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:
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