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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.

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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    Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

    15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

    Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

    16. Talk about bullying.

    It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

    17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

    Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

    18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

    Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

    Depression in children is curable

    Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

    Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

    Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

    The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
    [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
    [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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