Congratulations! You’ve finally made it to 16 weeks pregnant and are hopefully starting to feel much better coming through all of the symptoms the first trimester brought you. At sixteen weeks, you are now four months pregnant, almost halfway through your pregnancy!
Your uterus is expanding reaching halfway between the navel and pubic bone. The round ligaments supporting it are becoming thicker and stretching out to offer support to its growing size. This will often lead to lower back pain when standing or twisting. The pain shouldn’t be intense but if it worsens be sure to contact your doctor. With the rapid growth of your uterus, it begins to press into your other organs commonly creating pregnancy constipation. Another symptom of the changes in your body can be varicose veins resulting from the increased pressure in your pelvis and legs due to your blood volume expanding. While most women seem to benefit from and enjoy healthy glowing skin, some are more prone to breakouts, unfortunately. Check with your doctor about using products to treat those stubborn spots as some will not be safe to use during pregnancy. Another symptom that could get annoying is a constant stuffy nose! Of course, an increase in hormones is to blame for that perpetually stuffy nose and if you can’t seem to find relief know that it will go away after the baby is born. Some common ways to treat a stuffy nose naturally, which is best for you and your growing baby are using a humidifier when you sleep as well as using an extra pillow; drinking plenty of water throughout the day; using saline drops or spray, and breathing in the steam from a warm shower. Another uncomfortable and sometimes alarming symptom is increased vaginal discharge. While uncomfortable, this actually is to prevent infections in the birth canal and ultimately protect your baby. Most products used to “clean” will rather just irritate and actually lead to infection down there as well.
Aside from some of the more negative symptoms that come with this time in pregnancy, the flip side of these symptoms is often the most enjoyable part of pregnancy! You should have less nausea (morning sickness should diminish or disappear), more stable moods (less back and forth and unexpected tears), and perhaps that “GLOWING” skin that everyone raves about. While there can be some negative symptoms there are still a few positive symptoms. Expect thicker hair and faster-growing nails contributing to that lovely pregnancy glow. Your breasts will continue to grow larger preparing for milk production and breastfeeding, preparing to support your baby with colostrum when it is born.
Your baby has made great strides in its development and after sixteen weeks it has become much more human-looking and is starting to become by any definition CUTE. At sixteen weeks, your baby is growing rapidly and on course to double his weight and add several inches in the coming weeks. He is about the size of an avocado or orange measuring about 4 1/2 inches from head to rump and 3 1/2 ounces in weight.
Many exciting changes are taking place in your little one. On his still translucent scalp, a unique hair pattern is forming even though the hair is not discernible yet. Tiny fingernails and toenails are starting to sprout as new nerves help your baby master coordinated movements in his long, thin arms and legs. He is becoming more forceful in his movements, something you’ll begin to feel soon. His tiny heart is working furiously to fuel his systems, pumping up to 25 quarts of blood a day, a number that will only continue to grow as he gets further along. His little eyes are working though his eyelids will remain closed for now. He reacts to light by turning his face away. Taste buds are also beginning to form and he might even be sucking on his own thumb for comfort. He can hear and recognize your voice and his ears are almost in their final positions. Your baby’s lifeline and closet connection you, his umbilical cord is fully developed. It is made up of one vein and two arteries covered by a thick gooey substance called Wharton’s jelly.
At sixteen weeks, every pregnant mother and her bump are unique. The growth and visibility of your bump are largely based on pre-pregnancy weight and pregnancy weight gain as well as your baby’s growth rate. Some women at sixteen weeks pregnant have a significant bump already while others still do not look pregnant. Try not to compare your progress to anyone else’s and trust your doctor’s expert opinion about your body and your baby’s relative size.
At this point in your pregnancy, another “first” will happen soon! One of the most precious moments a mother can expect is feeling her little one move inside of her. Some mothers experience fetal movements as early as sixteen weeks, but do not be disappointed if you do not feel them until eighteen or even twenty weeks, especially for you first-time mothers. Some of the earliest movements feel rather strange like bubbles popping, butterflies fluttering through your abdomen, or even popcorn being popped! As the weeks continue, the baby’s movements will continue to develop and become stronger and much more frequent.
At this point, the energy you began to feel depleted in the first trimester should partially return, giving you the ability to do more again. With that regained energy you can also expect a rise in your sex drive again. As long as your doctor has not given you any restrictions pertaining to intercourse, you can expect to have healthy sex with your partner at this time. The second trimester is often the most enjoyable for mothers and many enjoy these benefits before heading into the dreaded third trimester of pregnancy.
One thing to be vigilant of during the second trimester, starting around sixteen weeks, is your pregnancy weight gain. Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, your doctor will have advised you on your pregnancy weight gain goal. Some women will need to gain more weight to support their growing baby while others can expect to be told to try to gain less weight as their pregnancy continues. A healthy lifestyle and dietary plan will help maintain your pregnancy weight gain. Most doctors advise an extra 340 calories a day for the second trimester of pregnancy. However, check with your doctor before deciding to add or cut back on any dietary needs. It is very important to continue to support the growth of your baby even when you feel ill or you feel you’ve gained too much pregnancy weight. Eating healthy foods that are nutrient-rich and exercising regularly should be the only thing you focus on for the rest of your pregnancy when it comes to your weight. It is also very important to take into consideration that every woman and her baby are unique and what might be normal for one will be unusual in another pair. Make healthy choices and your baby will continue to prosper.
Seeing your doctor at sixteen weeks pregnant will often mean you have a four-month ultrasound scheduled. At this point, your urine will continue to be tested for early signs of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. If there are indicators, your doctor will order a blood sugar test earlier than usual to help pinpoint your likelihood of developing gestational diabetes. Your doctor will soon begin to measure your growing baby and belly in the most noninvasive way possible by measuring fundal height. Your fundal height, the distance between the pubic bone and the top of the uterus, should measure the same as the number of weeks you are pregnant plus or minus two centimeters. At sixteen weeks, your fundal height should be 14 to 18 cm. This measurement allows your doctor to keep tabs on your baby and its growth rate without having to do an ultrasound every visit. This ultrasound can also be used to determine your baby’s gender if they are in the position for it. Most methods of determining the baby’s gender outside of an ultrasound and a trained technician are not reliable. There are many old wive’s tales about how to do so: Chinese birthing calendar, where you are carrying your pregnancy, and the helpful swinging a ring over your belly trick, however, the best way to see accurate results are to ultimately SEE for yourself!
At this time, your doctor may advise you to begin sleeping on your side to maximize blood flow and nutrients to your growing baby. To make sleeping easier and more comfortable, consider getting a body pillow to keep you in a propped upside position all through the night. Don’t worry if you wake up on your back or stomach, just turn back over when you realize that you’ve moved in your sleep.
Now is the perfect time to begin planning several fun activities to take place in the second part of your pregnancy. Consider planning and taking a “babymoon” before your third trimester when you are too tired and achy for much fun Even if you can’t go on a big trip, one night out or a long weekend can provide stress relief for not only you but for your partner. If you already have one or more children, some time away can help provide much-needed rest and relaxation before you add to the brood. Another fun activity will be the baby shower! Remember to send out invites and registry notices in a timely fashion so that you are not left in need on the big day. Try to load your registry with options to cover everyone who would love to be a part of your party but perhaps cannot spend as much or any on gifts. Housecleaning and meal cooking option coupons are a great alternative to traditional gifts. Have fun in the coming weeks shopping for maternity clothes to fit your ever-growing bump!
You are almost halfway there, only 24 weeks to go!
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