Almost halfway through your pregnancy, the 18th week might suddenly make you realize that half the journey is almost over and the second half will also be done in no time. Does it occur to you that you are still unprepared for the rest of the journey and you should know more? If you have that feeling stuck in your heart, feel free to read through this article that aims to answer all your queries regarding the 18th week of pregnancy. We believe in offering you ways and means to survive each week of pregnancy with ease. We will discuss at length about a number of new symptoms that you were unaware of and will also find solutions for the nagging issues that keep cropping up now and then in pregnancy.
Your Baby At 18 Weeks
With a Crown Rump length of 5 and a half inches and also weighing at 5 and a half ounces, your baby might slightly resemble a boneless chicken breast or a bell pepper this week. It might sound weird to compare your baby with food but that is exactly how you can measure the dimensions. Your baby is highly active by now and is practicing all the moves that could soon give you the sensation of quickening. This is why you can expect the little one inside to twist, turn, kick and punch its way around in the uterus.
What else has your baby mastered? The brand new skill of yawning is what you could look forward to this week. You can only imagine how adorable it would look while yawning but when you feel those hiccups every often, the fact that there is a real human being nurtured within you, will dig deeper. If you happen to have an ultrasound this week, you might even be able to locate a tiny yawn and frequent hiccups on the screen!
What Else Is Maturing?
At 18 weeks, your baby’s nervous system is maturing rapidly and although you will not be able to sense it, it is how things proceed in a normal pregnancy. What used to simple nerve connections will gradually develop into a complex network. Currently, your baby’s nerves are covered with myelin that helps nerve cells connect with each other.
Your baby’s sense of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing are also developing in the brain. Now that the nervous system is growing at a rapid pace, you will be amazed to know that your baby is becoming more conscious of the world outside. It could probably feel light from outside the womb till now but by this week, he or she will be able to hear your voice clearly from outside. While you would fall in love with the tiny hiccups of the little one inside, your baby will feel the same when you are hiccupping.
Your Baby’s Gender
By this week, an ultrasound will be able to identify your baby’s gender, especially if he is a boy because his genitals will be noticeable by now. If you are having a girl, her fallopian tube and uterus have formed by now.
Your Body At 18 Weeks
If you have had a rather uneventful second trimester, there is every possibility that the rest of it would also follow a normal path. While you could feel fatigued at times, your energy levels will be on the higher side and you might even want to sign up for a number of things at the same time! However, it is important to remember that you are nurturing a human baby inside your womb and that is not an easy task. Giving yourself adequate rest is important throughout pregnancy.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Have you been experiencing a tingling sensation that begins at your wrist and runs all through your arm making it feel numb and painful? This is a common sensation in pregnancy and is called the carpal tunnel syndrome. More than 60% women experience this pain. It is caused by a compressed nerve in the wrist but the good news is that it disappears after delivery.
Acne Outbreaks Or Glowing Skin?
While some of you are flaunting that rosy glow on your cheeks this week, some others are probably hiding themselves behind closed doors because acne outbreaks have made their lives miserable. Both the symptoms are normal and there are several ways to live with them both. Having acne on your skin is not the end of the world and you can assure yourself of that. Couple of regular skin care routines can help keep the outbursts at bay and also clear your skin to some extent.
If regular cleansing and toning does not help much with acne, you can use over to counter medication like salicylic acid1 or other medicated cleansers and toners, after consultation with your doctor.
Always remember to buy or use products that are not too harsh or loaded with chemicals. Skin in pregnancy tends to be sensitive and if you are prone to acne, you should be even more careful about using skin products. Try and avoid skin products that contain retinoids because while they are beneficial for your skin, elevated levels of Vitamin A could be harmful for your unborn baby. Avoid facial peels containing salicylic acid because it is extremely harmful for the baby.
What are the products that are safe to use? Hair removers of all kinds, sunscreens, soy based skin care products etc. are all quite safe to use because they do not contain alcohol or harmful substances that might penetrate the skin without your knowledge.
Avoid coloring your hair in pregnancy because hair color tends to get absorbed by the scalp and you are also directly inhaling the toxic fumes, especially if your color is ammonia-based. Opt for safer alternatives like henna that color your hair without containing harmful chemicals.
If you have dry skin, try aloe vera gel directly from the plant. It soothes skin and hydrates it instantly. You might also have pigmentation in pregnancy and there are a number of ways to deal with it.
