18 Weeks Pregnant
Time to switch things up. Starting around 18 weeks pregnant, you should begin to sleep on your side instead of your back. That’s because baby (and your uterus) is getting big enough to press against large veins in the back of your abdomen, which can reduce the amount of blood going to your heart, making you feel lightheaded—or worse, lowering your blood pressure. Sounds scary, but it’s totally preventable by simply sleeping on your side. Of course, your veins aren’t the only things that are prone to pressure—you are, too! At pregnancy week 18, there’s a lot going on. Be sure, in your hectic schedule, that you plan some time to take breaks and unwind.
At 18 weeks pregnant, baby is as big as an artichoke. Baby's about 5.6 inches long and about 6.7 ounces now and keeps growing quickly. That's why you’re probably feeling so hungry!
At 18 weeks, you’re about four months pregnant. Since pregnancy is 40 weeks long, at 18 weeks pregnant you’re nearly half-way there!
Not only are you super busy preparing for baby, but you might be having some not-so-fun 18 weeks pregnant symptoms, like swollen feet or hands, backaches, leg cramps and nosebleeds. And the stress and discomfort can keep you up at night around week 18 of pregnancy. Here’s the scoop on the 18 weeks pregnant symptoms you may be feeling:
- Swollen feet and/or hands. Swelling can be an annoying pregnancy symptom. It’s nothing to worry about as long as the swelling isn't sudden or severe. If it is, tell your doctor right away.
- Backaches. Baby is putting a lot of pressure on your insides, causing aches and pains in your back. Plus, pregnancy can take a toll on your posture, which can also lead to backaches.
- Leg cramps. Cramps can be a sign of dehydration, so drink up!
- Varicose veins. These visible purple or blue veins are swollen due to all that extra pressure on your circulatory system. To deal with them, change positions often, prop your legs up when you can, get plenty of exercise and avoid tight clothes and shoes.
- Trouble sleeping. Your mind is working overtime and you're getting more and more uncomfortable. This can wreak havoc on your ability to catch the ZZZs you need.
- Nosebleeds. Bet you never expected these! Increased pressure on the veins in your nose may be making it bleed more than usual. If you have a nosebleed, apply pressure by pinching your nose for five to 10 minutes. An ice pack can also help stop the bleeding.
- Baby kicks. Whether you’re 18 weeks pregnant with twins, triplets or a single baby, you’re probably feeling not just tiny flutters but more definitive sensations resembling actual kicks. They’re getting stronger!
What should I be feeling at 18 weeks of pregnancy?
If you’re tired and achy, you’re not alone—week 18 symptoms can really wear you down! That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself by eating well, exercising and getting plenty of water and sleep. If you aren’t experiencing the common symptoms, take advantage of the energy you have to start planning for baby’s arrival. Another thing on your to-do list: shopping for maternity clothes. Your 18 week baby bump may be showing!
Your 18 weeks pregnant belly is rapidly expanding—all the stretching and pressure it’s causing are what’s prompting those symptoms.
Weight gain at 18 weeks pregnant is recommended to be about 1 to 2 pounds per week for women of normal BMI, whether you’re having one baby or you’re 18 weeks pregnant with twins. Let your doctor know if you have any concerns with your weight gain so far. Drastic or sudden weight gain or weight loss could be signs of a problem.
If you’re 18 weeks pregnant and not showing much, everything’s probably a-okay. Remember: Every pregnant body is different, and your uterus will grow up and out of your pelvis at a slightly different time than another pregnant woman’s does.
You’re busy taking care of yourself to help baby grow! You still have a couple of weeks until you reach the midpoint of your pregnancy, when you’ll likely have your next big doctor appointment. You can also look forward to an ultrasound, where you get to check in on your little one.
What the heck is baby doing inside your 18 weeks pregnant belly? A lot! Your 18-week fetus is working their muscles and practicing all kinds of moves. Can you believe baby is yawning, hiccupping, sucking and swallowing? They’re twisting, rolling, punching and kicking, too—and are big enough that you might be able to feel them doing it!
If you’re 18 weeks pregnant with twins, there’s a membrane that separates your two 18-week fetuses. As they wiggle around in there, they’ll push fluid around and the membrane will shift slightly—you’d probably be able to see that on an 18 weeks pregnant ultrasound.
At 18 weeks pregnant, the big ultrasound is on your calendar for sometime in the next few weeks. The mid-pregnancy ultrasound (a.k.a. anatomy scan or level-two ultrasound) is a detailed examination of baby’s entire body. It’s a pretty cool peek inside! Your 18-week fetus will be measured to make sure their growth is on track. Major organs will be checked for proper development. And amniotic fluid, placenta location and fetal heart rate will all be examined as well, to be sure baby is thriving.
For moms-to-be who are 18-weeks pregnant with twins (or other multiples), both (or all) babies’ anatomy will be scanned at one appointment.
If you want to know whether you’re having a boy or girl, the technician will be able to tell you with about 95 percent certainty at the mid-pregnancy ultrasound—as long as baby moves into a position where their organs are visible. Some babies don’t exactly cooperate!
What does baby look like at 18 weeks in the womb?
Baby’s face and head are taking shape. The facial features and ears are moving into place—but you need to wait a while to see if they have your eyes or your partner’s nose! Also, an 18-week fetus now has a working digestive system, as well as a light coating of hair all over their body that’s called lanugo.
Get a leg up on cramps
In addition to drinking plenty of water, you can help prevent leg cramps by including the right nutrients in your diet. Make sure you’re getting calcium, magnesium and potassium, either in your prenatal vitamin or in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Treat your feet
Your feet may be swollen thanks to all that extra fluid you’re carrying in your body to support baby at 18 weeks, and gravity isn’t helping matters. You can find some relief by using pillows to elevate your feet above heart level—another good reason to relax and get some rest when you can! If swelling is especially bad, or you’re on your feet a lot, try compression socks.
Stretch it out
Show your aching back some TLC with a couple of simple yoga-style stretches that ease pain. Start in tabletop position on your hands and knees with a flat back, and then round your back upwards as you gently pull your stomach up in cat pose. Hold it for a few seconds before resuming tabletop. Child’s pose is also great—and it’s super relaxing too!
Buy a body pillow
If you’re craving a good night’s sleep (and really, who isn’t?), try using a pregnancy pillow. It can help you maintain a comfortable sleeping position on your side to accommodate your 18 weeks pregnant belly, and it can even reduce back and hip pain too.
Reminders for the week:
Medical content was reviewed Novemember 2020 by Patricia Pollio, MD, a New York-based ob-gyn and director of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York.