Week by Week Pregnancy Diary
Between weeks 16 and 18 of pregnancy, your health care provider may offer you a second trimester screening test (known as the multiple marker test or triple screen), which measures the levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein produced by the fetus, and the pregnancy hormones hCG and estriol in the mother's blood. It's called a quadruple screen (or quad screen) when the level of an additional substance, called inhibin-A, is also measured.
If you have already done a blood test and/or ultrasound in the first trimester (first trimester screening test), then the results of the two tests together is called an integrated screening test. The results of these tests can tell moms whether their babies are at risk for (not whether they have) neural tube defects such as spina bifida or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome. An abnormal result does not necessarily mean that your baby has a problem — but it may mean more testing is required. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and advantages of these tests.
Around this time you may start to feel movements or fluttering feelings. You baby is now around 5 inches long from head to bottom, about the size of the palm of your hand. She is developing well and is starting to put on essential body fat. As well as practicing sucking and swallowing your baby’s heart rate will appear more regulated now and will show around 130+ beats per minute, roughly twice as fast as your heart beats!
The placenta and umbilical cord are changing to accommodate baby’s needs, growing to accommodate her ever increasing size and providing all of the essential nutrients and oxygen as well as removing waste. Your baby’s bones will be getting stronger and harder over the next week or so changing from soft cartilage to bone.
Frequent urination…. Oh dear ! If your sleep’s being interrupted by that gotta-go feeling, try double-voiding when you pee — when you think you’re done peeing, pee again. This will help empty out your bladder completely and maybe buy you an extra hour of shut-eye during the night.
Blame that pregnancy hormone hCG (which increases blood flow to the pelvic area and kidneys) for making you feel the need to pee nearly all the time. But don’t be tempted to cut back on your fluid intake since you (and your baby-to-be) need to stay hydrated — instead, cut back on caffeinated drinks (they just increase your need to pee). that gotta-go feeling may finally be starting to wane. But be sure to practice your Kegel exercises throughout the next several months to help prevent pregnancy-induced incontinence down the line.
You baby will be making an increasing amount of refined movements from now on and you still start to feel more and more including hiccupping (one of my personal favorites J ). Her eyes and ear will have moved into their final position around week 18 and she will look more like the baby you will be holding in your arms in a few weeks. You may notice that your baby moves if startled by loud noises or by light as her senses are becoming more alert now. Your baby’s reproductive organs are now formed and in place although baby may still be a little camera shy.
It’s a drag when you’re dragging yourself through the day. Make a point of getting your sleep — yes, it’s obvious, but between racing to the bathroom at midnight to pee and your mind racing with all those pregnancy worries, you may find it difficult to comply with your body’s ever-rising request for rest. So turn away from the computer (which can leave you too wired to fall asleep), turn in earlier (maybe after reading a book or magazine), and linger in bed longer. That extra sleep should give you some staying power.
Your energy is likely returning, your breasts may be feeling less tender, and your queasiness may have completely abated by now. If not, hang on — chances are good it will soon be behind you The top of your uterus is a bit above your pubic bone, which may be enough to push your tummy out a tad. Starting to show can be quite a thrill, giving you and your partner visible evidence of the baby you've been waiting for. Take some time to plan, daydream, and enjoy this amazing time. It's normal to worry a bit now and then, but try to focus on taking care of yourself and your baby, and having faith that you're well equipped for what's ahead.
In the last week your baby has had a bit of a growth spurt and will have started putting on a fair amount of fat which is essential for him after delivery. He will also have become coated from head to toe in a white substance called vernix caseosa. Vernix is a greasy waterproof substance used to protect baby’s skin during labour. Some babies are born with vernix still visible on their skin and many believe that you shouldn’t remove the vernix for 24 hours after birth as it helps to prevent ongoing skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
Lots of babies start to grow hair around this time although don’t be disappointed if baby comes out bald this is also very common. If you were to have a scan this week you will notice that baby’s arm and legs are no more in proportion to the rest of her body giving her a less alien appearance.
food cravings and aversions are by now a regular occurrence perhaps, you may be gagging at the smell of what used to be your favorite food — or have a craving for meat even though you were practically a vegetarian? The good news is that these weird food preferences may lessen by your third trimester. It is very important that you try to maintain good eating habits, and maintain a healthy diet. A little of what you fancy may do you no harm, however, be sure to eat a balanced diet. Your body isn’t producing enough blood to fill your expanding circulatory system, which can lead to dizziness and fainting. Stave off light-headedness by keeping your blood sugar stable with regular, small meals throughout the day — and by keeping a stash of healthy snacks nearby at all times.
You may not believe it but you are now at the midway point in your pregnancy and your baby has grown considerably since those first cells. As he continues to grow you will start to feel an increasing amount of movement as he makes the most of the space around him extending his limbs and doing some acrobatics. He will also be doing lots of swallowing now, he is also producing waste through his digestive system to give it a good work out prior to delivery.
If you have decided to find out the sex of your baby now is a good time. If you are having a girl her ovaries are now fully developed and holding millions of eggs. If you are having a boy his testicles will be obvious on a scan now that they have descended.