At 18 weeks, the mother is halfway through pregnancy and experiences multiple changes in the body due to the increased growth and metabolic needs of the fetal body. The height of the uterus is midway between the pubic symphysis and umbilicus. The waistline expands, and the mother may feel off balance to adjust to the changing body. The womb moves out of the pelvis due to size, and the baby bump becomes noticeable. Because of the pregnancy-related hormones, the mother could experience uncomfortable pain, discomfort, and aches in the body.
The most common symptoms that occur at this stage include:
- Quickening (fluttering or a light tapping feeling caused due to fetal movements in the abdomen)
- Low blood pressure
- Low back pain and gas pain
- Ravenous hunger (increase in appetite or food cravings)
- Heartburn or constipation
- Blotchy or darkened skin on the face
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight gain
- Greasy skin
- Thick long hair
- Occasional nausea
- Feeling tired
- Mood swings
Fetal development at 18 weeks
The fetus now weighs around 0.41 lbs and is 14 cm in height. The skeleton continues to harden and ossify. The legs and inner ear bones are first to ossify. The fetus is then able to fully flex the arms and legs. Genitals are almost completely formed and in position. Blood vessels can be seen through the skin, and the ears are formed fully and are positioned at the sides of the head. It might hear the heartbeat or tummy gurgle of the mother and loud sounds outside the womb. A protective covering of myelin is beginning to form around the nerves. This will continue to form for a year after birth. The fetus swallows the amniotic fluid that makes its way into the stomach and forms meconium. The baby’s first poop slowly begins to accumulate in the bowels. If the fetus is a female, the uterus and fallopian tubes are formed and in place. In case of a male, the prostate gland is being formed. Both female and male now officially sport finger and toe prints. The fetus can perfect intricate moves such as sucking a thumb, clasping hands, and curling.
Checkups and prenatal examinations at 18 weeks
Around the 18th week of prenatal checkup, the doctor will check the weight of the mother, size of the baby, and mother’s blood pressure, and conduct a urine test and look for other vital signs. A mid-pregnancy ultrasound will be conducted to check the physical development of the fetus. Based on the medical history, age, and other examinations, the doctor would recommend other prenatal examinations such as:
Latest Health News
- Healthy Living Boosts Life Span, Even for Former Smokers
- AHA News: For This Race Car Driver, Curing a Racing Heart Was Key to Crossing the Finish Line
- Money, Good Info Can't Undo Resistance to COVID Vaccine: Study
- U.S. Suicide Rates Rose in 2021, Reversing 2 Years of Decline
- After Ian's Destruction: How to Safely Enter, Clean Flood-Damaged Homes
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Should I Be Feeling at 18 Weeks Pregnant? Related Articles
Ectopic Pregnancy (Tubal Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy located outside the inner lining of the uterus. The majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube. Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include abdominal pain, lack of menstrual period (amenorrhea), vaginal bleeding, fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
Treatment options for an ectopic pregnancy include observation, medication, or surgery.
Heartburn During PregnancyHeartburn during pregnancy is quite common. During pregnancy the lower esophageal sphincter muscle becomes weakened , which likely occurs due to the effect of the high levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy. Fortunately, this resolves after pregnancy. Management of heartburn during pregnancy are generally involves lifestyle changes and avoiding foods that promote heartburn, for example, don't smoke, avoid tight clothing, eat small, frequent meals, chew gum, or sip liquids.
Hypothyroidism During PregnancyHypothyroidism during pregnancy can be treated with synthetic thyroid hormones to maintain the proper thyroid hormone balance. Hypothyroidism symptoms and signs include fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and constipation. Treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnant women is important because inadequate levels of thyroid hormones may affect the fetus and child during growth and development.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy and Drugs (Prescription and OTC)
Taking prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs or supplements should be discussed with your doctor. There are some medications that have been found to cause no problems in pregnancy, however, medications such as Accutane for acne, should never be taken during pregnancy.
Preeclampsia (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)Preeclampsia is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia typically begins after the 20th week of pregnancy. When preeclampsia causes seizures, it is termed "eclampsia" and is the second leading cause of maternal death of in the US. Preeclampsia is the leading cause of fetal complications. Risk factors for preeclampsia include high blood pressure, obesity, multiple births, and women with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma. Pregnancy planning and lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.