18 Weeks Pregnant

18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby’s Development

This week, your little one is developing a unique characteristic: fingerprints. Pads of fat accumulating on the fingertips and toes will turn into distinguishing swirling lines.

The developing digestive system has been going through its paces for several weeks already. Your baby swallows amniotic fluid, which makes its way through the stomach and intestines. That fluid will combine with dead cells and secretions in the intestines to form meconium — a black, tarry substance you'll see at the very first diaper change.

Around 18 weeks, your baby’s ears will begin to stand out from of the sides of the head and may even begin to register sounds.

Your baby will need bile to digest nutrients, and at 18 weeks, the gall bladder may begin to work.

The Size of the Fetus at 18 Weeks Pregnant

When you’re 18 weeks pregnant, the fetus is around the size of a sweet potato, measuring about 14 cm long from crown to rump, and weighing around 3 kg.

The illustration below shows how things may be looking inside your belly this week:

baby at 18 weeks pregnant

Mom’s Body at 18 Weeks Pregnant

If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel the baby begin to move inside your belly sometime soon. This fluttering feeling is known as quickening.

As your baby gets bigger, you may notice stronger movements and maybe even kicks in the weeks to come. Because each mom is different, you may feel this movement earlier (this is common if this is not your first baby) or in some cases even later. So, even if you don’t feel any movement at 18 weeks pregnant, there is no need to worry.

At this stage of your pregnancy, your body is going through a lot of circulation changes, such as increased blood volume and rapidly expanding blood vessels, which can cause your blood pressure to drop. This can leave you feeling lightheaded if you’re not getting enough blood flow to your head and upper body.

You may also notice around 18 weeks that your feet are getting bigger. A part of this is due to swelling caused by water retention, known as edema, which can occur from the second trimester onward.

Hormones also play a part in growing feet. The pregnancy hormone relaxin, which relaxes your pelvic joints so your baby can fit through the birth canal, loosens the ligaments in your feet, causing the foot bones to spread. You can relieve the swelling with a footbath of cool water and by keeping your feet raised; don’t worry (and have fun!) if you need to head out shoe shopping for a bigger size.

If you’re wondering how many months pregnant you are at 18 weeks, the answer is you have probably now just turned 5 months pregnant.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

At 18 weeks pregnant, here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Dizzy spells. Your heart is working 40 to 50 percent harder than it did before you were pregnant. This effort, combined with the pressure of your growing uterus on blood vessels, can occasionally leave you feeling faint, particularly when you get up quickly. Be sure to rest frequently. Lie down on your side when you feel faint or dizzy. Low blood sugar can also lead to wooziness. Resting, lying down on your side, or eating a piece of fruit will help boost blood sugar levels and settle dizzy spells.

  • Mini moves. Most women first feel their little one's movements between 16 and 20 weeks. Your baby is still small, so at around 18 weeks pregnant, it'll be more of a gentle flutter than a forceful kick in your belly.

  • Leg cramps. You may find that leg cramps strike at 18 weeks pregnant, usually at night. Try to stretch your calf muscles before bed and stay hydrated. A warm bath, hot shower, or a massage may help, too.

  • Nasal problems. Thank s to a surge in hormones and increased blood volume during pregnancy, which causes mucous membranes to swell up, you might experience nosebleeds and congestion.

  • Aches and pains in the back. Your growing belly and hormonal changes can lead to aches and pains in your lower back area.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

  • Follow a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Getting the nutrients you and your baby need is important, and omega-3 fatty acids are a crucial part of a healthy diet. Omega-3s help your little one’s nervous system develop, and some research shows that they may also help boost your immune system and reduce the symptoms of depression. Look for foods that are rich in this nutrient, like salmon or other fatty fish, or get your omega-3s from vegetarian sources like flaxseed, broccoli, or walnuts. 

  • Increase your calorie intake healthily. You'll need some extra calories to support your growing baby, but you don’t actually need to eat for two. Once you reach the second trimester, this could be an extra 300 calories — half a sandwich and a glass of skim milk, say — on top of an average 2,000 calories a day. You can check your pregnancy weight gain with our downloadable and printable tracker.

  • You may notice that everyone, from your mother-in-law to complete strangers, feels compelled to offer advice about your pregnancy. Although unsolicited opinions can be annoying, try to take them in stride. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone. A simple "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind" should do the trick. Try to remember that people mean well, and they're excited for you. You may even find some of the parenting tips you get are actually helpful.

  • In rare cases, the mid-pregnancy ultrasound reveals a problem associated with the placenta. Your healthcare provider will tell you if he suspects either placenta accreta or placenta previa and will be able to advise you on what care you will be given to lower any risks associated with either condition.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • Is your baby’s level of movement and position on track for 18 weeks pregnant? You can read more about quickening and fetal movement.

  • What are the risks and benefits of any genetic tests that may be offered this trimester?

  • Do you recommend the maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (or MSAFP for short) screening test?

  • When will your mid-pregnancy ultrasound exam be?

18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

  • Make a list of foods rich in omega-3s and add them to your weekly shopping list.

  • Start collecting books to read to your baby. Discover the our range of baby books.

  • Think about baby names for your little one, and check out our list of baby names for inspiration.

Baby namesBaby shower & registryDevelopmentGiving birthMultiplesPregnancy announcementPregnancy symptomsPrenatal health and wellnessPreparing for your new baby

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