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The 18th week of pregnancy: what happens to the baby and mom

In the 18th obstetric week of pregnancy, it becomes difficult to hide the slightly rounded tummy. The center of gravity shifts, and the mother acquires the gait characteristic of all pregnant women.

On average, this is the time when moms first feel the movement of the baby. But this process is very individual and depends on many factors, such as: the number of the pregnancy, the size of the child, the mother’s complexion, etc. There is nothing radically new happening with the baby in the period of the 18th week  – development of the already-formed organs and tissues is ongoing.

The size and development of the fetus in the 18th week of pregnancy

Pregnancy week 18 sizeIn the eighteenth week of pregnancy, growth of the size of the child slows down. The height reaches about 14 cm (from the coccyx to the vertex), and weight stops at around 200 grams.

The fetus resembles an almost completely formed little person. His body becomes more proportional. The baby already has formed arms and legs, and there are even unique fingerprints on the fingers. The facial features are similar to a face of a newborn.

The baby’s behavior is more active. Although the baby is not small, there is still a lot of space in the womb, allowing him to roll, tumble, move arms and legs, cross them and wave them in different directions.

How does the fetus change in this term?

  • The eyes are not open yet, but they gain in light sensitivity. The baby is able to sense the difference between darkness and light.
  • Bone system is strengthening.
  • Hearing is developing. A child can already hear his mother, and sharp sounds can frighten him.
  • Fatty tissue is forming.
  • Nervous system is developing. In this period the mother’s calmness is especially important, because, to some extent, the personality of the future baby depends on it.
  • Reproductive system’s formation is coming to a conclusion. Precisely at this period the ultrasound can correctly determine the sex of the baby.
  • Immune system of the fetus is completing its development.
[attention type=yellow]At this time, the baby is already actively expressing emotions – frowns, smiles, yawns. And on the ultrasound, you can see him sucking his finger.[/attention]

Twins in the 18th week of pregnancy

In the period of the 18th week, the difference between single-baby and twin-baby pregnancies is hardly noticeable. The size of the babies is about 14 cm, the weight is only little bit lower – about 120-140 grams. Movements in twin-baby pregnancy can be felt in the same period of time as during the gestation of a single baby.

Difficulties may arise during an ultrasound – it’s a bit more difficult to determine the sex of twins rather than the sex of one child.

What’s going on with a mom in the 18th week of pregnancy

The size of the abdomen and weight gain

 Photos mother belly at 18 weeks of pregnancy

Since the baby is already quite large, the uterus is significantly increased in size by this time. Therefore, the belly is noticeably rounded, and it is rather difficult to hide. You can see in the photo above what bellies look like in the 18th week of pregnancy.

Although the beauty of a pregnant woman does not need to be concealed, the best clothing at this time is maternity clothing, or just loose unstructured dresses.

With the advancement of the long-awaited event, the mother in the 18th week gains anywhere from 3 to 5 kg. Although weight gain during this period is natural, your diet should be closely monitored. Too much weight gain can negatively affect both the process of childbirth and the health of the baby. In addition, it will be significantly more difficult to return to normal weight after childbirth.

Sensations, movements, pain in the 18th week of pregnancy

Mother at 18 weeks of pregnancyOne of the most pleasant news at this time is that toxemia has ended. Breasts have stopped hurting, but colostrum may already appear.

First-time pregnant women rarely feel the fetal movements in the period of the 18 week of pregnancy, confusing them with gases. But the majority of multiparous women at this time are already able to feel the movement of the fetus.

Because of the shifting of the center of gravity in the 18th week the pregnant women may complain of lower back pain. They can ease it by wearing special bandages and massaging the lower back.

Often, due to lower blood pressure women experience dizziness when suddenly standing up or turning the head.

As the uterus increased in size, the rest of the organs had to make a bit more room. Therefore, companions of pregnancy at this time may be:

  • frequent urination;
  • stool problems – constipation;
  • hyperacidity, heartburn.

