Understanding your pregnancy: Week 16
A quick snapshot.
You will probably find yourself entering into a more practical, down to earth stage of your pregnancy from here on. Your energy levels have returned and you can focus on things other than how tired you feel. Now is the time to investigate your maternity leave entitlements from work and to plan how you will manage if you need to drop to one wage.
This is also the time to do your research into childcare if you think you will need it. Although this may seem very premature, centres often have limited spaces and long waiting lists. You may also want to start thinking about the room allocation at home. Which room will be the nursery?
What’s changing in your body
- This week the fundus, or top of your uterus, will be around 16cm from your pubic bone. This means you may well be starting to show and it is becoming obvious that you are pregnant.
- You may find your gums sensitive and bleed easily when you brush your teeth. Change your toothbrush regularly and avoid using any texture other than soft. Brush twice a day, floss daily and don't forget to brush the back of your tongue, where decay-causing bacteria breed. Make sure you have at least one dental check-up during your pregnancy. Gingivitis, inflammation of the gums, is one of the risk factors for premature labour so now, more than ever, your oral hygiene is important.
- You might still be prone to constipation and a general slowing down in the bowel department. Water, roughage, fruits, vegetables, grain based cereals and exercise are naturally effective remedies to keep the bowel working as it should.
- You are likely to have an increase in your vaginal discharge which, though annoying, is not necessarily a sign of infection. During pregnancy it is usually milky white or clear but unless it causes itching or smells, don't be concerned. The mucous producing cells in your vagina play a protective role in keeping infection at bay.
- You may experience sharp twinges of pain on the sides of your tummy now. Those ligaments and muscles supporting your enlarging uterus are getting a work out and sometimes they protest. Try not to move suddenly, sit when you can and avoid standing for long periods if possible. If this is affecting your work, ask your supervisor if you can modify your work area to make it a bit more comfortable for you.
How your emotions are affected
- You could feel as if your baby is taking over your body, not to mention your mind. It can be hard to concentrate on what needs to be done at work and home when your brain is so baby-focused. Try not to feel like you're the only one who feels this way, it is a common experience for pregnant women.
- Many women find that by the time they feel their baby's movements, at 17-18 weeks, they have come to accept the reality of having a baby. Don't be concerned if you're not awash with maternal feelings. What is important at this stage of your pregnancy is that you care for yourself and do not take unnecessary risks which could jeopardise your health or your baby’s.
- Having a baby can bring about changes in a woman's relationship with her own parents. You are likely to find yourself reflecting back on your own childhood, what it was like and how it influenced you. All of this pondering is completely normal and simply demonstrates the significance of parenting on a woman's life.
How your baby is growing
Second Trimester: Week 16
- Your baby is able to make sideways movements with their eyes. Though their eyelids are still sealed for protection, the muscles which control their eyes are starting to work. They scrunch up their eyes when bright light shines through your abdominal wall.
- Expect lots of movements from your baby this week, though unless you've been pregnant before, you're still blissfully unaware.
- This week your baby can open their little mouth and move their tiny lips. There's lots of practicing going on as well with breathing and swallowing movements, so that amniotic fluid is constantly being cycled through.
- Your baby has probably found their umbilical cord and is holding on to it. Don't worry that their grip is so tight it will restrict any blood flow, the baby will let go before there is any risk of that happening.
Tips for the week
- If you are pregnant and the flu is prevalent, think about getting immunised. The vaccine won't hurt your baby and is recommended as a protective factor for pregnant women.
- Consider taking a series of pregnancy photos so your can see how your tummy grows in the next few months. Don't forget to include your partner in a few shots as well; he's part of this whole pregnancy deal too. Video diaries are also a cute way of tracking pregnancy and the way it progresses.
- If you have older children this may be the time to tell them about the new baby. It isn't too long until you will be showing, if you aren't already, and they will soon be able to feel the baby kicking and moving around. The risk of miscarrying is low by this stage and it is important that siblings have the opportunity to build a sense of connection with the new baby.
- Don't forget the sunblock. You will find your freckles and moles a bit darker due to the increasing amount of melatonin (darkening pigment) in your skin. Most sunblocks are safe to use during pregnancy and won't harm you or your baby. Look for one which protects against both UVA (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays) and reapply as frequently as recommended.