Ray-Zee

Everybody around you might be feeling a strong urge to overload you with pregnancy advice, especially around week 18. You know what? They don’t mean any harm but the constant involvement of others can make you feel overwhelmed. I would suggest not getting irritated or explaining your life choices to everyone. A “thank you, I will keep in mind” should save you from all the hassle and awkwardness.

Week 18 – Pregnancy Development, Symptoms, and More

Everybody around you might be feeling a strong urge to overload you with pregnancy advice, especially around week 18. You know what? They don’t mean any harm but the constant involvement of others can make you feel overwhelmed. I would suggest not getting irritated or explaining your life choices to everyone. A “thank you, I will keep in mind” should save you from all the hassle and awkwardness.

Plus, you might feel your baby’s first kicks this week, if you haven’t already. As your baby gets bigger the kicks will get stronger and more distinctive. Hence easier for you to feel and separate them from the all-time tummy grumbles.

How many months are 18 weeks?

At week 18, you are in your 4th month of pregnancy. This week is also the last lap of the 4th month. for most pregnancies, week 18 marks the mid of pregnancy as most babies are born right after week 36. Soon you will be entering the 5th month and experience even more pregnancy realities than before. Keep your self-care activities in check, just 5 more months or 22 weeks to go.

Baby Development

The baby is more active than ever. You will begin to feel the baby’s movements very soon if you haven’t already. The baby continues to master the survival skills and will also take up some new ones. Around week 18, your baby will be going through a major development in the brain and the nervous system region.

How big is the baby at week 18?

week 18 pregnancy

Your baby is as big as a bell pepper. The baby is growing rapidly and measures around 5.5-6.0 inches long and weighs about 6.5 ounces.

The brain is acquiring the senses

The nerve cells in the brain are getting advanced. These complex nerves will develop to serve as the senses of the baby. Amazingly, these newly found senses will also bring a new trend of sensation for the baby even in the womb. The little one will experience slight variations in the sense of touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight.

This development also coordinates well with the ears starting to pop out from the head. The baby will probably be able to hear your voice from now on. Similarly, the eyes have also found their rightful place as they begin to face forward and detect light.

The nervous system is developing

The baby’s nervous system is under rapid growth. You see, the nerves are covered with myelin. It is a substance that helps in speeding up the messages from one nerve cell to another. The more it gets developed, the more in-depth and complex connections are formed. Hence, your baby’s inner communication system gets better.

A unique identity is on the way

The baby has developed fingerprints. These fingerprints are permanent and will not change on their own. During this week, pads of fat will be accumulating on your baby’s fingertips and toes, making the fingerprints even more distinguished.

New skills and movements

The baby might start hiccupping this week. You will not be able to tell right now if the baby is having hiccups. But as the baby grows, you will surely know when the baby is hiccupping or moving.

The baby is also mastering swallowing, sucking, and yawning. The baby is very active in practicing all kinds of moves to prep and work their muscles. The baby is rolling, punching, kicking, and twisting. Also, your baby’s kicks are strong enough to give you a fluttering feeling whenever the baby kicks. The kicks and movements will get stronger, and very soon you will be able to feel all the strong movements, hiccups, kicks, and punches of your baby.

Baby belly at week 18

Your uterus is growing rapidly to accommodate your rapidly growing baby. At 18 weeks, your uterus is the size of a sweet potato. This week you might notice that your belly is feeling tighter and itchier. This might be because your uterus is moving up into the abdomen from your pelvic area. Your uterus should be sitting at about 1.5 inches below your belly button. See if you can feel it.

The tightening of your belly will be causing stretch marks. but don’t sweat over this. It is very natural for women to develop stretch marks when their belly stretches beyond its skin’s elasticity. On your next visit, ask your doctor if you can take collagen orally to improve your skin’s elasticity. This can prevent stretch marks and might also prevent tears during childbirth to some extent.

Using coconut oil and collagen creams on your belly will also help you prevent or decrease the severity of the stretch marks. You can find some affiliated products on amazon. 

