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Pregnancy Week 18

What to expect when you're 18 weeks pregnant

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
pregnancy marker artichoke

Baby development at 18 weeks pregnant

Are you feeling a little out of sorts? It’s not unusual for women to feel off balance at 18 weeks pregnant.

Your 18-week-old baby now measures 5.5 inches long (139.7 millimeters), which is about the size of an artichoke.

Week 18 is a big week of growth for your little one. This week, your baby is starting to develop their nervous system, and their ears are now fully formed — baby can officially hear, so it’s a good time to start talking to them.

Baby is also starting to form their very own little fingerprints. The process begins in week five, but they don't fully develop until the end of your sixth month. Right now, the layers of the skin are growing, including the basal layer, inner dermis and epidermis. This rapid growth causes folding of the skin, which is part of what creates the unique ridges of a fingerprint.

Week 18 pregnant belly

Most women can expect to gain roughly 1 to 2 pounds per week during the second trimester. At 18 weeks pregnant, that is roughly 7 to 16 pounds. If you are over or under that, don’t worry! You have plenty of time to get to where you need to be. If you have any questions about your baby bump, ask your health care provider.

Week 18 pregnancy symptoms

There is a lot going on right now! Between your growing body, new discomforts and the emotions that come along with expecting a baby, you may be feeling a lot of physical and emotional pressures. Take some time to slow down and unwind. You’re almost to the halfway mark, so try to enjoy this time.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends sleeping on your side around this time, and it’s even better if you can sleep on your left side. Side sleeping is recommended — sleeping on your back can cause the entire weight of your expanding uterus to put pressure on the veins in your abdomen. This can reduce blood flow to the baby. Sleeping on the left side is considered ideal because it allows for optimal blood flow.

  • Fetal movement: Now is the time you may start to feel the baby moving around in your belly. If you haven’t felt anything yet, don’t worry! It may take a few more weeks before you are able to recognize these movements.
  • Edema: Swelling in the feet and ankles, known as edema, is common during pregnancy. Reduce any unwanted swelling by taking short walks, staying hydrated and not standing on your feet for too long.
  • Sleeping discomfort: The weight of your baby may be leading to some discomfort during sleep. Specially designed pregnancy body pillows are a lifesaver for many women.
  • Braxton Hicks: Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular contractions that shouldn’t cause you too much discomfort. Talk to your OB-GYN If you begin to experience them frequently or they become painful.
  • Varicose veins: All that pressure on your circulatory system is causing new veins to pop up. Deep purple and occasionally elevated veins are normal in pregnancy. Keep moving and stay hydrated to prevent varicose veins.
  • Itchy boobs and belly: As your baby and body grow, your skin is stretching thinner. This makes it more sensitive. Find a good cream to relieve the itch and make sure you have soft, nonirritating fabrics in your maternity wardrobe.
  • Stretch marks: Your stretching and thinning skin may become susceptible to stretch marks. Not all women end up with stretch marks, though. Drink plenty of water and use a rich cocoa butter or other stretch mark cream to keep your skin nourished.
  • Heartburn: Feeling the burn? This is a very common pregnancy symptom and is largely attributed to your baby taking up more room in your body, leaving little behind for your stomach and esophagus.

pregnant woman having contraction

Pregnancy checklist at 18 weeks

At week 18 in your pregnancy, you may start to notice some new discomforts. Given that your body is working so hard to support a growing baby, this is totally normal.

Reminders for
Week 18
  • Keep up with tests and appointments. Between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, you will have an ultrasound to measure your placenta growth and view the baby’s organs. This is also the time frame you’re likely to be offered the quad screen test and other diagnostic tests. The quad screening test screens for genetic and spinal cord abnormalities. Optional diagnostic tests may include amniocentesis, CVS or cordocentesis.
  • Get a pregnancy pillow. With an 18 week pregnant belly, you may find it hard to sleep -- and even harder if you must transition to a sleep position that isn’t your preference. Now is a great time to invest in a pregnancy pillow; they provide added support and comfort during the night.
  • Eat a diet rich in omega-3 acids. Getting the nutrients you and your baby need is crucial, and omega-3 acids are an essential part of a healthy diet. Eat heart-healthy nuts, fish (in limited quantities) and broccoli to help develop your little one’s nervous system.
  • Modify your workout routine. Now is also the time to remove any flat-on-your-back workout moves from your routine. You should also avoid deep knee bends, back bends and too much jumping.

Explore pregnancy by week
Week 17 | Week 19


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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.