methods that can help your child include having a specific place for backpacks, coats, and shoes to be placed when not being used. This will help with their routine, planning, and time management skills.

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    Having them participate in keeping a home in order helps with their development of executive functioning skills, as they are learning about organization, planning, task initiation, and task completion. Overall, the best benefits of an organized home are their development of time management skills and routine.

    10. Self Control Techniques

    Self control is an executive functioning skills that is imperative to life success. If you have a child who is still throwing temper tantrums in public at age 10 because they can’t control themselves, then you definitely have a problem.

    There should be consequences for lack of self control that is disruptive or damaging. For example, a child’s tantrums can result in loss of play time, or a child who steals a classmate’s lip gloss simply because they wanted it (lack of impulse control) will need to return it, apologize to the classmate, and will be grounded for a week. Whatever the situation may be, there should be an adequate consequence to match the failure to control their behaviors.

    Once children learn that their behaviors have consequences, they learn to control their behaviors better. A child who wants to go to the movies after church, but knows that they must be quiet during church for them to be allowed to go out with their friends, will likely be quiet during church so that they can get the desired result (movie with friends after church). Providing consequences in advance (or the potential for rewards like the example above) can help to promote self control in your child.

    Help to motivate your child by providing both rewards and consequences as fitting for the situation. Again, remember that rewards are always more effective for long term positive results and can help to create genuine motivation toward good behavior.

    11. Be the Example

    To teach your child skills that embody good executive skill functioning, you must be the example. For example, if you want your child to follow rules, then you should also follow the rules set forth for you (i.e. the laws). If you are a habitual speeder and you say things like “those speed limits are only suggestions,” you are essentially telling your child that rules and laws don’t matter. If you want children who follow rules, order, and the laws of society, then you must be a good example.

    If you want your child to not be late for school, then you should set the example for morning routines and leaving early to get to your destination. Your habits such as organizational skills, time management, following rules, planning skills, and completing tasks are being observed by your children on a daily basis. They learn just as much, if not more, through your actions than your words. “Actions speak louder than words” is a motto to live by.

    12. Teach Self-Evaluation Through Questions

    The ability to assess one’s own abilities and achievements (or lack thereof) is an executive functioning skill. If someone is weak at this skill, then they will be shocked when they fail at something.

    Help your child prepare for success and failure. If they fail at something, then ask them “what do you think you could do different next time?” If they can recognize areas that need to be improved, then their perception of the situation and the reality can become more closely aligned.

    If you tell your child “you deserved to win” every time that they lose, they are going to start believing you and they will see no wrong in themselves. You teach them to evaluate themselves by asking them questions.

    Below are some additional questions you can use with your children. Be sure to use a kind and inviting tone. If you sound sarcastic or harsh, your child is going to shut down to your questioning and it will not be productive. If you want a meaningful conversations, then use a tone that shows you care for them and are genuinely interested in their situation:

    • How do you think it went?
    • What could you do differently next time?
    • What is one thing that you could improve on before next time (next game, meet, test, etc.)?
    • What did you learn from your disappointment today (or loss or whatever happened)?
    • How are you feeling about your disappointment?
    • What did you learn from this experience?
    • What is something positive you can take away from the experience?
    • What do you think it will take for you to win next time (or pass the test or whatever the situation may be)?
    • What kind of plan do you need in place to take you to that next win?

    Final Thoughts

    Executive functioning skills are essential to human function. The weaker the executive functioning skills, the less successful a person is likely to become in life in all areas (except maybe sleep). Although routine and time management help with sleep too!

    Executive functioning skills are learned primarily in the home though a primary caregiver (usually the parent). How a child is raised (and treated), their home environment, and the behaviors (and example) of their primary caregiver play a huge role in developing executive functioning skills.

    Even if a child doesn’t develop them early in life, all hope is not lost. These skills can still be developed in late childhood and even into adulthood. Just do the best that you can do as a parent for your child now.

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    Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University: Executive Function & Self-Regulation
    [2] Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child: Executive Function Activities for 3- to 5-year-olds

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