You are 16 weeks pregnant or in your 17th week of pregnancy (counting from the first day of your Last Menstrual Period).
Keep in mind that this information is approximate. Each pregnancy is different and growth rates vary. For variations and details, please talk to your doctor.
What’s happening to the baby?
- The placenta and the umbilical cord are growing rapidly in the next few months and rushing blood packed with oxygen and nutrients for the growing baby.
- In your baby’s tiny intestines, there might be meconium present. Meconium (comprising amniotic fluid and digested secretions) is the first blackish colour stool your baby will pass shortly after birth.
- The baby’s bones are still like cartilage but are hardening further. But during birth, they will still be flexible to allow the baby to squeeze out of the birth canal easily.
- The sense of hearing is being developed in the baby and in the next few weeks, your baby will be able to hear. The baby is developing fat tissue under the skin that will help keep the baby warm outside your womb. The baby is busy preparing for life outside your body.
- Your baby is about 12 centimetres long (Crown to rump length) and weighs about 110 grams.
What’s happening to mom?
- Most women start to feel the baby’s movements (kicks, wiggles or other movements) or “quickening” at this time (around 18-22 weeks). Many describe it as a fluttering sensation or a gas bubble in the abdomen. This is when it “hits” most women that there is a live baby in their bodies. But do not panic if you do not feel the baby’s movements at this time. You will feel them soon in the next few weeks. There is still time and everyone’s body’s are different (the baby might be moving but you might not feel it move). But do discuss the baby’s movements with your doctor at the next appointment.
- You might experience a pain in the sides. This is normal and is because your ligaments and skin are stretching to accommodate the growing baby. But if your pain increases and becomes unbearable, do call your doctor.
- Most women experience an increased sex drive at this time. If you have a normal low-risk pregnancy, then it is safe to have sex. Read about when sex is safe and when it is not during pregnancy.
Checklist for mom
- You will be having the “anomaly scan” ultrasound around your 18th to 20th week. This screens for neural tube defects and other congenital defects. It is critical that you get this test done before your 20th week because in case the baby has congenital defects, you can consider and get an abortion before 20 weeks are over (in India the legal age for an abortion is 20 weeks). Discuss this with your doctor and schedule the anomaly scan beforehand to get the dates you want.
- Sleep on your side to sleep better and to maximise blood flow to the baby
- Should you sleep on your back or your side? For a normal, low-risk pregnancy, some doctors will say it does not matter how you sleep—just get that precious sleep. And some doctors will recommend sleeping on your side and avoid sleeping on your back. This will also prevent backaches later. Many doctors say that sleeping on your left side maximises blood flow to the body. But it’s best that you discuss this with your doctor.
- If you have not already, talk to your doctor and schedule the Maternal Serum Marker test or AFP that all women need to take. This is a blood test that is taken between the 15th to 18th weeks and screens for Down syndrome or other birth defects. If the test shows abnormal results, then it does not mean that the baby has birth defects. It just requires further detailed diagnostic tests like amniocentesis.
- If you are above 35, and have a history of birth defects in your family, then your doctor might want you to take the amniocentesis test anyway, even without waiting for the results of the AFP test. Amniocentesis is the definitive diagnosis for Down syndrome and other birth defects and can be taken from the 15th to 18th weeks. Discuss this with your doctor and spouse. This test is more intrusive and involves a specialist taking a sample of your amniotic fluid with a syringe.
Ideas for dad
- If your wife is above 35, discuss the pros and cons of amniocentesis with your wife, the doctor and other parents. Read up our article on Amniocentesis to help make a decision.
- Tip: Drink a glass of warm milk 15 minutes before going to bed. It is said that milk will help you sleep. It is also packed with calcium and protein - much needed by you and your growing baby. Just before closing your eyes, go to the bathroom so that you do not have to go to the bathroom (to empty the milk) in the middle of the night. Now relax and sleep.
Useful Parentree articles for this stage of pregnancy