Week 18 of Your Pregnancy
Now you are already in the 18th week of pregnancy. How quickly time passes! At this stage, most parents have gotten used to the fact that they will soon have offspring. In many cases, it will be your first baby. If you already have one or more children, some information will already be familiar to you. The last few weeks have been quite stressful. Some examinations were necessary, and the relatives were also informed about the pregnancy. Now there should be peace in the house again.
Your baby still has a lot of room for movement, although his extremities are increasing day by day, and thus his final proportions are becoming more and more obvious.
Here you can find all of our 2nd trimester articles:
The development of your baby in the 18th week of pregnancy
In the 18th week of pregnancy, the baby is between 4.7 and 5.5 inches long at crown-rump height and weighs 6.70 ounces (about the size of a potato). The space in the uterus also changes: the fetus is now exactly the same size or slightly larger than the placenta for the first time.
The umbilical cord is also changing its consistency – in the next few weeks it will become significantly longer, thicker and firmer in order to provide the baby with all the essentials of life in the best possible way. The growth in length during this week is concentrated mainly on the extremities – the baby’s body is getting closer and closer to its final proportions. The fat reserves of the fetus are also continuously replenished. The baby’s sexual organs are now fully developed.
The ossicles ossify more and more during this week so that it reacts to sounds in an increasingly differentiated way. In little girls, the vagina, uterus, and egg pieces are now in their final place.
The fetus’ chest rises and falls – breathing in and out amniotic fluid trains the breathing reflex and strengthens the lungs. In its waking phases, it uses the space in mom’s belly for intense romping, grabbing the umbilical cord, or playing with its own hands and feet.
However, the baby does not yet have a sleep-wake rhythm in the 18th week of gestation. It sleeps for around 20 hours throughout the day. During the day, it is soothed and lulled to sleep by the movements of the mother. When the mother moves less, the baby usually becomes active. From the 18th week of pregnancy, the doctor can see on the ultrasound image whether the baby’s heart has developed normally. The baby’s heart tones were first audible with a stethoscope last week.
In the 18th week, the uterus has grown to the size of a melon and is clearly palpable slightly below the navel. Due to its weight, the strain on the maternal ligaments also continues to increase.
Some women experience slight balance problems and dizziness during this week, as the uterus now shifts its position more forward. However, this change is usually coped with very quickly. The circulatory system has to transport a steadily increasing amount of blood through the vessels, which can lead to fluctuations in blood pressure and circulatory problems.
Typical of pregnancy is often too low blood pressure with feelings of dizziness and occasional bouts of weakness. However, these complaints usually subside quickly after a period of rest.
After the energy boost of the past few weeks, many pregnant women now feel a greater need for rest, which they should also fulfill in their daily lives. Heartburn can become more noticeable from now on. The pregnancy hormones loosen up all the tissues of the body, and the muscles of the esophagus are also affected. As the growing uterus pushes the internal organs up and against the stomach, it will happen more and more often that stomach acid rises into the esophagus.
Lying flat at night increases the discomfort. It is helpful if the head and back are slightly higher than the torso. Sometimes a nursing pillow can also make for a more comfortable sleep: simply placed between the legs, it relieves the stomach and back.
Several small meals a day relieve the digestive tract and ensure that the body gets the energy it needs at shorter intervals. The theme of “healthy nutrition” runs through the entire pregnancy. It must guarantee the optimal supply of mother and child with all vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, and of course, it should also be tasty and provide pleasure.
Due to the skeletal growth of the child, an adequate supply of calcium from the 18th week of pregnancy is even more important than before. In order for the trace element to be optimally utilized in the body and to ensure healthy bones and teeth, the diet must also contain sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the body and is found primarily in fish – in particularly high concentrations in fresh herring, for example – and chicken eggs. Dairy products or muesli mixtures fortified with vitamin D are also commercially available. A vitamin D deficiency (like a magnesium deficiency) often manifests itself in frequent calf cramps. In this case, a midwife or doctor will advise dietary supplements in the form of fish oil capsules.
