18 Weeks Pregnant: Baby Update

Your baby is developing her sleep and wake cycle—and she doesn’t even need an alarm clock to do so! She may even have a favorite sleeping nook…like on top of your bladder. Babies spend lots of the time in the womb snoozing, but when your little one is awake, you're probably starting to feel it! She’s getting bigger and stronger, so kicks—that felt like little flutters a few weeks ago—now pack some punch. 

Her eyelids are still fused shut but she has started little blink-like movements. Her nervous system continues to develop, and her nerves are gradually being wrapped in a wonderful protective coating of myelin, a thin fatty layer…like insulation around a copper wire. Fat is also increasingly covering her entire skinny frame. (And, she’s developing a very important little collection of “brown” fat.) Like an internal candle, this special fat will be slowly “burned up” to keep her warm after she's born into the chilly world…

Did you know all babies start out as…girls? Well, in many ways! We all start life with labia. But now, little girls have the uterus and fallopian tubes in place. And boys have penises, but the testes have not slid all the way down into their little sack. (For some boys, it will take months—even years—for the testes to descend into the scrotum.)

18 Weeks Pregnant: About Your Body

Now that you’re definitely into the 2nd trimester, it’s time to move past sheer survival and on to maximizing your health. You may finally be regaining a taste for veggies and proteins after months of just craving carbs and you’re probably feeling a bit more inclined to exercise, now that you have more energy. 

Another healthy step to start planning is to get vaccinated. Tdap and flu vaccines are recommended for all pregnant women—both have been proven safe for pregnancy.

You can wait a while on the Tdap. It’s given during the 3rd trimester. (It’s also smart to plan to protect your vulnerable little baby by giving this booster to everyone who will be in close contact with your newborn.)  Tdap protects against tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and diphtheria. Through you, it will help protect your baby from the pain and danger of whooping cough—until she gets her first vaccines at 2 months.

On the other hand, influenza can be much more dangerous to pregnant women and their babies than to non-pregnant women. So, if you’re pregnant during flu season, your OB or midwife will advise getting a flu shot as early as possible.  

A To-Do List for Your 18th Week of Pregnancy

  1. Discuss your fears with your caregiver: Are you worried about gaining too much weight? Birth defects? Pain during labor? EVERY mom has doubts and concerns, so don’t keep them hidden in the shadows! Make a list of topics to discuss with your health care provider at your next appointment. The sooner you start talking about your big worries…the smaller they will get.

  2. Start writing a birth plan: This is a good time to start talking with your spouse to create a list of your preferences for labor, delivery and those first days as a mom. You might want to include pain management like hypnosis, epidural or laboring in water. And, consider your preferences when it comes to having a doula, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin time, keeping the baby with you for a few hours after birth, baby’s eye medication, etc.

    There are sample birth plans online to help get you started. Once you’ve drafted your birth plan, bring it in to review with your OB or midwife. (Note: It’s super important to remember that giving birth is something you can plan…but not control. Sometimes medical complications arise and big parts of your plan may have to be thrown out the window. That’s normal…flexibility is an important trait for all parents!)

  1. Protect your family…in case of bad things: Make sure to have fire insurance and a smoke alarm. With a new baby will come even more adult responsibilities! Like drafting a will and buying life insurance. Now is the time to start thinking about all the ways you want to make sure your little family is taken care of. While you’re at it, you might want to plan whom you would want to be the guardian of your child...just in case. (You don’t want anyone else making that decision.)

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