Pregnancy week 18

Your baby is now 20.5cm total length and weighs about 7 ounces (198 grams). The bones are continuing the ossification process. The pads of the fingers and toes are formed and the fingerprints are becoming more defined.

Your baby is making breathing movements and even hiccupping inside your womb. Later in pregnancy you’ll be able to feel these hiccups. Although the baby is only “breathing” fluid, it still needs to learn the movements it will need when it has to breathe air.

A growing bump and bigger breasts can mean one common ailment – back ache. Try to stay upright, avoid leaning too far forward or slouching. Make sure you bend your knees when lifting anything and keeping your head up. Even better, avoid heavy lifting and get someone else to do it for you. It’s time for Mr Dad-to-be to start massaging shoulders and alleviating muscle stress.

You can visit a chiropractor during pregnancy but make sure you tell them you are pregnant. Any sudden pains in your back or abdomen should merit a call to the GP right away.

You can make bedtime easier by making sure you have a wee before lying down, and have extra pillows so you can prop yourself up and find a comfortable resting position. Anything to aid sleep now is good, because many expectant mums find sleeping difficult about now.

You still have plenty of time to go, so you can distract yourself and keep your mood upbeat by thinking about baby names. Buy a book, or go through your family tree for ideas, or, of course, spend some time on the Internet. A laptop with wireless is a great idea so you can have it on your lap while you are resting in bed.

A shopping tip for you: choose maternity clothes made of cotton, if you can, so they will keep you cooler. Also, think about clothes that are ideal for breast-feeding. You can buy shirts and dresses, for example, with feeding flaps. you don’t want to have to go shopping twice – unless you are a compulsive shopper of course.

Examine your shoes as well. High heels will be uncomfortable and your feet may swell up anyway a little. Soft and flat-soled shoes are good, and you may need to go up a size.

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