Second trimester - Weeks 17 - 19

Second trimester - Weeks 17 - 19

Weeks 17 - 19

Week 17

Overview

Your little one is about 13 centimetres or 5.11 inches in length (from crown to rump) and weighs roughly 140g (4.938oz). Blood is now pumping around his or her circulatory system at a great pace. The baby’s little eyebrows, eyelashes and hair are also starting to form. With all of this development going on inside of you, your tummy may also be growing at a pretty fast pace right now.

Week 17

Your baby’s development at this stage

Your little one’s skeleton continues to develop from being soft cartilage and is forming into a harder bone. The umbilical cord, which is the link to the placenta for nutrients, is also growing thicker and stronger. Your baby is about the size of a turnip and he or she is able to move his or her joints and the little sweat glands are also developing.

Changes in your life as your baby grows

You may start to feel slightly off balance right now, this is because your centre of gravity is changing as your belly is growing, this makes you feel slightly unsteady at times. Try to avoid any situations where you may risk falling and possibly wear low-heeled shoes.

Another development at this stage, is that your eyes may become drier. This is also thought to be caused by the hormonal changes in your body. You can opt for some over-the-counter drops to lubricate them.

What to do at this stage

If you haven’t already, you may want to start a list of baby names. 

Week 18

Overview

Now being 14.2 centimetres long and weighing 190g (6.702oz), your little one is growing at quite the pace. Your baby’s ears are now properly developed enough to hear you, so you may want to start talking to him or her so that they can get to know you.  

Week 18

Your baby’s development at this stage

Your baby is now about the size of a ball pepper, and his or her little arms and legs are constantly moving as the muscles are developing and getting used to motions and movements.

The baby’s blood vessels can also now be seen through the translucent skin. Protective coverings known as myelin, are starting to form around the nerves, this process will continue up until the baby is born. If you are expecting a little girl, the fallopian tubes and uterus are in place and have formed. If you are expecting a little boy, then his genitals can now be seen, but he may hide them during an ultrasound.

Changes in your life as your baby grows

You may be experiencing an increase in your appetite and cravings for food round about now. Try to swap out unhealthy treats for more nutritional ones. You might want to also slip into those maternity pants as other clothes are too tight at this point. Your cardiovascular system is going through some dramatic changes, during your second trimester you may also suffer from a drop in your blood pressure. Try not to get up too quickly after lying down and try to sit down if you feel dizzy at all so as to not risk a fall.

Tests and what to do at this stage

If you haven’t had an ultrasound yet, then you may have one coming up. The procedure for an ultrasound is painless and involves the midwife or doctor checking up on your baby’s growth, checking for any birth defects, making sure the umbilical cord and placenta are healthy and if your due date needs to be adjusted.

During this procedure, the doctor will put a clear lotion on your tummy and use a machine to get a visual view inside to see your baby. He or she will likely be sucking their thumb and moving around quite a bit. You may also want to have your doctor print these ultrasound images out for you and your partner to start a photo album with and to show family and friends.

Here is what you need to know about having an ultrasound:

  • An ultrasound will be able to tell you the sex of your baby – if you want to know it of course!
  • It is an anatomical survey of the entire foetus.
  • It is able to detect about 50% of any heart defects.
  • An ultrasound uses a transducer which is placed over your abdomen and uses soundwaves to create a visual image of the foetus on a monitor.
  • If any issues are detected during an ultrasound then you may have to decide if you want to have an amniocentesis (amnio) – this test detects any genetic or chromosomal issues your baby may have. 

Some doctors may also suggest that you start doing Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor for birth. These exercises also help to prevent any urine leaks experienced during or after your pregnancy. Kegels also increase the circulation to your vaginal area which can help speed up your healing process after giving birth naturally.

This is how to do them:

  • Tighten the muscles that are around the vagina as if you are trying to stop the flow of your urine. Using a squeezing and lifting movement, continue to breathe normally as you perform them.
  • Hold each movement for about 10 second and then release. Do these in sets of 10 and try to do them about four times a day.

Week 19

Overview

At week 19 your little one is about 15.3 centimetres from crown to rump and weighs around 240g (8.466oz). Your baby has now formed a waxy coating around his or her body as your amniotic fluid may irritate his or her skin, this waxy substance is known as vernix caseosa and is normally gone before the baby is born. Your little one is also forming a thin layer of fat under the skin for warmth. As your baby’s hair is growing, your hair may also be thickening. This is due to your normal cycle of hair shedding slowing down as the baby grows – so enjoy your luscious mane while you can. 

Week 19

Your baby’s development at this stage

The sensory development of your baby is now in full-swing! The little brain is designating specialised areas for taste, smell, vision, hearing and touch. There is some research that suggests that your little one will be hearing you properly now. The arms and legs are finally proportional, as is the rest of the body.

Your baby is now about the size of a plump tomato. The kidneys are making urine and the little hairs on the scalp are sprouting up.

Changes in your life as your baby grows

You may start thinking that you are pretty big in size at this point in your pregnancy, but you still have some growing to do! You may suffer from some aches and pains in your lower abdomen. This is probably due to some round ligament pain. These ligaments are supporting your uterus and are stretching and growing to accommodate your growing baby. If this pain becomes severe, then contact your doctor, otherwise it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

Your skin may also be changing, the palms of your hands are probably red from the extra oestrogen. You may notice some darkened skin in areas as a result of a temporary increase in pigment. If these darker areas form on your cheeks, forehead or upper lip, this is known as chloasma, otherwise referred to as the mask of pregnancy. Any current freckles you may have may also darken, as well as your underarms, nipples, vulva and inner thighs – this is all perfectly normal. There may also be a dark line running from your pubic bone to your belly button, this is known as linea nigra.

All of these darkened areas are likely to fade after you have given birth. For now, it is best that you stay out of the sun as this may intensify the pigment even more.

What to do at this stage

This may be a good time to think about your childcare options for when you have to go back to work. You may even want to look into getting part time help for when you are home.

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