18 Weeks Pregnant
- July 15, 2021
- by Melissa Lawrence
- 18 Weeks Pregnant: Recurring Symptoms
- 18 Weeks Pregnant: Common Symptoms
- Hip Pain During Pregnancy
- Fetal Movement During Pregnancy
- Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
- Stages of Fetal Development: Baby Growth & Size at 18 Weeks
- My Pregnant Belly Progression
- Birthing Center vs. Hospital: Where Should I Give Birth?
Mommy and daddy-to-be, can you believe it?? You’re almost halfway through your pregnancy! Weirdly, this feels like the halfway mark for me as four of my children were born during weeks 35 and 36 of pregnancy (making 18 weeks pregnant the halfway point). Enjoy these last eight weeks of the second trimester. A lot of changes are happening in Week 18 with your baby and in your body, so let’s get straight to it.
18 Weeks Pregnant: Recurring Symptoms
18 Weeks Pregnant: Common Symptoms
Varicose and spider veins have been the worst symptom of my pregnancy so far. I don’t notice them when I’m moving or exercising, but standing has become almost impossible due to the pain. I have semi-permanently resigned from dishwashing as a result. Ha! I recently went to a specialist who told me that during pregnancy, nothing could be done to relieve me of my varicose veins, although he did advise me to purchase pregnancy support hose.
Hip Pain During Pregnancy
Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone, is at work relaxing the ligaments in your pelvis and hips to allow your baby to easily pass through the birth canal. Relaxing the bones and ligaments, however, means that you will likely feel some aches and pains in your pelvic region — I sure have! I have a lot of pregnancy hip pain and swelling currently, so I’ve backed off of yoga and barre for a little while. Hip pain during pregnancy is common, so don’t feel discouraged if you get this symptom.
Fetal Movement During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant with your first child, you’ll likely confuse your baby’s first kicks with indigestion. Your baby is finally big enough for you to feel them move around and kick. However, each baby and mom-to-be is different, so don’t worry if you can’t feel your baby kicking yet. I still haven’t been feeling much movement, so don’t worry if you aren’t either. If you’re very concerned, let your doctor know.
Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
At night, I have been kept awake by a strange cramping in my legs. Although leg cramps in pregnancy are fairly common, scientists ultimately are unsure as to the cause behind these cramps. I have found it helpful to stretch out before I go to bed, which lessens the cramping.
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Stages of Fetal Development: Baby Growth & Size at 18 Weeks
At week 18, your baby weighs 6.7 ounces and is 5.5 inches long, about the size of a sweet potato. Most importantly, this week your baby’s nervous system is undergoing development, with the most notable formation being that of the myelin sheath, an important layer that coats the outside of nerves, allowing signals to reach their destination much more quickly. All this means that your baby will soon be able to perform complex movements more smoothly.
In more exciting news, your baby’s genitals should be visible when you have your next ultrasound. If you haven’t found out the sex of your baby yet, now might be a great opportunity.
Since your baby has been so small thus far, you have been unable to feel any of its movements. However, around week 18, this all starts to change. I have already begun to feel these movements, which makes it all the more real that my family will be one person larger in a few months! Because your baby is bigger, you may begin to notice your baby’s movements, which can often be confused with indigestion or the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. Make no mistake, that is your baby! However, all women experience their baby’s first movements at different times. This is based on the thickness of the uterine wall (if this is not your first baby, your uterine wall muscles should be more stretched out) — meaning that the thinner the uterine wall, the more likely you will feel the baby. With my 6th pregnancy, I’ve noticed that I felt my baby’s movements a lot earlier than in previous pregnancies. In addition, women who are thinner feel their baby move more early on.
Fun Fact About Pregnancy
The longest pregnancy ever recorded lasted for 375 days — 95 days longer than average!
My Pregnant Belly Progression
I’ve been dealing with a lot of hip pain and groin stiffness (still!), so I’ve resorted to hip-opening exercises and gentle yoga routines. Interestingly, the more exercise and stretching I do, the better I feel the next day! Check out my 5 months pregnant belly!
Birthing Center vs. Hospital: Where Should I Give Birth?
As your due date draws closer, start researching the different types of facilities where you can give birth. From being immersed in water to laying on a hospital bed, there are many options for you to choose from. Since my births were high risk given that I experienced preterm labor each time, I opted to give birth in a hospital. However, if you have a low-risk pregnancy, since birthing centers and home births are in many respects safer than hospitals, these options may be preferable to you. I would also encourage you to check out my article, Birthing Center vs Hospitals, for more information. Going on tours at birthing centers and different hospitals early on is a great way to help you find the place at which you’ll feel the safest and most comfortable giving birth.
Your Pregnancy at 18 Weeks: Prenatal Appointments
Here are the prenatal tests that are available at 18 weeks of pregnancy:
Cell-free DNA screening (cfDNA)
Second Trimester Quadruple Screening (Quad Screen)
Cordocentesis is a diagnostic test typically done anytime during or after week 18 of pregnancy. The procedure detects blood conditions (commonly anemia) and other genetic disorders by sampling blood from the umbilical cord using a hollow needle. This test is more dangerous to your baby, so it is only done if other tests are unavailable or inconclusive. Cordocentesis can also be used to medicate your baby through the umbilical cord. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of having cordocentesis performed before having it done.
Week 18-20 Ultrasound
This will potentially be the second or third ultrasound of your pregnancy! Ultrasounds during the second trimester are typically scheduled between weeks 18 and 20. At this stage in your pregnancy, an ultrasound will be able to confirm the age of your baby, determine their gender, and determine whether any structural abnormalities exist.
Week by Week Pregnancy Food Guide
Foods to seek out and to avoid during pregnancy can be found in Week 4 and Week 5 of this series. I present a healthy recipe and featured food below and every week.
Quick, Healthy Snack
Strawberry Banana Popsicles: blend together 1 chunked and frozen banana, 12 halved strawberries, and ½ cup of pineapple juice. Pour into popsicle mold and place in the freezer for 8 hours or overnight. (Tasty)
During pregnancy, your need for calcium is vital for two reasons: to support your baby’s growing bones AND to prevent your bones from weakening (this is called osteoporosis). To get additional calcium (outside of the prenatal vitamin you’re taking), incorporate chia seeds, beans, lentils, almonds, and yogurt into your diet.
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The Big Book of Organic Baby Food: Baby Purées, Finger Foods, and Toddler Meals For Every Stage (Organic Foods for Baby and Toddler)
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How Many Months Is 18 Weeks?
At 18 weeks you are around 5 months pregnant, although doctors do measure pregnancy in terms of weeks, not months.
Week 18 Pregnancy Checklist
- Interview pediatricians
- Take your supplements
- Sleep on your side
- Set up mid-pregnancy ultrasound
- Sign up for an infant CPR course
- Research nursery window treatments with blackout liners
- What to Expect & What to Expect When You’re Expecting – 5th Edition (2016)
- The Bump
- Baby List
- The Mama Natural Week to Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth (2017)
- Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy – Second Edition (2018)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists