18th Week of Pregnancy: Changes, Symptoms, Food & Care

At week 18 of pregnancy, you are very much into the second trimester of pregnancy. From this stage onwards, the rapid development in size and weight will be starting to level down a little. However, there are a lot of exciting things going on in your baby’s life. By this week most expectant mothers start to feel the pressure of pregnancy.

18th Week of Pregnancy: Changes, Symptoms, Food & Care

So make sure that you cut some time out of your busy schedule to relax and indulge in some self-care. Also, this week could be the one when you feel your baby’s movements in your belly. These movements may be more like a gentle baby flutter or can be a baby kick.

What can you expect this week?

  • One common problem that you will constantly face is backache.
  • Difficulty sleepy can arise.
  • Baby movements can be discovered.
  • You might feel additional and unexplained discomfort and seeing your doctor often is necessary. 

Common pregnancy symptoms in week 18

Most women start to experience stomach pain or severe abdominal cramps during this period of pregnancy. It happens due to many reasons including constipation or gassiness. It can also be due to your abdominal ligaments thickening and stretching under the pressure of your expanding uterus. This is the round ligament ache. And another common symptom during this time is headaches.

These symptoms pose no threat to the health of your baby. However, if these symptoms get severe, seek medical assistance immediately. 

Be very alert to the changes in your body to act promptly. You should immediately call your doctor if your round ligament pain is accompanied by either bleeding or spotting, unusual blood-tinged vaginal discharge, pain while urinating, etc.

Similarly call your doctor immediately if your headache leads to the symptoms such as blurred vision or flashing lights, severe vomiting, pain below your diaphragm or ribs, sudden swelling of any body parts such as hands or feet. 

The other common symptoms this week may include 

Swelling of hands or feet

Don’t worry if this swelling isn’t sudden, severe, or extremely uncomfortable. However, if it is a sudden change after headaches then consult your doctor right away. 

Backache

With expanding uterus and rapidly growing baby, your body is under a lot of pressure. This causes the muscles in your back to start aching and makes it painful.

 Leg cramps

This can be a sign of dehydration. So you need to increase your water intake.

Varicose veins

This symptom may start now or it may have even started earlier in your pregnancy. To provide some relief to your already overburdened circulatory system and improve your varicose veins; avoid standing or sitting up for a long time, get exercise, wear comfortable clothing and keep your legs up whenever possible. 

Insomnia

You are probably spending a lot of time preparing for your baby and your body is also working overtime. With both your mind and body on overdrive, it may be difficult for you to get some sleep during this stage.

Nose bleeds and stuffy nose

This is another symptom that you may have started experiencing already or it may happen this week. This symptom happens due to excess pressure on your veins in the nasal cavity. Keep an ice pack handy to stop the bleeding. You may even apply pressure and tilt your head up for 5 minutes to stop the bleeding. 

Baby flutters or baby kicks

While some women start to experience actual forceful baby kicks, you may also experience only flutters during this week. It varies across mothers.

Heartburn

This pesky symptom is very common during pregnancy. If you feel every bite is setting your guts on fire, then try the simple home remedies of eating slowly and chewing thoroughly, sitting up straight after meals, eating smaller and frequent servings than one big meal, and sleeping with your head propped up, etc.

Some other symptoms that may persist are dizziness, indigestion and bloating, and oral problems.

Your Baby’s Development in Week 18

  • Your baby will start to try out it’s newly developed and functioning muscles. So you may be able to feel your baby’s movement from now on. And this may cause you to develop some intense food cravings too. During this stage, your baby is positioned in a way where its head is close to its chest and its feet are pointing downwards. 
  • Remember the fingerprints that had started developing a few weeks back? This week your baby will have fully developed and unique fingerprints on both its fingertips and toes. 
  • A nerve protecting insulation called Myelin has started to develop around the baby’s nerves. This protective covering will continue to grow until delivery. 
  • The external genital parts have fully developed. If you have a baby girl then the baby’s fallopian tube and uterus are properly placed by now. If you have a baby boy then on your next ultrasound check-up, you may get a peek at the genitals. 
  • Your baby can also now recognize the taste of sweet and bitter on its taste buds.
  • Your baby has started to practice its napping skills. It can now yawn and even hiccup. You may get a glimpse of your baby’s adorable yawn and its other baby movements on the ultrasound checkup. 
  • If you continue to notice just baby flutters, don’t worry for in the next few weeks you will surely feel your baby twisting and kicking in your uterus. 

Size of your baby

Your baby is now approximately 14 cm long from its head to bottom. Your baby weighs approximately 200 grams and is about the size of bell pepper or an artichoke.

Body of the mother at week 18

You may start to feel clumsy because of your expanding belly and growing breasts. It is normal to feel out of place but don’t worry. Do not get stressed if you are unable to feel any fetal movement. Most first-time expectant mothers report noticing baby movements around week 20. You may notice around this time that a vertical line is appearing on your stomach.

This line is known as linea nigra. This happens due to skin pigmentation and will disappear within a few months post-delivery.

 You may have already started noticing stretch marks appearing on different parts of your body in the previous weeks or it may start this week. Don’t fret too much as these stretch marks will disappear after delivery.

Pregnant belly at week 18

Chances are by this time you are feeling huge and bulky. Your uterus is now expanded to be as big as a cantaloupe. However, some women don’t show much even in week 18 and it’s nothing to worry about. Depending on your pre-pregnancy BMI, your doctor will provide a recommended weight gain plan.

Drastic changes in weight leading to sudden weight gain or even weight loss may indicate health problems. Consult with your doctor regarding your weight concerns.

18 weeks ultrasound

Most women get their first prenatal checkup between weeks 8 and 14; it is usually followed by the second prenatal check-up between week 18 and week 21. The second prenatal checkup is generally known as a dating scan because it provides a reliable idea of the expected due date and your doctor will also confirm the number of babies that you have in your womb. 

This scan is also sometimes known as an anomaly scan because it provides a detailed picture of the baby’s appearance and other developments. During this scan, your baby’s growth and progress will be measured. The doctor will check the development of major organs. The fetal heart rate, placenta location, and the amniotic fluid will also be checked.

You may get a chance to see your baby make movements and adorably yawn or make facial movements during this scan. During this time your technician will be able to inform you about the sex of your baby with greater certainty. It is, however, only possible if your baby is the proper position where its genitals are visible. Sometimes the babies don’t cooperate and in that case, you may have to wait a little longer.

Along with these scans, you should ask your doctor about a screening test and Diagnostic test to determine any developmental and immunity disorders. Chances are your doctor has already made the required arrangements but if not you should take the initiative to ask your doctor and get the arrangements done. 

Sex at week 18 of pregnancy

It is normal to worry about the little one in your womb but, if your doctor doesn’t advise you otherwise, it is safe to have sex during pregnancy. While some couples continue to engage in regular sex, some couples don’t feel up to.

You and your partner may also explore different ways to get intimate. Whatever you choose, it is important to communicate and discuss your feelings openly with your partner.

Tips and reminders for week 18

  • In addition to eating fresh and healthy, include iron in your diet. Foods such as beans, soy, oats, barley, dried fruits, spinach, etc are rich in iron. If you suffer from iron deficiency, talk to your doctor about iron supplements. Also drinking lots of fluid and hydrating is mandatory.
  • You have to keep exercising but only moderately. Avoid jumping or bouncing, backbends, dancing, and other moves that may make you overheated.
  • Try to sleep on your sides to boost circulation.
  • As your baby has already developed the ability to hear your voice, start collecting baby books to read to your baby.
  • Now that all your friends and family probably know about your pregnancy, you may have to deal with a lot of unsolicited advice on pregnancy.
  • Start searching for a pediatrician who will meet your requirements such as appointment availability, vaccination, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many months is week 18?

In week 18, you are in the fifth month of pregnancy. It is the second month of your second trimester. 

How many weeks to go?

Only 22 weeks to go.

Can I hear my baby’s heartbeat?

Yes, if you get your second prenatal ultrasound in week 18. You will hear very fast, almost twice than yours, heartbeats of your baby.

Can I feel the baby’s movement at week 18?

Your baby has started moving the tiny arms and jerking the legs and you may be able to feel them. However, most first-time pregnant mothers mistake the initial subtle baby flutters for gas or muscle twitches. 

If you get an ultrasound in week 18, you will also see your baby moving around and probably sucking on its tiny fingers. If you can’t feel it yet, be patient, and very soon you will feel your baby moving in your belly. Most women notice these flutters around week 20.

When to call the doctor in 18th Month?

You should call your doctor if you experience severe nausea, bleeding, severe stomach pains, fluid leakage, or blurred vision. Seek medical help if you feeling overwhelmed by your pregnancy or suffering from anxiety. If you start to feel your baby moving every day and then notice no movement for about 12 hours, even though it might be nothing but still it will be best to call your doctor and get a check-up.

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