Welcome to Scary Mommy’s pregnancy week by week guide! We’re here to give you all the info about what to expect when you’re expecting: be it symptoms, your pregnancy week by week size and development, your changing body, or ultrasounds and appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about week 18.
Your Body at Week 18 Pregnant
Aches, Pains, and Dizzy Spells
While you may be in the middle of what is often dubbed the “honeymoon” period of your pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing some serious discomfort. Your joints and ligaments are loosening up to prep for the baby, causing some aches and pain in your lower back and hips. If you haven’t already done so, try a belly support band during the day and a pregnancy body pillow at night. A belly band may ease some of your discomfort while also providing support, and the pillow can ease some of that stress off your hips. You should also be sleeping on your left side for better circulation.
Now that your blood volume has doubled, your heart is working overtime even as your cardiovascular system is slowing down. All these changes can lead to low blood pressure and it’s important you don’t ignore signs of faintness and dizziness. When standing up from a lying or sitting position, do so slowly. Make sure to keep hydrated, as dehydration can bring on those symptoms, as well.
Your Baby at Week 18 Pregnant
You’re Growing a Uterus Inside Your Uterus
Your little one is coming in at 6.5 to 7 ounces and measuring a whole 6 inches long, or the size of an ice cream sandwich. Your baby has its own unique fingerprints, is fully blinking, and can hear you. Your little tot is doing all kinds of acrobatics and pirouettes in there and some women are starting to feel the little movements and flutters called the quickening. But if you have not felt these by week 18, there’s nothing to be alarmed by, you will soon.
In addition to Olympic-level gymnastics, this is a busy time for the baby. It is growing eyebrows and lashes, yawning and hiccupping, and those tiny fingers and toes are growing nails. Per the American Pregnancy Association, a protective layer called meylin is growing around the nerves and if you’re expecting a boy, his genitals may be detected in your next ultrasound. If you’re expecting a girl, the fallopian tubes and uterus are now in their forever home in the body. You’re growing a uterus inside your uterus!
Your Symptoms and Health at Week 18 Pregnant
Hormonal changes and an increase in your body’s blood volume adds pressure on the veins, resulting in varicose veins in some women. Most women who get this symptom tend to see them on their legs, buttocks, and vaginal region. Keep feet elevated as much as possible for circulation, wear specialized compression stockings, keep hydrated, and stay active.
Heartburn is a common pregnancy symptom during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, and that’s because hormones like progesterone and relaxin slow down digestion and relax esophageal muscles, which in turn allows acid to make its way back up. Thankfully, there’s something you can actively do to lessen just how bad your heartburn is. Avoid spicy or greasy foods, have several small meals during the day instead of large ones, avoid lying down right after eating, and elevate your head at night.
By the start of the second trimester, you may notice your breasts are larger and fuller without feeling sore, tender, and painful to the touch. They are preparing for milk production and may increase in as much as a cup size and a half by the time you give birth.
The increase in blood volume results in pregnancy headaches for some women. This symptom is usually caused by dehydration, posture, caffeine withdrawal, and blood flow and you should consult your OB if they persist and before you take any medication. Contact your doctor right away if you are experiencing severe headaches during pregnancy, especially your third trimester, since it might be connected to high blood pressure and a sign of preeclampsia.
An increase in vaginal discharge is common during pregnancy. Normal vaginal discharge is milky, white, and does not have a noxious odor. Contact your medical provider if you notice discharge that is yellow or green, with a strong odor that is also followed by itchy or red skin.
Pain in the pelvis and lower back is a common symptom in the ninth month of pregnancy; 80 percent of women experience it. Although you likely won’t get complete relief, you can alleviate some of the pain by trying a pregnancy sling, band, or belt that’s designed to take some of the pressure off your back and pelvis.
If you still haven’t felt your babies’ movements, not to worry! Every pregnancy (and baby!) is different, so you soon will.
This week is likely bringing more discomfort as your joints and ligaments are loosening up to prepare for not just one new arrival, but two. As a result, you might have difficulty getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Get used to it, there’ll be plenty more of that!
Stretch marks are prone to develop and this time, and your skin may become itchy. Keeping your skin well-moisturized by rubbing shea butter on your bump and drinking lots of water can help.
The contents of this article have been medically reviewed by Ruth A. Tessler, M.D. in July, 2019.
Written by Maia Efrem.
Follow Preggo Nancy’s pregnancy journey week-by-week and share in her joy, her symptoms, and even her pregnancy cravings.