18 Weeks Pregnant

Learn what's happening in week 18 of pregnancy and find out how your baby is developing.

At 18 weeks, you’re well entrenched into the second trimester of pregnancy. Your baby is now the size of a sweet potato and is developing very quickly. Meanwhile, you may be experiencing not-so-desirable symptoms of pregnancy. You might start to feel your baby moving this week and you might find yourself feeling dizzy or suffering from low blood pressure (hypotension). Here’s what is happening with you and your baby at week 18.

What happens in your body in pregnancy week 18?

18 Weeks Pregnant

Your belly is growing quickly and you’re starting to feel pregnant. During your second trimester, you should plan to gain only three to four pounds a month. You should expect to have gained between six to fourteen pounds by the end of this week.

Your baby is becoming very active and those butterflies you feel in your belly may be your baby's first movements. This week, you may start to experience backaches, varicose veins, leg cramps, and swollen feet.

These symptoms of pregnancy at 18 weeks are actually the result of the pressure your baby puts on your body. Try to put your feet up as often as you can to relieve swelling and pain.

A backache is also one of the most common pregnancy symptoms at 18 weeks. This happens because the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens your ligaments. The increasing weight of your baby and expanding uterus also put pressure on your ligaments and muscles, which can cause lower back pain. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming or pilates, can protect you from back pain. You may also notice shortness of breath and trouble sleeping. A warm bath or meditation will help you to relax and sleep better. Constipation, heartburn, and indigestion are also common problems many pregnant women face during this week. Talk with your doctor or midwife to find ways to relieve these symptoms.

Changes in Your Body at 18 Weeks Pregnant

At this stage of pregnancy, you probably have an impressive baby bump. Your waistline is expanding greatly during this week. You may notice increasingly frequent trips to the bathroom, so try to use the bathroom before you lie down. Many women may experience dizziness (light-headedness) during this week of pregnancy. You can minimize this dizzy feeling by changing positions while sitting or standing, and by not moving too quickly. As your belly stretches, the stretch marks on your body may become more visible and itching may occur.

Your Baby at 18 Week of Pregnancy

Your baby is continuing to grow rapidly and he/she is constantly moving. Your little one is now swallowing, yawning, and hiccupping. Your baby is now about five and a half inches long and weighs around five ounces. His/her skin is no longer translucent and he/she is getting hair on the head. The nervous system is maturing rapidly at 18 weeks. The nerves in the brain are specializing into the ones that serve the senses of taste, touch, sight, smell, and listening.

Pregnancy Week 18 Tips

Pregnancy hormones may cause bleeding gums, so if you have this problem, schedule a dentist visit immediately. You should know that pregnancy increases the risk of periodontal disease, which has been linked to preterm labor. Routine dental care during your second trimester is completely safe, but dental X-rays should be avoided at all cost.

This is the right time to choose a pediatrician for your baby. This is an important decision, so begin the search for a good pediatrician early.

Begin planning for your baby's birth. You might want to take childbirth classes which will help you prepare for labor and delivery. Eat a nutritious diet that includes iron, calcium, and folic acid. Avoid fried and high-calorie foods.