The bladder must be emptied as needed, otherwise there is a risk of infection in the urogenital system of the mother, which will have a negative impact on the child. Mother’s diet should be carefully monitored to avoid constipation and heartburn.

Abdominal pain, radiating into the groin, when rising from a chair or bed, and which goes away quickly, should not cause anxiety. It is not dangerous and is caused by pressure of the increased uterus.

[attention type=red]If a woman is experiencing nagging, aching, sharp, intense pain in the abdomen it’s necessary to sound an alarm. Pain may be caused uterine hypertonus. In this case, it is best to consult your obstetrician- gynecologist. If the pain is accompanied by bloody discharge immediately consult a doctor, because there is a risk of an abortion.[/attention]

Possible discharge

Normally, discharge in the 18th week of pregnancy happens to be light, milky, homogeneous in consistency and without a pronounced odor. But because of a large amount of progesterone produced by the body, the volume of genital discharge may increase significantly. This is nature’s way of providing protection for the baby from various microorganisms.

Changes in the nature of discharge is a serious reason to see a doctor. Increased tone of the uterus or cervical erosion may be the cause of brown, pink or bloody discharge (if discharge happens after a pelvic exam or sexual intercourse).

The manifestation of greenish, gray, thick discharge, accompanied by itching, burning and discomfort indicates the beginning of vaginal candidiasis. Before starting treatment it is necessary to consult a gynecologist. And for the prevention of vaginal candidiasis it’s better to refuse eating pastry and sweets, which will simultaneously have a positive impact on weight gain.

More about discharge…

Psychological condition

The psychological condition of mothers at 18 weeks of pregnancyDuring this period, women become much calmer, because they get used to the idea of pregnancy; their previous fears and anxieties are gone, and exhausting toxemia is behind them. Sudden mood swings are fading.

While many women in the first trimester feel sad and regretful about lost carefree times, in the second trimester they fear for the health of the baby.

At this time, the woman should be nervous as little as possible, because her psychological condition is transferred to the child and affects his future personality. It is best to find a pleasant hobby, which will divert attention and calm you down. 

Analyses, examinations and ultrasound in the 18th week of pregnancy

Photo fetal ultrasound at 18 weeks of pregnancy

At about 18-22 weeks a woman needs to go through a second screening. During the ultrasound, you will be able to see the gender of the baby, if it turns sideways. When conducting 2D and 3D screenings, prospective parents will be able to see the baby is yawn or rub his eyes. Above, you can see photos of a fetal ultrasound in the 18th week of pregnancy.

But the second ultrasound is not just for mom and dad to admire the life of their child in the womb, but rather to identify possible birth defects or chromosomal disorders, and for the evaluation and diagnosis of fetal development.

On the ultrasound the doctor will evaluate the condition of the uterus, placenta and size compliance with the term of pregnancy. We invite you to watch a video of a fetal ultrasound in the 18th week of pregnancy.

In the 18th week of pregnancy there will be a 4th visit to the obstetrician-gynecologist, during which the following tests will be carried out:

  • weight control;
  • measurement of blood pressure;
  • measurement of abdominal circumference and height of the bottom of uterus.

In this period the woman should have the following analyses:

  • kidney and bladder diseases (urinalysis);
  • clinical analysis of blood to determine the presence of various diseases;
  • “triple test” – HCG, AFP, NE (if it has not been done at 16-17th weeks).

Possible abnormalities

If test results deviate from the norm, this may indicate the occurrence of cystitis, pielonefrite, as well as placenta previa.

Deviations from the norm during the “triple test” speak to possible development defects and fetal abnormalities.

This week, the probability of missed abortion is already very small, but there is still the risk of a miscarriage. Learn about the symptoms of a possible miscarriage.

