Welcome to week 18 of pregnancy! Read about your baby’s development, changes you can expect in your body as you approach the halfway point of pregnancy, and helpful tips for an enjoyable pregnancy at week 18 and beyond.
This week, baby is about six inches long and weighs around five ounces. They are big enough and active enough that some mothers may notice movement from inside the womb. These sensations are often described as “flutters” or “tickles.”
Baby’s neurolgical system continues developing, now forming the myelin sheath around nerves, which will continue throughout the first year of baby’s life.
Considering finding out your child’s gender? Depending on your child’s position, their genitals, which are now fully developed, may be recognizable on an ultrasound (that is, if he they cooperate in giving the technician a good view!)
Changes in Your Body
As baby gains ounces, your uterus is growing fast as well. Some mothers can feel the top edge of the uterus an inch or two below the navel.
As your center of gravity shifts with your growing midsection, you may experience changes in posture that result in lower back pain. Many women find relief from pregnancy bands that provide support for the lower back and abdominals. Heating pads and physician-approved stretching and abdominal exercises may also provide relief.
You may still be experiencing tenderness in your breasts — a normal pregnancy symptom as hormonal changes occur. If you are planning on breastfeeding your child, it may be beneficial to meet ahead of time with a lactation counselor and locate a breastfeeding support group in your community.
Contrary to some information, the La Leche League International does not recommend doing any kind of pre-breastfeeding preparation to the breasts (like roughing up the nipples). However, gentle breast massage may relieve tenderness and help you to become comfortable with regular handling of your breasts.
Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 18
Although the second trimester of pregnancy is considered the most comfortable for many women, many moms still experience inconveniences like pregnancy congestion. A saline spray or neti pot can help relieve inflammation in the sinuses and help you to breathe comfortably, especially in the nighttime.
Fatigue is common during pregnancy, especially for women who have physically demanding jobs that require them to be active on their feet, or mothers who are caring for other children. Listen to your body’s cues for down time! Consider calling a friend or family member to assist you, or hiring a babysitter so that you can engage in a few minutes of rest. Ask your partner to take over some additional domestic duties during this time of additional demands on your body.
Week 18 Tips
Self care is crucial during pregnancy when physical and emotional changes may contribute to additional stress. Make time to engage in activities that help you to recharge. Take a walk or a swim. Enroll in a doctor-approved pregnancy yoga class (always avoid deep-knee bends), or find a practitioner who offers pregnancy massage and treat yourself to a relaxing experience that not only relieves muscle pain and stress, but is believed to boost immunity and contribute to feelings of well-being.
Many women enjoy relaxing with a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea. Several brands offer teas specifically formulated for pregnant mothers. Some, like red raspberry leaf, are even believed to reduce pregnancy complications. Other teas, like lemon or peppermint, are generally considered safe during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor or midwife before using any herbs or supplements while pregnant or nursing, then find a tea you enjoy.
*Featured image by Amy Vivio Photography