Your baby is now the size of a bell pepper in length, measuring five and a half (5.5) inches from crown to rump and weighing about seven (7) ounces. You are in your fifth month of pregnancy.
During week 18 of pregnancy, your baby is now big enough for you to feel moving around inside your womb. The arms and legs are bending, kicking, and punching as your baby twists and rolls around. Your baby still has plenty of room to move around, too, because he or she is only about as long as a large bell pepper. Your baby continues to develop reflexes such sucking, swallowing, and yawning. If you could peer inside your abdomen, you might see that your baby can also stretch and make facial expressions including smiling and frowning. You may also feel when your baby gets the hiccups now Your baby can hear and listens to your heartbeat and digestive sounds as well as to the sound of your voice and other external noises. Certain sounds may cause more movement as will a light shone onto your bare abdomen.
Your baby’s skin is still as thin as paper and translucent, revealing the blood vessels just below the surface. During week 18 of pregnancy, the taste buds begin to develop. Your baby can now distinguish between sweet and bitter tastes as the flavor of the amniotic fluid changes depending on the foods that you eat. The fingers and toes now have unique toe and fingerprint patterns. A protective covering called myelin is also beginning to form around the nerves. Myelination will continue until your baby is one year old. If your baby is a girl, her fallopian tubes and uterus have developed and are positioned in place in her abdomen. If your baby is a boy, his external genitals may be visible on an ultrasound.
Many expectant mothers begin to experience back pain during week 18 of pregnancy. Your uterus is now the size of a cantaloupe, shifting your center of gravity, pulling the lower back forward and pushing the abdomen out. Your baby bump is quite obvious now, and you may need to invest in some maternity clothes. Due to the increased blood volume in your body, your heart is working 40% to 50% harder now to support your pregnancy. Your blood pressure should be lower than usual. In fact, high blood pressure during pregnancy is a symptom of a dangerous condition known as pre-eclampsia. Other signs of pre-eclampsia including extreme swelling, protein in the urine, and rapid weight gain. If you develop pre-eclampsia, you will be monitored closely to ensure the best outcome for your baby and yourself. Other symptoms during week 18 of pregnancy include varicose veins, leg cramps, flatulence, nasal congestion, bleeding gums, mild swelling of the ankles and feet, stretch marks, and changes to the nails, hair, and skin.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
18 weeks pregnant: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy-week-by-week/18-weeks-pregnant_70776
18th week of pregnancy: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/weekbyweek/week18.htm
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Your pregnancy: 18 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-18-weeks_1107.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 17-20: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-17-20
Ultrasound of 18 Week Fetus: http://www.silverbulletimaging.com/images.html
Baby Bump at 18 Weeks http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Myllissa_18_weeks.jpg
Bell Peppers: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yellow_and_green_Bell_peppers.JPG