Pregnancy Encyclopedia – Understanding Week 18
Congratulations! You are almost halfway through your pregnancy. The health care provider now recommends a detailed ultrasound examination to check your unborn baby’s development.
Now, your baby’s about eight inches long. It weighs a little more than five ounces. The baby is wrapped by the familiar sound of your beating heart and rushing blood. Surprisingly, the baby is also conscious of noises from the outside world now!
Your uterus now measures a size of a cantaloupe and lies just towards the south of your navel. You may feel slightly off balance as it grows and shifts to your center of gravity. The hormone ‘relaxin’ loosens your joints and twists your posture and take a toll on your lower back.
You will be hungry more than ever. An increase in appetite is pretty common about now. You need to make wise food choices. The waistline is growing bigger and your cardiovascular system is undergoing dramatic changes. Your blood pressure will probably be lower than usual.
The Ultrasound Detection
The process will detect fetal measurements of the head, abdomen, and femur and unborn baby’s age based on these measurements. The fetal heart rate and rhythm is checked by a sonographer who charts your baby’s heart rate to make sure it falls into the normal range of between 120-160 beats per minute. The fetal head, chest, and abdomen are closely evaluated to make sure they are in the right location and functioning normally. The fetal face is checked by the sonographer to take a close look at the unborn baby’s face and analyze signs of cleft lip and/or palate.
During the eighteenth week of pregnancy, fetal spine is evaluated to rule out neural tube defects. Fetal extremities are examined via checking unborn baby’s arms, legs, hands, and feet. Doctors suggest close evaluation of appearance and location of placenta. The sonographer will also check placenta to make sure it appears healthy and is in the right position.
Amniotic fluid is also assessed because too much or too little amniotic fluid signals a problem with your unborn baby’s development. Uterus and surrounding areas are checked by the sonographer. He makes sure the cervix is closed.
From now on, it helps you to lie down on your side. You may even try sleeping partly tilted to one side. Lying flat on your back can make uterus compress a major vein, leading to decreased blood return to your heart. Also place a pillow behind you or under your hip for added comfort.