Pregnancy Symptoms

You will be noticing changes in your body this week – other than your growing belly.  Have you recently noticed your shoe size is also growing, some dark patches or lines appear on your neck, thighs, or your belly? All these physical changes might put you off or shake your confidence but know that these are temporary. They will go away or fade during your post-natal period. Some women also notice a dark line running down straight to their belly button. It is also for the time being so, no worries. All these changes are because of the changes in hormones.

A few other symptoms you might experience this week are:

Swollen feet

The hormones which relax the pelvic points also cause the ligaments in your feet to loosen, due to which the bones in your feet will spread a little. This will also cause swelling on your feet. Hence scaling up that shoe size.

There’s nothing to worry about as long as the swelling doesn’t increase suddenly or is causing pain. Soak your feet for 10 minutes in cold water to put the swelling down. Shop for comfy shoes in a bigger size to keep your feet comfy.

Braxton hicks

Braxton hicks are very mild contractions that happen when the uterus tightens and hardens. They can start as early as week 18. If this is your first pregnancy, Braxton hicks can come across as real labor pain. These contractions are usually similar to mild period cramps. But you can set them apart as they are not regular. These may last 30 seconds to 2 minutes and should go away if you change your position.

Backaches

Uff! the backache during pregnancy is one of the most hated symptoms. But there is a very logical explanation for this as well. Your spine is trying to retain the center of gravity as it gets shifted by your growing uterus. The weight of the uterus is causing your lower back to come forward and your abdomen to push out.

Have you noticed your posture lately? You might be walking with your lower back pulled in and your abdomen pushed out. Your spine is under a lot of pressure. The hormones have also relaxed the ligaments and joints in your pelvic and spine which causes the posture shift and more pressure on your back.

However, to ease the backaches, try lying down with your feet elevated just a little with a pillow and use a footrest while sitting to keep pressure off of your back. Avoid standing for long hours and take warm showers to relax your body.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

The growing uterus puts a lot of pressure on your nerves and blood vessels. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when a nerve in your wrist gets compressed. This may lead to numbness and a tingly sensation all-around your hand or arm. Some women also experience pain and discomfort with numbness.

Avoid stressing your hands, if you work on a computer. Avoid using power tools or mowers which have high-frequency vibrations. The carpal tunnel syndrome will go away on its own. But if you think you might be experiencing it, then talk to your doctor on your next visit.

Itchy and pigmented skin

Your skin is stretching especially on your belly to cover your growing uterus. Week 18 may be the start of an itchy and dry abdomen. No matter how much you want to, avoid scratching your belly. Instead, put some kind of moisturizer to soothe your dry skin.

Stretch marks will be appearing this week or sometime soon and they will get worse if you do not moisturize your skin and don’t keep yourself hydrated.

You may also notice a darker color line running on your belly straight to your belly button. it is caused due to skin pigmentation and it’s called linea nigra, the funny name! It might get darker and a little broader as your belly grows. But not to worry, because and will fade away after childbirth.

Other symptoms that you might be experiencing throughout your first and second trimester might still be there like nasal congestion, heartburn, gas, gum problems, and constipation.

I can’t stress enough on how important it is to keep your body active through prenatal exercises and keep your body well-nourished for a healthier pre and postnatal journey.

Things to do this week

  1. Get bigger and comfy footwear
  2. Ask your doctor if you can take collagen for skin elasticity
  3. Exercise for at least 15 minutes and include some posture exercises to help with back pain
  4. Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water
  5. Visit your dentist if you have oral concerns

When to call a doctor

Alert the doctor if you experience any of these signs during your second trimester:

  1. Abnormal bleeding with severe pelvic cramps
  2. Vaginal discharge which is a foul odor, ill-colored (yellow, green, or brown), and accompanied by a rash
  3. Severe swelling in your face, ankles, hands, or feet
  4. Pelvic cramps that last more than 12 hours
  5. Vomiting or nausea more than 2-3 times a day

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