You are 18 weeks pregnant or in your 19th 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 area of the baby's brain that helps in sensory functions (touch, hearing, seeing, smelling) is growing very fast. The baby’s nerves are starting to be coated with a fatty substance called myelin that insulates the nerves, for impulses to go to the brain and back.
- A cheesy white substance called vernix has started to form on the body. The lanugo (the fine downy hair) is already present on the baby’s body. The vernix along with lanugo protects the baby’s skin from prolonged exposure to amniotic fluid while in the uterus. Premature babies are born with a lot of vernix and lanugo on their skin.
- The hair on the scalp is also growing fast.
- Ever wonder why a human pregnancy is so long while animals have a shorter pregnancy? It is because the human brain is a very complex organ and needs time to develop.
- Your baby is about 14 centimetres long (Crown to rump length) and weighs about 190 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 is 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.
Checklist for mom
- Get an early start on baby shopping, while you still have the energy. Read Parentree's article on Shopping List for New Baby
- You could go for some music shopping for you and the baby since your baby might be able to hear soon. Many moms and dads like to talk to their babies and listen to soothing music. They feel it helps to calm them and their babies. It could be Indian classical (there are even special ones for babies in the womb these days), western classical (Mozart’s music or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are hot favourites with parents-to-be around the world) or any other music you fancy.
- As the baby grows, it is important that you sleep well at night and take short naps during the day.
- If you are above 35 you might be going for amniocentesis very soon or would have already gone for it. Amniocentesis is the test taken between 18 weeks to 20 weeks that diagnoses Down syndrome and other birth defects. This test is intrusive and requires a specialist to draw amniotic fluid with a needle. Discuss with your doctor, spouse and other parents
- You might be having the “anomaly scan” ultrasound sometime this week. The anomaly scan is recommended around your 18th to 20th week and screens for neural tube defects and other congenital defects. Ensure that you have it on your calendar.
Ideas for dad
- Go music shopping for the baby and mom since your baby will be able to hear soon. Many moms and dads like to talk to their babies and listen to soothing music. They feel it helps to calm them and their babies. It could be Indian classical (there are even special ones for babies in the womb these days), western classical (Mozart’s music or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are hot favourites with parents-to-be around the world) or any other music you fancy.
- Mom is so busy with work, planning for the baby, doctor’s visits, or taking care of other kids. Make sure that mom gets some personal time to herself. An hour every now and then to unwind (read a book, go to the beauty parlour, go for a jog, go out with her friends). Offer to do an errand for her or take care of other kids.
- What kind of a parent do you want to be?
- Read about different parenting philosophies. One such philosophy is called Attachment Parenting propounded by Dr. William Sears in his book “Attachment Parenting”. This philosophy essentially highlights close and secure bonds between parents and children at all times (during pregnancy, newborn, baby and later). It emphasises practices like natural childbirth, breastfeeding, sleeping with the baby/child, baby-wearing or close physical contact with the baby, positive discipline etc. Many of these practices seem very natural in our Indian context. Of course there is no right or wrong answer in parenting and it is best to interpret these according to what works for you, but reading these can help you decide what might work for you.
Useful Parentree articles for this stage of pregnancy