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Week 18 of pregnancy

This week 18 of pregnancy you might feel the baby moving if you haven’t already last week. The baby can now hear the sound around them. There’s a lot happening this week. Be sure in this time of worry and anxiety, you take time to unwind from the worries and your hectic schedule. 

You should start sleeping on the sides as the baby is now large enough to press the veins on the back if you sleep on your back. This may cause a reduction in the blood to your heart making you feel dizzy. It can be completely prevented by switching your sleeping position. Always remember Left is right. Sleeping on the left side is the best-recommended position.

What does week 18 of pregnancy look like?

At week 18, you are about 4 months pregnant. You are nearly half-way through the pregnancy. Your 18 weeks belly has expanded quickly in just a few weeks. You might feel the stretching pressure, it is all because of the growing baby and resulting in some possible symptoms.

Weight gain is recommended to be around 1 pound this week, although the total weight gain depends on the BMI and as suggested by your healthcare provider. Drastic weight gain can be a source of the problem. Weight loss is not recommended at any point in the pregnancy.

If your pregnant belly isn’t showing up, everything is okay. Everyone has a different body and the baby develops itself at its own pace. It also depends on pregnancy to pregnancy.

Fetal development at week 18 

The baby is about 5 and a half inches in length, almost the size of a cucumber, and weighs about 5 to 6 ounces. The baby is now gaining experience with senses, learning new movements every week.

  • The baby learns to yawn, along with hiccupping
  • The nervous system of the baby is maturing. The network of nerves is covered up with a substance called myelin. 
  • The brain is developing itself to identify the senses
  • The baby is practicing napping skills. 
  • The productive systems of the baby are developing

Related articles: Week 17 of pregnancy | Week 16 of pregnancy

What are the symptoms?

Swollen feet and hands

During pregnancy, the body collects excess fluid for you and your baby. The fluids tend to accumulate in ankles and knees due to gravity, making them swollen. Try keeping your feet elevated, whenever you are resting or lying in the bed. It helps to drain the fluid accumulated in the feet due to gravity. It can be an annoying symptom of pregnancy. If the swelling is more or bothersome, report to your doctor.

Leg cramps

This time, it is not the morning sickness that is keeping you awake at night. It is the jolts of pain that you tend to feel on your calves during your sleep. It is important to do calf stretches before you hop onto the bed.

Fetal movement

During week 18, most of the women tend to feel the movement of the baby in their stomach. For the first time, you would be sensing slight kicks called quickening. If you don’t feel it yet, it is okay. Many moms-to-be feel it in around week 20 or later.

Maintaining balance

As the belly bump increases, your body shape, and the gravity shifts. You may tend to have a hard time maintaining balance while walking or standing as it also adds changes to muscles and joints.

Dip in blood pressure

A lot of moms-to-be observe a dip in blood pressure, making them feel dizzy or even sometimes faint. It also means that your baby may not be getting enough blood supply to sustain. Do report such incidents to your doctor and keep a close monitor on your blood pressure. Don’t forget to have loads of water, it is the best treatment to low blood pressure.

Self-care tips

Treating the back pain

The hormones are making the muscles and ligaments relax, which is causing the back pain. Avoid any lifting of heavyweights and use a firm mattress or get a massage if it helps.

Join antenatal classes

It is a great way to prepare you for the birth of the baby. You can ask your healthcare provider to help you locate recommended antenatal classes.

Treating low blood pressure

If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, you can get up from your current position and avoid standing for long periods. Make sure that you get up from a lying position slowly, so that your body can get used to the change in position.

Week 18 of pregnancy

Special considerations and complications

Fetal echocardiogram

It is a special type of ultrasound of the baby’s heart. The soundwaves help to identify the heart functions and the blood flow. This ultrasound is done to check if the baby has or is prone to a congenital heart abnormality. The test is taken if –

  • Have another child with congenital heart abnormalities
  • Family history of congenital heart disease
  • Prior ultrasound indicating any problem
  • The genetic testing identifying heart disorder
  • Medication that is a threat to the baby
  • Infection or accidents triggering a heart-related issue for the baby

Cordocentesis

It is a prenatal test where the blood samples are taken from the umbilical vein. Basically we are taking a blood sample of the baby. It helps to test blood-related disorders like fetal anemia, thrombocytopenia, etc. It helps us detect any fetal infections or growth restriction. Since it is a more risky procedure, there are chances of fetal hemorrhage, infection, or even fetal loss. The chances are very low 1-2%.

Visit the doctor

During this week, you are most likely to have an ultrasound, not too long before you get to see your baby. An important ultrasound pregnancy is likely to occur between week 18 to 20.

  • Anatomy screening
  • Second-trimester ultrasound
  • Fetal anatomy scan

This ultrasound examines all the parts of the body to detect defects in any part of its body. It also looks over the placenta and umbilical cord. Your health provider would get to know the sex of the baby through ultrasound 

You might further be scheduled for prenatal testing this week

  • Quad screen blood testing between the weeks of 15 and 20
  • Amniocentesis, which is usually recommended between week 15 and 20

Important checklist for week 18 pregnancy

  • Switch the sleeping position
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Schedule tests appointments and dates
  • Prepare questions to be clarified
  • Maintain a pregnancy journal

Bottomline

This week, your baby is growing and getting stronger, you might be able to feel the kick inside your womb. You may get to see its actions through the ultrasound screen. With the chain of tests and cramps, don’t forget to take time for yourself and ease out in the process. 

Reference:

What do you think?

Written by Neetu Verma

I am a certified Nurse in General Nursing - Midwifery. I am currently fighting coronavirus in a government hospital in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India as a nurse on special duty. I have a special love for writing and write as and when time allows me to do so.

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