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18 Weeks Pregnant

18-weeks-baby

Image: Fetal Development At 18 Weeks

Your baby now weighs about 135 grams and is the length of a pen. Baby’s teeth buds are forming through the gums. The placenta is doing a remarkable job, nourishing your baby and acting as a barrier to many harmful substances, stopping infection from passing from your bloodstream to the baby. Clever stuff, isn’t it?

Your uterus will be about the size of a cantaloupe by now. Inside there is still remaining space and your baby might even be turning somersaults!

Your bump is really growing and you’ll probably find that a lot of people will want to rest their hand on your belly. Some women don’t mind this and like the extra attention but if you’re not a tactile person it’s perfectly fine to say you’d rather not or just discreetly move away.

At this time, your baby will become a lot more sensitive to sounds from the outside world. It will get used to familiar voices, and can be startled by loud noises. This makes it all the more important to seek out relaxation time. If you haven’t started yet, why not talk to your baby and have your partner do so too?

I’m getting leg cramps at night… Help!
Many pregnant women experience leg cramps, usually in the second and third trimesters. They can be a real annoyance and may even wake you up at night.

Nobody knows why this happens so much in pregnancy, however cramps are thought to be due to a build-up of acids in your muscle fibres, causing spasms – ouch!

Some doctors believe it’s caused by nutrient deficiency due to the baby’s using up your stocks of calcium and magnesium. Others argue that your expanding womb puts pressure on the main vein from your leg, affecting your muscle tone.

The good news is that there is something you can do to fight the cramps. When you feel yourself tensing, stretch out your leg (heel first, then flex your ankle and toes gently). Or you could try massaging the painful area or wandering around to walk it off.

You could also try staving off the cramps by doing daily calf stretches against a wall (3 times per day, including before bed), or taking calcium or magnesium supplements.

Some women find foot exercises can help to prevent the cramps. These consist of bending and stretching your feet up and down vigorously about 30 times and then performing 8 foot rotations in each direction.

Try to avoid standing for long periods, sleeping with your toes pointing downwards or sitting with crossed legs. Many women find a warm bath before bed helps to stave off cramps. Also remember to drink plenty of fluids.

Possible Scan at week 18
Also sometimes known as a 20 Week Scan, an Anomaly Scan examines your baby’s anatomy in detail.

Measurements will be made of the head, brain, abdomen and legs. These will be plotted on a chart. Then your baby’s heart, brain, spine, bowel and limbs are checked to detect any abnormalities. This can never completely guarantee that the baby will be normal, but it gives very strong reassurance. The placenta, amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord are also all checked. If you wish, you can find out the sex of your baby from this scan.

An Anomaly Scan can be performed from 18 weeks but some doctors advise scans between 22-24 weeks. This is because often at that time the images of the baby are clearer particularly of the heart structure. However, it’s not advisable to schedule this scan beyond 24 weeks because after that time the baby is more likely to adopt a position that is unfavourable for clear views.

You’ll be given a few pictures of your baby to keep. Some clinics also offer you a chance to get a glimpse of your baby in 4D (moving film), but this is in addition to the Anomaly Scan and charged accordingly.

Possible Scan at week 18
A Sexing Scan (also sometimes called a Gender Identification Scan) can be performed to find out the sex of your baby at this stage.

The baby will also be measured and your medical professional will assess his or her wellbeing. Sexing scans are highly reliable but can be more difficult if a woman is very overweight, or if the baby is in an unfavourable position.

Gender Scan or Sexing Scan

Gender Scan (Boy) Picture (Click image to enlarge)

Generally, if a healthcare professional is unsure about the sex of your baby they won’t guess. But thankfully it’s very unusual to be unable to determine the sex of the baby.

Possible Scan at Week 18
A Reassurance Scan can be performed anywhere from 14-22 weeks. It’s not usually necessary but might be advisable if you have had bleeding or have been unwell.

The baby’s head, abdomen, and leg length will be measured. The placenta can be located and the amniotic fluid and umbilical cord assessed. The measurements will be plotted on a graph which you will be given.

Reassurance Scan

Reassurance Scan Picture (Click image to enlarge)

The scan is performed through the tummy (a trans-abdominal scan), and usually takes 15-20 minutes. You don’t need to have a full bladder and no special preparation is needed. You’ll have a few pictures of the baby to take away with you.