Your pregnancy: 19 weeks

What’s your baby up to in his watery world this week? Intrauterine mischief! He may be sucking his thumb, turning somersaults, or pulling and grabbing the umbilical cord as if it were a toy.

Felt mango used to show how big baby is at 19 weeks
Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

What’s going on in there: Fetal development at 19 weeks

At 19 weeks pregnant, your munchkin is about the same length as a mango, or the screen on your iPhone—about 15 centimetres (six inches) from bum to head. And while you probably don’t know whether you’re carrying a boy or girl yet (though you can find out soon if you want!), the baby will weigh around eight ounces (240 grams).

What’s your mango-sized little one up to? Her urinary tract and circulatory system are fully functional, and her heart is beating about two times as fast as yours (you’ll hear that neat whooshing sound at your next checkup). After week 20, the heartbeat will start to slow down a bit. A white waxy or greasy substance called vernix caseosa, which looks a lot like a slathering of yogurt, has started to coat your whole baby. Some of the vernix will be gone by the time your baby is born, but for now, it’s helping to regulate her body temperature and protect her skin from the amniotic fluid like a moisturizer or sealant would. (Amniotic fluid can be quite acidic, drying out your baby’s skin and making it pruney.) There are actually a few studies that recommend delaying your baby’s first bath so that the protective vernix stays on a bit longer.

At week 19, movement is slowly increasing, and those having their second or third baby will recognize the feeling of those unexpected tiny mid-belly flutters. (Some women describe it as the feeling of a butterfly or a goldfish wriggling around!) If this is your first baby, you might not be feeling the somersaults yet. Don’t worry: As your baby gets stronger in the coming weeks, there will be no mistaking the acrobatics. One more fun fact: By now, your baby can hear. Sounds on the outside, from music to voices, are slowly becoming familiar.

19 weeks pregnant symptoms

Aches and pains
No, you’re not getting older (well, you are, but that isn’t why you’ve started to notice dull aches and sharp pains cropping up all over). As your body’s shape stretches inside and out to make room for your growing baby, you’ll experience what is called “round ligament pain” in your lower belly. You’ll also likely have an achy lower back and get some sharp pains in your hips and groin. These are all common growing pains for your stage, but if they feel too intense or cause you to worry, talk to your doctor or midwife. Prenatal yoga, stretching and deep breathing or meditation can be helpful—and relaxing—ways of combating discomfort. But be gentle on yourself: Dizziness and lightheadedness can become common as your baby presses on your blood vessels and crowds your lungs, making it a bit tougher to breathe.

Sleep like a baby
If you’re a tummy or back sleeper, your shifting centre of gravity and growing belly mean that you’re probably having a hard time getting comfy in bed, even when you’re exhausted. (Feels cruel, right? Thus begins motherhood….) Try to sleep on your side, with your knees bent. You may have to get creative with pillow positions to make this work for you. If your regular pillows aren’t doing the trick, there are plenty of made-for-pregnancy pillow options to try, from S-curved body pillows that give neck and hip support to wedges that can prop up a growing belly (our favourites below). Trust us on this: Do whatever you can to bank good sleep! The days when you can decide when to shut your eyes (and for how long) are numbered. 

Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow

Skin changes
If you’ve started to notice brownish, confetti-like patches of skin on your face, you may have chloasma—what some call the “mask of pregnancy.” Rising estrogen causes an increase in melatonin production, darkening certain areas of your skin. Don’t panic, though: It’s a temporary condition that usually fades after pregnancy (50 to 75 percent of pregnant women experience it). Minimize chances of permanent damage by using sunscreen, but not just on your face. You’ll notice that moles and other skin markings (including your nipples!) have darkened. A thin, dark line (called the linea nigra—see week 23) may have also appeared on your stomach, tracing its way from your bellybutton downward. If you plan to flaunt your new bod in the sun (and why not?!), slather on a good SPF over any exposed skin, which is more prone to sunburns during pregnancy

What’s on your mind this week

Prepping for your 18- to 20-week scan
This is the most important—and exciting—ultrasound since you found out that you were pregnant. You’ll finally be able to find out whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl—that is, if you want to. (Give this decision some thought before your appointment rolls around!) While the ultrasound tech is gliding that gel-coated wand over your belly, she is measuring a whole bunch of other body parts and organs to gauge your baby’s growth and development.

Drink up
You’ll be asked to come to your appointment with a full bladder (you could be turned away or forced into a long wait if you don’t). If you already have to pee every few minutes, this might sound like no fun at all. But for the best shot at seeing your baby, ultrasound techs need your bladder to be full so that it pushes the uterus up into your pelvis. Your ultrasound requisition form may have more specific instructions (such as drink a whole litre of water in advance), but if not, drink half a bottle of water in the car on your way to the appointment and down the other half when you check in. Once your tech has all the pictures she needs (they’ll be sent to your doctor or midwife), she should be able to give you a mid-scan pee break.

Pregnant woman standing at a window holding her belly'Pregnancy brain' is real—and may help women become better moms

What if something is abnormal?
The goal of the anatomy scan is to chart your baby’s growth and development. Plan to pack your patience—and any nerve-calming strategies—because you’ll spend a good amount of this hour-long appointment staring at the ceiling in a darkened room while your ultrasound tech clicks and clicks. Lots of silence and clicking doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Your tech has a big job to do today, and making small talk isn’t part of it. She has to measure the location of the placenta (if it is too low in your womb and partially or fully covers the opening to your cervix, you could be at risk of a condition called placenta previa) and check the umbilical cord, spinal development, brain and heart, as well as a long list of teeny-tiny organs. But what if something really is wrong? Well, this scan is designed to help detect it. If your tech finds an abnormality, she won’t be allowed to discuss it with you. Instead, she will contact your doctor or midwife. Some conditions simply need monitoring until birth. Others require an amniocentesis or MRI before diagnosis. You might be referred to a specialist or genetic counsellor. If this happens, though, you can count on your doctor or midwife to walk you gently through the process.

Just for kicks

Find a quiet moment to try out some lullabies on your little one (or to figure out if you can still remember the words to old favourites!). We actually have a bunch of lullaby lyrics here. You could also read aloud to the baby: Pick a children’s book or even a novel. It won’t matter to your baby, who is simply getting used to hearing your voice.

Baby names

Still toying with different names for your little prince or princess? Try out these 10 names inspired by Disney.

Pregnancy to-do list: Week 19

You’ll emerge from your ultrasound with several adorable black-and-white pics, so why not figure out a cute way to preserve them? You could pick a cute frame or use them to start a keepsake box that you can add to as the baby hits her milestones. Pick one that’s big enough to keep your baby’s first shoes and home-from-the-hospital outfits—your little girl will grow out of them before you know it!

Read more:
What you need to know about ultrasounds
Which beauty products are safe during pregnancy?
Next up: 20 weeks pregnant

 

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