However, this deficiency symptom is extremely rare – in addition to the intake of food, vitamin D is also formed in the human organism by sunlight. Just 15 minutes of sunshine a day is enough to supply our body with the minimum dose required. It is ideal for pregnant women to combine their daily time outdoors with a relaxing walk or a gentle endurance sport.
In the 18th week of pregnancy, sporting activities such as jogging, cycling, or Nordic walking are still possible without any problems. They contribute greatly to the physical and mental well-being of pregnant women.
18 weeks of pregnancy: Your symptoms
- Dizzy spells. Your heart is working 40 to 50 percent harder than before you became pregnant. Combined with pressure from the growing uterus on blood vessels, this can cause dizziness, especially if you stand up abruptly. Low blood sugar can also contribute to a light-headed feeling. Rest, lie on your side, or eat a piece of fruit. This will get your circulation going again, and you will soon feel better.
- Stinging in the abdomen. Now that you’re a few weeks pregnant, you may already be familiar with this pulling pain. Even at 18 weeks gestation, the maternal ligaments are under a lot of strain, and you may still experience stretching pain. However, if you feel that this twinge is getting more severe, you should definitely have it checked out by your gynecologist.
- Calf cramps. During pregnancy, you excrete more magnesium than usual. This means that cramps in the muscles or calf cramps can occur more easily. This can be counteracted by taking additional magnesium. But beware: taking magnesium, in turn, inhibits the absorption of iron. So if you should also take an iron supplement, do not take it together with the magnesium. It is best to leave an interval of three to four hours between doses.
Unfortunately, vaginal thrush (thrush) is a common problem during pregnancy. As soon as you feel the first signs, such as itching, redness or burning, you should consult your specialist. These basic measures can also prevent other vaginal infections: do not use alkaline soaps. Do not wear synthetic underwear, prefer cotton underwear. Wash your intimate area by hand rather than using a washcloth, as this can be a source of fungus. You can also use a wash mitt made of raw silk, which has antibacterial properties. If fungal infections occur repeatedly, you should have your partner treated as well.
Pregnancy gymnastics in the 18th week of pregnancy?
Go for it! Do you feel like doing pregnancy gymnastics? The tiredness phase is over in the second trimester, and exercise is just good for you now. Yoga, swimming, biking are no problem even when pregnant. If you feel like some light exercise, perfect! It’s also a great opportunity to meet other pregnant women and exchange ideas. But still, pay attention to your circulation. Due to the increased amount of blood that is now pumped through your body, you may experience balance problems or slight dizziness.
Hospital, birth center, or home birth?
Although birth may still seem a long way off for you, you’re almost halfway through your pregnancy. It’s time to start thinking about childbirth and choosing a place to give birth. More and more women now want to give birth at home again. However, in many places, it is difficult to find a midwife. It is best to discuss this topic with your doctor and midwife.
Parental leave: Who takes it and for how long?
Have you already thought about parental leave and parental allowance? If not, now is a good time to decide how you want to divide up the months. You can organize your parental leave individually. The possibilities are many but often depend on your own finances. During pregnancy, you have enough time to think about how you want to handle parental leave and whether you will be able to manage it. So don’t put it off for too long and mark it thickly on your pregnancy calendar!
FAQ -Eighteenth week of Pregnancy
Your baby is no longer curled up in your belly as before, it stretches and is very mobile. It has plenty of room in the womb to do somersaults. You may even be able to feel your baby’s movements for the first time.
In the 18th week of gestation, your baby is already busy doing gymnastics in the womb: sucking his thumb, kicking his legs and arms, or playing with the umbilical cord. You would think that in the 18th week of pregnancy you would already be able to feel this as baby movements.
On average, pregnant women gain up to 44 lbs during pregnancy. Many pregnant women get the first stretch marks in the 18th week. Support your skin with massage oils so that it can stretch well.