Your Pregnancy: Week 16
Can you feel butterflies fluttering in your stomach this week? That’s a great sign! The feeling is called quickening; it’s when you first feel the movements of your baby. You might confuse it with gas, an upset stomach or a nervous feeling, but it’s really your baby on the move. This week is generally when quickening starts, but it will become more pronounced (and more kick-like) around week 20 and on.
This period before you’re obviously pregnant but after you start gaining some weight can be tough on women. There might still be a disconnection between you and the life growing inside of you (Am I really pregnant? Can’t be!), so seeing your pants size creep up can be hard to handle. This obviously isn’t the time to restrict calories or over exercise – just try to remember the baby forming in there and focus on eating healthy, balanced meals. But also know that your feelings are normal.
Strike a pose! Enlist a friend (or your partner) to take pregnancy silhouette pictures as your belly begins to grow.
Stay tuned in to your stomach: Those gas bubbles? That anxious feeling? Those might be the first signs of movement, called “quickening.”
If you find your unhappiness excessive or you have dangerous thoughts, talk to your doctor right away about safe depression medication options.
Relax! You’re not losing your mind – not permanently, at least. Leave post-its or set reminders in your phone to help navigate through pregnancy forgetfulness. (Steer clear of herbal remedies, including ginkgo biloba, which aren’t deemed safe for pregnancy.)
Your baby now has enough muscle strength and coordination to form a small and tightly clenched fist. Fine details are beginning to emerge, like fingerprints and the creases between the fingers, knuckles and palms. Also, the umbilical cord is now completely mature, containing two arteries and one vein, enclosed and protected by a thick, gristle-like substance called Wharton’s jelly. This makes the cord slippery and allows it to move freely around your baby and resist compression.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
It’s the rare pregnant woman who hasn’t experienced at least a mild form of hemorrhoids, a condition that up until pregnancy seemed to be something remote and embarrassing, relegated to subway ads. What hemorrhoids are, actually, are varicose veins located in your rectum. Just as you might have experienced varicosities of the leg or labia, the veins of your rectum can also swell up during this time. Here are a few ways to avoid and/or manage them:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- If you are constipated, ask your doctor whether you can take Metamucil or some other form of fiber – or be given a stool softener. A handful of prunes also helps.
- Don’t strain when you’re on the toilet.
- Take warm baths.
- Use over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or suppositories if your doctor gives you the okay.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: “Prepartum” Depression
Until quite recently, depression was considered unlikely during pregnancy. Even women who had been depressed beforehand were expected to be temporarily “cured” by hormonal changes. But recent studies have shown what many have already learned from experience: Lots of women do indeed become depressed in pregnancy (sometimes even if they’re on antidepressant medication). In fact, recent estimates put the number of women who deal with depression in pregnancy at around 20%, which means prenatal depression occurs at about the same rate as the much more publicized postpartum depression.
Depression in pregnancy can be a continuation of depression before pregnancy or it can be triggered by changes in brain chemistry or life struggles while pregnant. Medication has been shown to lower depression rates, but a fair number of women remain depressed even while on them. The use of medications for depression in pregnancy is a complex issue. Many of the drugs used for depression have not been thoroughly tested on pregnant women, and some are already associated with problems. Still, since depression involves serious risks for the mother and baby, it is not always advisable for women to stop taking medication during pregnancy. Symptoms of depression should be discussed with your OB or midwife, who may work in tandem with a psychiatrist or psycho-pharmacologist if medication is recommended. Women who are depressed can also be helped by therapy or support groups.
It is important that depression be diagnosed and treated in pregnancy as in any other time of life. Untreated depression may lead to self-destructive behavior such as smoking, drinking, or poor prenatal care, all of which can have potential long-term negative impacts on your health and the health of your baby. Studies have also shown that depressed women have higher risks of certain complications and preterm births.
Most women experience feelings of anxiety and sadness during pregnancy, but there are signs of depression that really require more support and more attention.
Signs of depression (usually continuing for 2 weeks or more) include:
- Persistent sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide or hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Change in eating habits
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.