Pregnancy Calendar Week 18
YOUR PREGNANCY WEEK BY WEEK: WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WEEK 18Your baby, now the size of a green pepper, is adding to her growing skill set this week with the building of her bones and lots more movement. Plus, all those moves she’s making are forming her fingerprints. For you, well, there are more annoying pregnancy symptoms popping up. But, try to focus on the beautiful miracle happening inside you to help you get through. Before too long, your sweet little bundle of joy will be here!Your BodyAt 18 weeks pregnant, your body has been through a lot. Thankfully some of the most uncomfortable and bothersome symptoms are now gone, but you’ll probably see these symptoms spring up soon (if you haven’t already):Leg CrampsLikely caused by your weight gain and circulation changes, leg cramps may be a painful pregnancy symptom you’re coping with now. Many pregnant women feel them begin in the second trimester and worsen in the third trimester.Troublesome leg cramps typically feel like sharp, shooting spasms in the calves. And this irritating feeling can come on so strong that it wakes you up at night.Try treating your leg cramps or prevent them altogether with these tips:
- Walk and/or exercise every day.
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time.
- When sitting, don’t cross your legs.
- Elevate your legs when sitting or lying down.
- Drink plenty of water; aim for 8-10 cups per day.
- Stretch and massage your calf muscles every day and a few extra times right before bed. Ask your partner to give you a nice, long calf massage.
- When lying down, lie on your left side to improve circulation to and from your legs.
- Apply a heating pad to your legs (just your legs) or take a nice warm (not hot) bath to soothe and relax your muscles.
- Wear support hose to help increase circulation.
Stretch MarksWith your baby and your belly growing more these days, you’re probably seeing stretch marks now. Viewed by many expecting moms as a rite of passage into motherhood, stretch marks are the red, pink or purple streaks that may be appearing on your abdomen, hips, thighs and breasts.Ninety percent of pregnant mothers get them and genetics is thought to play an important role. So, if you don’t have them yet, but your mother got them during her pregnancy, you probably won’t escape from them showing up soon.The amount of weight you gain, and how quickly you gain it, is also a factor along with the size of your baby.There’s not much you can do to prevent stretch marks, but you can take steps that may minimize the marks and make them less noticeable:
- Keep areas with stretch marks well-moisturized. Apply your favorite moisturizing lotion at least twice per day. Applying lotion right after you bathe is an especially good way to lock in more moisture. This will also help with dryness and itching you may be experiencing.
- When selecting a moisturizer/lotion/cream, be sure to use one without alcohol as it can be drying to skin and may making itching worse.
- Try spreading grape seed oil on places that you see stretch marks; it’s an all-natural treatment that may help.
- Gain weight slowly during your pregnancy. In total, your gain should be between 25-35 pounds with an average gain of 1-2 pounds per week.
- If you’re feeling anxious about your stretch marks, ask your dermatologist about postpartum treatments and body contouring procedures that may help soften the look of your marks after you deliver.
Your BabyIn the 18th week of pregnancy, your baby is on the move with many new changes coming about as she grows and matures.Your baby has fingerprints. How exciting! Yyour baby now has her own set of unique fingerprints! These are created by all those movements your baby is making. As she shifts around inside you, tiny ridges begin to form on her fingers and develop into her fingerprints. Because no two babies move in the same way while in the womb, no two people have the same set of fingerprints.Your baby’s bones are forming. Your baby’s skeleton started out with rubbery cartilage that’s beginning to harden into bone now, a process called ossification. More hardening will happen over time until her skeleton is fully developed. Here in week 18, your baby is slowly but surely building her tiny ribs, leg and arm bones, and all the rest of the 300 bones that she’ll be born with.Calcium and protein play an important role in bone development, so be sure to take in more milk and protein-rich foods like lean meats, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds.Your baby is moving more. With your baby’s musculoskeletal system kicked into high gear, she’s moving more now than ever before, and you’re probably feeling it, too! If not, you’re going to feel it soon. If you took a peek inside, you’d see your mini-human moving her head, sucking her thumb, yawning, twisting and rolling around, and throwing out those petite-sized punches and kicks.Diet and Exercise Tips You Should FollowTo keep you and your baby healthy, follow these tips in week 18:Eat foods rich in essential oils. With your baby’s skin now making vernix, a protective coating over her skin, you should eat foods rich in essential oils. Provide your baby with the critical nutrients she needs by eating nuts, seeds, olives, avocadoes and small ocean fish.Enjoy physical and emotional benefits with swimming. Swimming is one of the best pregnancy exercises. Why? It’s a terrific low-impact option that gives you a great cardio workout that helps burn calories, improve circulation, increase muscle tone and fight fatigue. And it helps your body process and use oxygen—very important for you and your little one. Pregnant mothers who swim say that it helps them sleep better at night, too, which makes a big difference in your ability to handle all of pregnancy’s physical and emotional demands.Things You Should Do
- Schedule a mid-pregnancy ultrasound if you haven’t already.
- Begin a baby bonding ritual. Set aside time each day to talk to your baby and imagine all of the joys that await you once your baby arrives.
Words You Should KnowDoula: A non-medical assistant who provides physical, emotional and educational support in prenatal care during childbirth and the postpartum period.Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: One of the most severe effects of drinking during pregnancy. FAS is a leading, preventable cause of mental retardation and birth defects.Placenta Previa: Implantation of the placenta over or near the top of the cervix.Vernix Caseosa: The waxy “cheesy” white substance that coats the skin of a newborn baby.