Pregnancy Week 18

July 8, 2009

What a difference a week makes! Your baby's growth spurt has taken him to between five and six inches in length and he has gained about an ounce and a half in the past week, weighing in at around five ounces.

Baby Body-Building

Baby is very busy body building now. A strong heart and strong muscles are the order of the day and your physician may order an ultrasound to check out the development of the heart at this point in your pregnancy. At 18 weeks, it is possible to determine if there are any structural issues with the heart or surrounding organs. Most babies are born without problems, but in some cases, there are congenital heart defects that require intervention. The ultrasound will enable both parents and doctors to be prepared to help the newborn, in the event there is a problem. During this period of growth, the baby is also producing a substance called Myelin, which is a coating that covers the nerves. This production will continue through the ninth month.

Is It A Boy Or A Girl?

At 18 weeks, it is possible to determine the sex of the baby through ultrasound. The decision is a very personal one for each couple. Some parents want to know the sex of their baby while others prefer to keep it a surprise. While ultrasound has proven to be very accurate, there have also been cases of a technician mistaking the sex of the baby. There have been some very surprised parents when the baby delivered is not the sex the technician said it would be. A word of caution-don't finish the nursery until you know for sure the sex of the baby-and that may be on the day he/she is born.

You will want your partner to join you for the ultrasound visit. This is frequently the first opportunity new parents will have to get a glimpse of their precious baby. It is also a good time for both parents to bond with their baby, especially since an ultrasound at 18 weeks pregnancy can last up to 30 minutes.

Pre-Pregnancy: Remember When Sleeping Was Easy?

Your uterus has grown to the size of a cantaloupe or honeydew melon and you will definitely be showing a bit by now. Your weight gain could be between ten and 15 pounds-some women gain more, some less. Your comfort level has changed somewhat and sleeping may become more challenging. At week 18 of your pregnancy, you may want to lie on your left side when you sleep. There is a very large vein called the inferior vena cava, which carries blood back to the heart, and it runs down the right side of your body. This vein can be compressed if you lie on your right side. A whole body pillow is a great investment now. It makes sleeping more comfortable and takes the stress off the abdomen.

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