18 Weeks Pregnant: Fetus, Size of Belly and Symptoms

You might see your symptoms of pregnancy and your appetite improve in Week 18. As the second trimester is a less stressful and risky period than the first or third, many moms feel good and forget to watch their weight gain because of their improved appetites. What should you watch out for in Week 18?

18 Weeks Pregnant: Size of belly, weight gain

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In Week 18 of pregnancy, the uterus is as big as an adult’s head. The fundal height is 16–21 cm. The hormones secreted by the placenta causes glucose (carbohydrates), the primary source of energy, to be sent to the fetus to support its growth.

Fats are the main source of energy for you during this period, so it’s no surprise that subcutaneous fats continue to accumulate directly under your skin. In the next three months, you will continue to gain weight. Monitor your physical condition and don’t neglect your body even when you think all is well.

In Week 18, you should aim to increase your weight by about 1 pound. From this week onward, the ideal weight gain for each month should be around 4 lbs (1.8 kg) – note that this differs accordingly to your lifestyle and built.

Symptoms: Becoming tired more easily

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You might feel more tired than usual this week. This is because your baby is growing at an astounding pace, which puts an extra burden on your heart, lungs and kidneys. Avoid carrying heavy things or staying on your feet for too long. When you feel weary, take a rest and be sure not to push yourself too hard.

Symptoms: Backaches and piles

As your belly becomes bigger, your pelvic bones will loosen to prepare the body for delivery. This can cause lower back pain. Try to stay mindful of your posture, and keep an eye on your weight gain. If you use a pelvic belt, make sure not to bind it too tightly.

When the uterus expands, this puts stress on the rectum and anus, causing many moms to suffer from hemorrhoids. If you have trouble sitting down or if you notice blood in your stools, talk to your doctor about it. There is nothing to be embarrassed about after all, it’s part and parcel of pregnancy.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of fetus in your belly

Week18 scan

Fetus: Length and weight

The fetus is approximately 13–18 cm long and weighs about 150–200 grams. Fats accumulate on your baby’s face. Baby is starting to look cuter now.

Fetus’ growth

  • Fats that protect the skin and cells start developing

  • If your baby is female, primitive eggs can now be found inside the uterus

  • The outer ear starts to look more like an ear

  • The neural circuit continues developing and Baby can feel external physical stimulations

  • Fingerprints continue to take shape

  • Lanugo (thin, downy hair) grows all over the body and head. Lanugo helps in keeping the vernix caseosa in place. (This is a white cheese-like substance that acts like a waterproof barrier on the baby’s skin.)

  • The inner ear is almost complete. Your baby becomes increasingly sensitive to noise from the outside world as their auditory sense become more and more developed

18 Weeks Pregnant: Counting movements in your belly

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Each fetal movement is a good sign that your baby is growing well. As pregnancy advances, fetal movements become a regular feature of each day. Some OB-GYNs will recommend that you start counting fetal movements from Week 28 onward, or once you enter the third trimester.

It might be difficult to keep count if your baby is not too active or if the fetal movements are too weak. If that is the case, counting the fetal movements in around Weeks 32 to Week 35 might help. Although fetal movements get smaller in around Weeks 32 to 35, you might feel each movement more acutely. This is because it’s getting crowded in the uterus and your baby has lesser room to move.

The method used to determine the baby’s well-being from movement is “10 movements in 2 hours.” The “10 movements in 2 hours” method is, simply put, counting the number of times your baby moves in a 2 hour window period. If you feel your baby moving 10 times each two-hour window of the day, it means that they are healthy. In other words, you should call your OB-GYN right away if your baby does not move at least 10 times during the two-hour window period.

Although you might not feel much fetal movement in Week 18, how about trying this method out right now? After all, practice makes perfect, and you will be glad that you practiced a little before Week 28 comes.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Prenatal care and exercise

Prenatal care  belly music

Baby’s nerves are developing and auditory senses are almost completely formed. So, talk to your baby, listen to music and try to engage your baby in conversation. Actively communicating with your baby is good for both of you, but there’s no need to go nuts about it. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do to take care of your baby. Keep your daily activities like work and chores at a pace that feels comfortable to you, and try to incorporate some light exercise like walking and stretching when you feel up to it.