Your Weekly Pregnancy Development: Week 18

Your baby might hear sounds outside the womb

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Week 18

A new world of sound

Week 18: Your baby could start to hear you

During your 18th week of pregnancy, your baby's number one priority is growing. Take a look at some of the developmental changes that are happening at Week 18:

  • This week, your baby is about 5-1/2 inches long, or about the length of a large tomato.
  • Your baby's skeleton continues to harden during the 18th week of your pregnancy. His leg bones and inner ear bones are the first to ossify (harden).
  • Your baby now can hear. He might hear your heartbeat or your tummy gurgle.
  • He might hear loud sounds coming from outside the womb.
  • You might feel your baby start to move — which might feel like little flutters — as early as the 18th week of pregnancy. This is called quickening. The next time you see your doctor, let him or her know about any fetal movement.

Week 18

Your Week 18 nutrition and health

Keep track of your daily servings

As you move further into your second trimester, make sure you are eating right every day. Here's a reminder of what — and how much — you should be eating daily:

  • 3 cups of calcium-rich foods, including low-fat milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese
  • 3 cups of vegetables (at least 2 cups should be folate-rich choices, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or spinach)
  • 2 cups of fruit, such as apples, pears, and strawberries
  • 8 ounces of whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, or wild rice
  • 6 1/2 ounces of lean protein and legumes such as lean ground beef, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, almonds, and lentils

Week 18

What you can expect at your next checkup and ultrasound

Around the 18th week of pregnancy, you probably are seeing your doctor for another prenatal visit.

  • This is a good time to review your current diet with your doctor to help evaluate if you should increase or decrease eating any particular foods to help you get the nutrients you need.
  • Your doctor will check your weight, blood pressure, urine, and other vitals.
  • Your doctor might check your uterus and measure the height of your fundus (the top portion of your uterus) between the 18th week of pregnancy and the 34th week.
  • If you have felt your baby move, let your doctor know — these first movements are called quickening.
  • Knowing when your baby started moving and the frequency of his kicks can help your doctor do two things. Your doctor can estimate your baby's fetal age and your due date more accurately.
  • Depending on your medical history, age, and other information, around the 18th week of pregnancy, your doctor might talk to you about amniocentesis, a test that checks for genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.

18 weeks pregnant: your baby's first pictures

  • During this month of pregnancy, you might have an ultrasound, which is sometimes called a sonogram. (You already might have had one.) An ultrasound is a medical imaging tool that uses high-frequency sound waves to safely view internal images of your body and of your baby.
  • These pictures of your baby let you see your baby's heart, head, brain, arms, legs, spine, genitalia, and other developing parts.
  • By your 18th week of pregnancy, the ultrasound can reveal:
    • Whether you're having a girl or a boy
    • Fetal age of your baby
    • Location of your placenta
    • Fetal position, movement, breathing, and heartbeat
    • Amount of amniotic fluid
    • Number of fetuses
    • Length of your cervix
Having difficulty sleeping?

If your growing body and baby make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, try body pillows — they can provide extra support and cushion across your entire body to help you get a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Keep learning about your baby's development every week
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