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18 Weeks Pregnant

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Your Baby

Check out what happened last week.

One of a kind. This week, your little one is developing one of the characteristics that will make her unique: fingerprints. Pads of fat accumulating on the fingertips and toes will turn into distinguishing swirling lines.

Prepping the plumbing. "What happens when this stuff goes down into my stomach?" The large intestine has been tacked down to the back of the abdominal wall, and many digestive glands are forming. This developing digestive system has been going through its paces for several weeks already: The fetus is swallowing amniotic fluid, which then makes its way through the stomach and intestines. Now, that fluid combines with dead cells and secretions in the intestines to form meconium. Meconium is the black, tarry substance that will eventually make up your baby's first messy diaper.

Measuring up. The fetus weighs up to 7 ounces and is about 6.5 to 7 inches, top to bottom.


Your Pregnancy

Advice overload. You may notice that everyone, from your mother-in-law to complete strangers, feels compelled to offer advice about your pregnancy. How much you should exercise, what you should eat, whether you should work—no topic is off limits, it seems. While unsolicited opinions can be annoying, try to take them in stride, and don't feel you need to explain your decisions. A simple "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind" should do the trick. Try to remember that people get excited about a baby-in-the-making, and that they mean well. Also, don't be surprised if the advice "on the street" is different from your provider's recommendations, as many aspects of medical thinking have changed over the years.

Help for the lightheaded. Do you feel dizzy sometimes? It's no wonder: Your heart is working 40 to 50 percent harder than it did before you were pregnant. This industry, combined with the pressure of your growing uterus on blood vessels, can occasionally leave you feeling faint, particularly when you get up quickly. Be sure to rest frequently. Lie down on your left side for a few minutes several times a day to increase your circulation. Low blood sugar can also lead to wooziness. Eating a piece of fruit is a great way to keep you on your feet and stave off the munchies.

Mini moves. Are those gas bubbles or tiny feet kicking against your belly? Most women first feel the fetus's movements between 16 and 20 weeks. Because your little one is still so small, what you feel probably won't be a forceful kick but a gentle fluttering, as if you've got a case of the butterflies.

From the experts. Because your vaginal discharge changes during pregnancy, it may be difficult to tell whether you've developed an infection. "Most pregnant women will notice a white, milky discharge, called leukorrhea," says Elaine Zwelling, R.N., Ph.D. "The leukorrhea is normal and increases in amount as you near your due date." However, if the discharge changes color and consistency or is accompanied by irritation or odor, you may have an infection. Learn what's normal and what isn't—and how to reduce your chances of infection—by clicking here.

 
 
 
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