Your Pregnancy: Week 18
You’re most likely starting to show at this point, which might result in some unwanted belly touching – not only from family and friends, but from complete strangers! Normally, no one in their right mind would touch a strange woman’s belly – of all places! – but when there’s a baby in there, all etiquette rules are off. That belly is public domain. While some women don’t mind, speak up if it bothers you. You should never feel obligated to feel uncomfortable. Besides, you’re allowed to be a little mean – just blame it on the hormones.
With baby at 5½ inches long and about 6 ounces in weight, you just might feel a jab or two from your little Rocky (or Rockette). No worries if not; many women don’t feel anything for another two to four weeks. Your baby’s circulatory system is now in working order, pumping blood through the body. Although nutrients and oxygen from your blood are flowing to your baby’s blood via the placenta, the two circulatory systems are completely separate.
Have a date night with your partner to reconnect. And be sure to keep the conversation off the elephant in your stomach. With all the hoopla and stress surrounding you two lately, it’s important to focus on your partnership and have a conversation that doesn’t involve baby names or savings plans.
If you’re 35 or older, your doctor may recommend amniocentesis (between weeks 14 and 20) to screen for chromosomal and genetic disorders. Research the pros and cons and fully discuss your options before going ahead with this invasive procedure.
Call up a girlfriend that you’ve been too busy, overwhelmed or freaked out to catch up with. And try to find out how her life is instead of just dishing about the baby.
Craving something that’s not particularly healthy? Try substituting for a comparable but more nutritious version, like chocolate frozen yogurt for chocolate mousse, and apple chips for potato chips.
If you’re having a girl, her uterus and Fallopian tubes are formed and ready to go. If your baby is a boy, his genitals are noticeable – even in an ultrasound.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
Perhaps the biggest bonus of the second trimester – the greatest incentive to keep knocking back the milk and the horse-pills and the leafy greens – is the moment when you first feel a kick. No description can do justice to the event. It tends to take place somewhere between 18 and 20 weeks for first-time mothers (sometimes earlier to veterans of maternity), though it’s certainly no cause for concern if it doesn’t happen exactly on schedule. (My own movement of truth came at 22 weeks.)
The sensation of an actual tiny person kicking inside you is a little like an alien inhabitation and a little like falling in love. I never did get used to it.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just The Incubator
Sometimes it can feel like the world sees you only as a (possibly flawed or untrustworthy) vessel for this precious, perfect baby. Are you eating right? Are you resting enough? Are you taking vitamins? Eliminating stress from your life entirely? Are you taking care of yourself?
These questions have all become code for Are you taking care of the baby?
Inherent in this interrogation is the subtle suspicion that you require pressure from the outside world to do right by your fetus. Hogwash. Mothers are pretty hard-wired to be enormously invested in how their babies are doing. Hormones are constantly guiding a mother’s behavior whether she likes it or not, causing strong instincts about what to do or eat or when to sleep. But the conscious choices mothers make are also very, very likely in the interest of what’s healthy for the baby. Women make incredible sacrifices in the name of protecting the fetus.
Moving through birth to becoming a parent, it’s important cultivate a trust in your body’s ability as well as your own judgment as a mother. Normal amounts of stress are just fine for the baby, so cross that off your list. If getting a perfect night’s sleep was so crucial for the baby’s development, why would we grow in such a way that we can never get comfortable in bed?
Sometimes it’s a good idea to flip the line of questioning to focus a little on what you need to continue doing the powerful job you’re already doing. And by the way, we’ve heard that prenatal massage is GREAT for the baby.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.