18 Weeks Pregnant

Your baby is the size of a

sweet potato

Now you’ve reached 18 weeks pregnant, you may observe changes in the way you look and feel as your baby continues to grow and develop. We have outlined some common symptoms you may experience and provided helpful insights on your baby’s growth and those little movements you may start to feel at 18 weeks pregnant.

Highlights at 18 Weeks Pregnant

You've got a lot going on right now, and we've gathered a few highlights about being 18 weeks pregnant so you know what to look forward to:

  • At 18 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a sweet potato!

  • Bones are starting to harden in your little one's body.

  • Your baby may be starting to register sounds as their ears begin to stand out from the side of their head.

  • At 18 weeks pregnant or in the coming weeks, you may begin to feel your baby’s movements. Get ready for those tiny flutters in your belly.


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18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby’s Development

The developments your little one is making right now are super exciting and important. Here's the scoop on what's happening inside your belly:

  • Your baby's bones are starting to harden this week, a process called ossification. Some of the first to harden are the leg bones, collar bone, and inner ear.

  • The developing digestive system is going through its paces. Your baby swallows amniotic fluid, which makes its way through the stomach and intestines. That fluid will combine with dead cells and secretions in the intestines to form meconium—a black, tarry substance you'll see at the very first diaper change.

  • Around 18 weeks, your baby’s ears will begin to stand out from of the sides of the head and may even begin to register sounds.

  • Your baby will need bile to digest nutrients, and at 18 weeks, the gallbladder, which stores bile, may begin to work.

How Many Months Is 18 Weeks Pregnant?

You’ve heard your pregnancy described in weeks, but how many months is that? Though there are various methods of assigning the 40 weeks of pregnancy into months, at 18 weeks pregnant you’re likely in your fifth month of pregnancy, even if you haven’t noticed any belly bump or symptoms!

How Big Is a Baby at 18 Weeks Pregnant?

When you’re 18 weeks pregnant, the fetus is around the size of a sweet potato, measuring about 5 and a half inches long from crown to rump, and weighing around 7 ounces.

Your Baby: What Does 18 Weeks Pregnant Look Like?

The illustration below helps you visualize what your baby may look like inside your belly at 18 weeks pregnant:

Your Body at 18 Weeks Pregnant

At this stage of your pregnancy, you're experiencing changes in circulation, such as increased blood volume and rapidly expanding blood vessels, which can cause your blood pressure to drop. This can leave you feeling lightheaded if you’re not getting enough blood flow to your head and upper body.

You may also notice at 18 weeks of pregnancy that your feet are getting bigger. A part of this is due to swelling caused by water retention, known as edema, which can occur from the second trimester onward.

Hormones also play a part in growing feet. The pregnancy hormone relaxing, which relaxes your pelvic joints so your baby can fit through the birth canal, loosens the ligaments in your feet, causing the foot bones to spread. You can relieve the swelling with a footbath of cool water and by keeping your feet raised; don’t worry (and have fun!) if you need to head out shoe shopping for a bigger size.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

At 18 weeks pregnant, here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Dizzy spells. Your heart is working 40 to 50 percent harder than it did before you were pregnant. This effort, 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 side when you feel faint or dizzy. Low blood sugar can also lead to wooziness. Resting, lying down on your side, or eating a piece of fruit will help boost blood sugar levels and settle dizzy spells.

  • Mini moves. Most women first feel their little one’s movements between 16 and 20 weeks. Your baby is still small, so at around 18 weeks pregnant, it'll be more of a gentle flutter than a forceful kick in your belly.

  • Leg cramps.You may find that leg cramps strike at 18 weeks pregnant, usually at night. Try to stretch your calf muscles before bed and stay hydrated. A warm bath, hot shower, or a massage may help, too.

  • Nasal problems.Thanks toa surge in hormones and increased blood volume during pregnancy, which causes mucous membranes to swell up, you might experience nosebleeds and congestion.

  • Aches and pains in the back. Your growing stomach and hormonal changes can lead to aches and pains in your lower back area at 18 weeks pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.

How Big Is a Pregnant Belly at 18 Weeks?

Every pregnancy is unique, so perhaps your baby bump is barely there at 18 weeks pregnant, or maybe it’s becoming pretty obvious by now. At 18 weeks pregnant and in the coming weeks, your uterus is expanding and growing up and out of your pelvis, which may also be affecting your center of gravity.

If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel the baby begin to move inside your belly now or sometime soon. This fluttering feeling is known as quickening.

As your baby gets bigger, you may notice stronger movements and maybe even kicks in the weeks to come. Because each mom-to-be is different, you may feel this movement earlier (this is common if it’s not your first baby) or in some cases even later. So try not to worry if you don’t feel any baby movements at 18 weeks pregnant.

What Does 18 Weeks Pregnant Look Like?

For a better idea of what your belly might look like around 18 weeks pregnant, check out the image below.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

Your pregnancy is well underway at 18 weeks, so you may have a lot on your mind, from maintaining a healthy diet to dealing with pregnancy advice from every mother you meet. Here are some things to consider at 18 weeks pregnant:

  • Pay attention to omega-3 fatty acids. Getting the nutrients you and your baby need is important. Omega-3s promote healthy brain development for your little one both before and after birth. Look for foods that are rich in this nutrient, like salmon or other fatty fish, or get your omega-3s from vegetarian sources like flaxseed, broccoli, or walnuts. You can learn more about nutrition during pregnancy in our downloadable pregnancy guide.

  • Eat a healthy amount of food. You'll need some extra calories to support your growing baby, but you don’t actually need to eat for two. Once you reach the second trimester, this could be an extra 300 calories—half a sandwich and a glass of skim milk, say—on top of an average 2,000 calories a day. You can check our pregnancy weight gain calculator to help you keep track of your weight at 18 weeks pregnant.

  • Take unwanted pregnancy advice in stride. You may notice that everyone, from your mother-in-law to complete strangers, feels compelled to offer advice about your pregnancy. Although unsolicited opinions can be annoying, try not to let these bother you too much. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone. A simple "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind" should do the trick. Try to remember that people mean well and that they're excited for you. You may even find some of the parenting tips you receive are pretty helpful.

  • Trust your healthcare provider. In rare cases, the mid-pregnancy ultrasound reveals a problem associated with the placenta. Your healthcare provider will tell you if they suspect either placenta accreta or placenta previa and will be able to advise you on what care you will be given to lower any risks associated with either condition.

18 Weeks Pregnant: Questions for Your Healthcare Provider

Your healthcare provider is always there to provide you with information and guidance throughout pregnancy, addressing any and all of your questions and concerns. Here are some questions you might like to ask at 18 weeks pregnant:

  • Is my baby’s level of movement and position on track for 18 weeks pregnant?

  • What are the risks and benefits of any genetic tests that may be offered this trimester?

  • Do you recommend the maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (or MSAFP for short) screening test?

  • Will the mid-pregnancy ultrasound exam be scheduled at 18 weeks?

18 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

For a little help along your pregnancy journey, check out this to-do list:

□ Make a list of foods rich in omega-3s and add them to your weekly shopping list.

□ Start collecting books to read to your baby. Find ones you read and loved as a child, or head to the local library or bookstore. Here are some of the best baby books according to Pampers Parents.

□ Think about baby names for your little one! Check out our various lists of baby names, as well as our Baby Name Generator for inspiration.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.