What Are The Other Changes That Your Skin Is Undergoing?
You can now see the linea nigra prominently on your belly that starts from the belly button and goes all the way down to the pubic area. For some women, this dark line travels up to the breast bone too. This line grows darker all through pregnancy and fades away after your delivery.
If you have been particularly annoyed with the number of skin tags that are appearing on your skin, wait till delivery to get rid of them. Skin tags can occur anywhere on your body but they tend to be come up on the torso, armpits and neck more often.
Your skin is definitely more sensitive in pregnancy and by the 18th week you will realize that you are more prone to heat rash and allergies than ever before. The only way out of this sensitivity is to wear loose and comfortable clothing that will let your skin breathe. The tighter the clothes and the harsher the fabric, the more are your chances of getting an unexplained skin rash.
Are Your Gums Bleeding?
Apart from your skin, your gums will also show signs of sensitivity in pregnancy and although the symptoms are fairly manageable, you should know the ways to tackle these problems, if they do happen to you.
Remember how the pregnancy hormones make your mucus membranes swell up and you often end up with nasal congestion? The same happens with your gums. They become prone to inflammation, redness and tend to bleed while brushing and otherwise. Pregnancy hormones also leave your teeth and gums exposed to decay because they become excellent breeding grounds for plaque and bacteria. A lot of pregnant women suffer from toothache, gingivitis and other dental issues in pregnancy. One important thing to remember is that proper oral hygiene is quintessential to the well-being of your baby.
What Is Gingivitis And How Can You Care For Your Teeth With It?
Some amount of inflammation and soreness is common during pregnancy but if your gums are always paining and are so tender that you are having difficulty while eating food, you could possibly have gingivitis. In itself, gingivitis is not much of an issue but if it goes on to become more sore and painful, it could lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious condition that could heighten your chances of having a premature or low-weight baby.
Gingivitis2 needs to be addressed early. Good oral hygiene that includes brushing twice or thrice a day, flossing regularly and using an antiseptic mouthwash once a day can keep the annoying problems away. If you still find issues with your teeth and gums, visit a dentist to rule out underlying problems. It is recommended that a pregnant woman must visit the dentist regularly for proper evaluation of the dental condition.
It is advisable to stay away from sugary sweets and sugar-laden desserts because they create a more comfortable place for bacteria to breed and add to all the dental problems that you might have been experiencing lately. While it is impossible to abstain from sweets all through pregnancy, you can at least ensure that you follow proper oral care after you have had sweets.
Are Leg Cramps Bothering You Every Night?
Are you confused because your friends swear by the second trimester’s innate ability to help you sleep for longer at night but you can’t seem to take a nap without leg cramps waking you up often? Leg cramps can be quite painful, especially the ones at night and can leave your legs feeling sore for a couple of days after. These spasms run up and down your calves but there is no real reason that can be attributed to their occurrence. Whether it is because you are carrying around more weight or your leg nerves are compressed or there is some deficiency in your diet; there can be one and many reasons but there is not enough evidence to talk about any one.
Have you ever wondered why leg cramps hit you just when you are curling up for a good night’s sleep? This is because you are fatigued and fluid accumulation in your body is at its peak during nighttime, which is reason enough for these spasms to affect you.
There are ways in which you can avoid these cramps from bothering you. As always, it is recommended to stay as active as possible through the day and stretch well before hitting the bed. Stretching eases the stiff joints and ligaments and allows your body to circulate the blood in a more effective manner. Although this is not a sure shot way of keeping cramps away but it would help to a good extent.
There are support hoses and stockings available for pregnant women and they can also help with proper blood circulation. Diet is a significant factor in deciding your tendency to end up with leg cramps. Including more potassium and magnesium is recommended, which is why you should add those bananas to your morning cereal even if you are not too fond of them. If you love yoghurt, then you can have all the extra calcium as you want to without having to load yourself up with milk every night.
What Should You Do When You Have A Leg Cramp?
Leg cramps can feel scary, especially if you are alone at home and you are almost crippled for some time. How can you ease your pain without calling 911?
- The thumb rule is to slowly straighten out your leg and try flexing your ankles and toes a number of times before the stiffness eases away. This might feel painful but will eventually help to do away with the pain.
- If you feel good by massaging your legs gently, you could do it but if that does not feel good, try avoiding it because a wrong massage could worsen your situation.
