Your Pregnancy: Week 18
• If you could peer inside your belly to size up your baby now, you'd see that she's about 12.5 cm to 14 cm (5 to 5.6 in) long from the top of her head to the bottom of her buttocks.
• And it might look like she' s bulking up! Over the last week, your baby's weight has increased about 50 per cent to about 150 g (5.25 oz). But over the next little while, her rapid growth will slow down a bit as she continues to develop.
• Your baby is practising and building up the reflexes that will help her survive when she's born, such as sucking, swallowing and blinking. She's also beginning to swallow some of the amniotic fluid in your uterus. Her body can now absorb water in the amniotic fluid and process it through to her large bowel.
• Researchers think that swallowing amniotic fluid gives your baby important nutrients and helps prepare her digestive system for its job after birth.
How big do you think your uterus is now? As big as a grapefruit? Would you believe it's as big as a canteloupe?! But that’s nothing — by your baby’s birthday, your uterus will have stretched to the size of a watermelon!
The second trimester is often referred to as the golden stage of pregnancy. That pregnant “glow” you’ve heard about it? This is when it may happen, as your skin, hair, and even fingernails seem healthier than ever.
What's up with all those tests my caregiver does at each appointment?
Here's the lowdown:
• Sizing Up Your Uterus Get set for a belly check. Your caregiver measures the size of your uterus to track the growth and position of your baby and ensure that he is growing normally. If the measurements are smaller or larger than normal, it may indicate that your due date is wrong, your baby's growth is delayed, or you're carrying more than one baby!
• Blood Pressure & Weight Your caregiver monitors your blood pressure and your weight at every appointment to make sure you're not developing any complications, such as pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), which if left untreated may lead to serious problems for you and your baby.
• Urine Test Not another urine test! Your caregiver asks you for a urine sample at each visit to check for high levels of protein — a sign of pre-eclampsia (see above) — and sugar. Although it's normal for the level of sugar to increase in your urine during pregnancy, if it remains high for a few consecutive checkups, it may indicate that you're developing gestational diabetes — pregnancy-induced high blood sugar that usually disappears after the birth of the baby.
• Baby's Heartbeat Your caregiver will also monitor your baby's heart rate to ensure it's in the normal fetal range — 120 to 160 beats per minute.
Looking ahead: Hello, baby!
Many women will have a mid-pregnancy ultrasound in the next few weeks. You might want to ask for a keepsake printout — unlike the first trimester ultrasound, this one will actually look kinda like a baby! And if you haven’t found out your baby’s sex yet, and want to, this is your big chance.