Nutrition and exercise in the 18th week of pregnancy

Mom`s nutrition at 18 weeks of pregnancyThe mother’s diet during pregnancy should be balanced. Despite the fact that there are two of you – there is no need to eat for two. Although at this time the woman has increased appetite, she should carefully monitor her nutrition, because the extra weight will cause problems during delivery.

To avoid edema, it is necessary to control the amount of fluid intake and reduce the amount of consumed salt.

Weight training can be done if you were doing it before pregnancy. It is necessary to reduce the weight and increase the number of repetitions. The quality of training will not be reduced, and it will not harm the child. Keep in mind that excessive exercise is fraught with the loss of the fetus.

In the 18th week you can and should begin to do exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and vagina. For example, Kegel exercises. Also, it’s beneficial to do breathing exercises.

Before you perform any exercise – whether gymnastics, yoga or something else – it’s best to consult a doctor. More about exercises…

[attention type=red]Abdominal exercises during whole pregnancy are prohibited. The abdominal muscles are not in need of training – the baby is doing it for you.[/attention]

Skin care, selection of clothes

 Skin care at 18 weeks of pregnancyAt this time, serious skin problems should not yet arise. But do not wait for their appearance, it is much easier to prevent than to cure.

Now is the best time to work on the prevention of stretch marks. It is necessary to moisturize the skin with special creams containing vitamin E and cocoa butter.

Due to the significantly grown belly, the clothes that woman wore before pregnancy fit smaller. New clothes should be comfortable and conform to the dimensions of the rounded tummy. You can buy items one size larger, because from now on, the stomach will begin to increase by leaps and bounds. Whatever you buy now, will be too small a month later.

Where to go for relaxation

The 18th week (2nd term), is the perfect time to relax. The internal organs of the fetus have formed, and to the possibility of premature birth is still far.

When choosing a location for a holiday you should take into account some of these recommendations:

  • Stick to relaxing in a climate you are used to;
  • Do not tan in the sun or tanning beds;
  • Swimming in open waters is possible if there are no contraindications;
  • Any means of travel is fine – the main concern is convenience for the pregnant woman.

Sexual activity in the 18th week

Sexual relations in the 18 week of pregnancyIf the pregnancy is going well, then sex in this period is not only allowed, but also brings a lot of positive emotions.

Toxemia and malaise are over and nothing prevents you from resuming sexual activity. Naturally, some caution needs to be observed.

Avoid sex during pregnancy if there is:

  • increased tone of the uterus;
  • history of miscarriages;
  • infection in any of the partners;
  • low position of the placenta;
  • multiple pregnancy;
  • leakage of amniotic fluid.

Recommendations for future moms

  1. Watch your diet to prevent constipation and weight loss.
  2. Only wear comfortable well-fitting clothing.
  3. Use anti-stretch mark creams and skin moisturizers.
  4. Choose cotton underwear, no synthetics.
  5. Do not forget to visit an obstetrician-gynecologist and do the necessary tests.
  6. Get into the habit of sleeping on your side.
  7. Daily walks outside, engage in exercises for pregnant women.
  8. Avoid stress.
  9. Make time for your husband.
[attention type=red]Consult a doctor if you have pink, brown or bloody discharge, with  sudden pulling or sharp abdominal pain![/attention]

Video about the 18th week of pregnancy

In this video guide you can find additional information on how the pregnancy is going in the 18th week. A professional psychologist will provide some recommendations for pregnant women. An obstetrician-gynecologist will provide information on how to best spend your holiday, and will talk about the possibility of flying during pregnancy.

Regardless of the fact that there are common rules and guidelines, a pregnancy is a unique process and every one has its own way. Someone feels movement in the 18th week, while others only in the 20th. Some were tormented by toxemia throughout the pregnancy, and others were happy that they did not face this problem.

[attention type=yellow]Share your feelings, thoughts and concerns at this time. How do you cope with stress? From personal experience: Cross-stitching calmed me down. Although I did not previously have love of needlework. What new preferences have you had? Are you already preparing baby things or afraid of superstitions?[/attention]

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