- Hot or cold compress work well and you could try alternating them to relieve the pain and stiffness.
- If none of these work, call out for help immediately and avoid standing up r walking around till you have been attended by a doctor.
What Is Edema?
Have you recently noticed that your baby bump is not the only thing growing rapidly? If there is a slight swelling in other parts of your body, you could probably have Edema and although some women start experiencing it after 20 weeks, you could have this issue as early as the 18th week. The swelling is mostly visible on the legs and feet. In pregnancy, the volume of blood production and body fluids is higher than normal to ensure proper nurturing of your baby. This leads to swelling in your body at pressure points and although it could be annoying, but there is generally no harm that it could cause to you or your baby. However, if the swelling is accelerated, you need to call your doctor right away to rule out other problems like preeclampsia. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are the symptoms that signify the onset of preeclampsia and care should be taken to address these signs immediately.
How Can You Keep Edema Away?
While you will still be prone to a couple of episodes of Edema, there are a few ways in which you can avoid the more painful and annoying episodes. Listed below are some tips to deal with it:
- Always keep your feet propped up while sleeping. This is to ensure that the blood does not pool at your feet and worsen the swelling.
- Sleeping on your left side is beneficial during pregnancy because it helps your kidneys to eliminate wastes more effectively and prevent swelling in the body.
- Tight socks and stockings are not a very good idea if you have edema. You will need to let the blood circulate well and support hoses serve that purpose better.
- Invest in good shoes. There is nothing like a pair of comfortable shoes in pregnancy which can help you to walk around without your feet hurting like there is no tomorrow. Check for high arches, ankle support and breathability of fabric before buying a pair.
- If you thought that giving up salt can help with edema, think again. Everything is beneficial in moderation and it is recommended that you have your normal levels of salt without overdoing it.
- Go up a shoe size. If that surprises you because you thought feet could only grow in size till teenage, knowing this would help that your foot size does go up during pregnancy because of the omnipresent hormone relaxin3. With all the swelling and weight gain, you are bound to feel pinched by your old pair of shoes. Treat your feet better by getting a pair of comfortable shoes.
An Ultrasound This Week
In the 18th week, you will probably have an ultrasound to check for baby’s normal growth and also to check whether the placenta and the umbilical cord are functioning optimally or not. Your doctor will also check if you are going along the due date and if there are twins or multiples.
An anomaly scan is also advised at this stage to rule out birth defects early. You can watch your baby on screen and if you are lucky enough, you could even catch a glimpse of your baby yawning, thumb-sucking or turning around in the uterus. Always ensure that your partner comes along for the ultrasounds so that he can bond well with your baby early on.
Have You Considered Joining A Birth Class?
At 18 weeks, you are most definitely thinking a lot about labor and childbirth. If you haven’t been able to decide what kind of birth you would want to have, discuss the possibilities with your doctor. All birth classes differ in their approach and it is up to you to decide which method you would want to avail.
You could find birth classes in your hospital itself but if you are not sure of them, you can sign up for one in your neighborhood. Always keep in mind that if you are driving there yourself, try and ensure proximity so that you don’t tire our before even reaching the class.
You can call up the International Childbirth Education Association to receive more information about childbirth educators in and around your locality.
Ask your doctor as many questions as you want to and if you have a tendency to forget things, write down the queries as soon as they come to your mind.
How Can You Help Your Pregnant Spouse In The 18th Week Of Pregnancy?
There are a number of new things happening to her this week. She may or may not feel the first flutters but if she does, expect her to be more emotional than she already is. She might be exhilarated or apprehensive and the best way to make her feel comfortable is to keep the communication going. Asking her how her day was could be a simple yet effective way of playing the role of a good listener. Always assure her that you are by her side in this.
If she has swelling in her feet and legs, try and give her warm and cold compress whenever possible and ensure that her sleeping posture is not compromised upon.
She might want to indulge in calorie-laden junk and it is alright to have a couple of cheat days but keep guiding her as far as diet is concerned so that rapid weight gain does not lead to other problems. This woman in front of you has stretch marks on her belly, acne on her cheeks, skin tags everywhere else and a body that always feels bloated but she is probably the most beautiful person to you right now and you should ideally say that to her often. Pregnancy could make you feel strange sometimes and there is nothing that a couple oc compliments cannot do.