This week, your baby is as big as a grapefruit.
Baby is busy practicing breathing, swallowing, sucking, and of course growing!
The sensation of your baby kicking can be both exciting and moving. For some women, it's a soft fluttering or rolling sensation in the belly. Others may not feel anything yet. Just a little more patience is all it takes - most pregnant women feel their first baby kicks between 16-20 weeks.
As your baby grows, your center of gravity shifts forward. This can make you bend backward to keep your balance, which puts extra pressure on your back and can cause pain there as well as in your neck and pubic symphysis (the joint in your pelvis).
Entering the 18th week, your baby's inner ear structure and the hippocampus-centered nervous system in charge of memory have developed. Don't worry about your baby getting bored in the womb, his hearing, swallowing and sucking abilities are all developing, and he will also move his hands and feet, allowing you to feel the "fetal movement".
The baby's liver has begun to secrete bile, which will make the baby's first stool after birth dark green and very sticky.
Did you know that there are already millions of eggs in the ovaries of female fetuses? Most of the eggs die before the baby is born, but there are about 1 to 2 million eggs left at birth. So, part of your potential grandchildren is already inside you!
During pregnancy, some women may notice dark spots on their forehead and cheeks. These are called "pregnancy spots" or "hormonal spots." They occur because of the increased production of hormones during pregnancy, which leads to increased pigmentation. However, they usually fade within a few months after giving birth.
However, some skin cancers can look similar to pregnancy spots. If you're unsure, you should consult a dermatologist.
A pregnant woman's growing uterus changes her center of gravity, pulling her lower back forward and making her lean back involuntarily to maintain balance. This can lead to low back pain.
Many pregnant women suffer from a condition called nocturia, which is the need to urinate frequently at night. This can disrupt their sleep and cause insomnia.
Nosebleeds are unfortunately common during pregnancy, and they can last a few seconds to more than 10 minutes. This is due to changes in hormone levels. If the bleeding does not stop, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Start thinking about booking a structural scan. The best time to examine the fetus' structure is during the 18th to 22nd week of pregnancy. This is when they can check for things such as the development of the brain and heart, as well as other organs. Additionally, they can observe the level of amniotic fluid and look for any abnormalities or physical deformities. The examination usually takes no more than an hour.
Down Syndrome Testing
There are two main ways to screen for Down syndrome during pregnancy. The first is through early Down syndrome screening, which can be done at 16 to 19 weeks gestation. This involves a blood test for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and other levels. This method can detect about 80% of babies with Down syndrome.
The second method is through non-invasive fetal screening (NIPT), which is 99% accurate in detecting Down syndrome. NIPT can also be used to detect sex chromosome-related diseases and microdeletion syndrome. This is normally done in weeks 11-13.
If in any doubt, you should consult your Obstetrician.