Understanding your pregnancy: Week 19

Understanding your pregnancy: Week 19

A quick snapshot

Hooray! You're almost half way through your pregnancy. For some women it is still not obvious to anyone other than themselves that they are pregnant. Try not to feel despondent if you still only have a little "pod" which may only be obvious to you. Every woman will carry her pregnancy differently. It is not possible to assess the size, the well-being or even the sex of a baby simply by looking at how a pregnant mother's tummy appears, despite what your neighbour or your mother-in-law says.

It's time to start thinking about the baby's nursery. It's not too early to start planning for this and the practicalities of how to accommodate another little person into your household.

What’s changing in your body

  • You could find yourself getting breathless and not having as much stamina as you usually do. Your circulatory system is working very hard to pump blood efficiently around your body and through the umbilical cord to your baby. Make sure you have a diet high in iron and plenty of Vitamin C. This means red meat, green leafy vegetables, good quality cereals and fresh fruit.
  • You could be perspiring more easily as a result of your inner temperature being a little higher. Shower as frequently as you feel you need to. Avoid wearing synthetic fibres next to your skin and don't get overheated. You could find you need to sleep with a fan or air-conditioning on.
  • Watch out for urinary tract infections. Remember to wipe from front to back after you've been to the toilet and empty your bladder both before and after having sex. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid delaying to go to the toilet when you have the urge. Make sure you completely empty your bladder when you do go and try not to rush, it's not worth it.
  • Your uterus is almost at the level of your navel, so say goodbye to your waistline. Don't be too heartbroken because it will come back.
  • Heartburn may be your new companion this week. The smooth muscle fibres in the stomach and gut are being affected by your pregnancy hormones. This means that the acidic stomach contents which should be staying well down in your stomach, can easily regurgitate up your oesophagus (food pipe). You could feel a burning sensation after eating, especially spicy foods and curries. Some mothers get relief by eating bland meals and avoiding foods which are too rich and hard to digest. Try sleeping on a couple of pillows and check with your doctor or pharmacist if it's safe for you to take some antacids. Rediscover the soothing benefits of drinking a glass of cold milk, it can do wonders.

How your emotions are affected

  • You could be very preoccupied waiting for your baby to move. It's likely you've already felt some "quickening" and been excited by this. You'll find yourself with your hand on your tummy waiting for those little flickers to remind you that all is well. Just don't expect your partner to be able to feel them when you ask him to. Babies have a way of not cooperating when it suits us.
  • You could be very focused on the baby around this time and not too interested in other people. This is nature's way of helping mothers prioritise what needs to be done and to ignore what isn't as important. Don’t feel as if you'll never be able to think anything but the baby again, most things have a way of working themselves out.
  • If you are prone to depression or have a history of mental health disorders, this may be a stressful time for you. It is important that you have a health professional who is available to support you. Speak up if you are not feeling well and ask for help.

How your baby is growing

Second Trimester: Week 1918

  • Your baby is just over 14cm long, with skin so translucent that their veins are clearly visible. It is still too early for fat to be laid down, though this week a very special type of substance known as brown fat starts being produced. This is unique to babies and helps to keep their vital organs protected from temperature extremes in the newborn period.
  • Vernix caseosa, a white greasy substance, is covering most of your baby's skin. If your baby is born early it will still have traces of vernix over it but closer to term and over, vernix starts to deplete.
  • Your baby's kidneys are working well this week. They are producing urine which forms a fair percentage of the amniotic fluid. If you have an ultrasound performed this week it will be possible to see your baby's kidneys.
  • Your baby is developing more hair on their little head as well as on their body.
  • Your baby spends a lot of time sleeping but you'll become aware of times when it is more active and has cycles of moving around or even kicking. This is common when a mother is trying to sleep or has just gone to bed.

Tips for the week

  • Don't forget your ultrasound booking this week or next. Pregnancy ultrasounds in the second trimester are commonly done between weeks 18-20. They specifically look at various aspects of the baby's development including their spine, brain, heart, kidneys and other vital organs. If you want to know the sex of your baby, this is an ideal time to find out. If you don't, just make sure you tell the sonographer well beforehand that you'd prefer to keep it a surprise.
  • Talk to your baby if you haven't already started. At 19 weeks, your baby can hear you and your voice so this is an ideal time to start chatting to them. Get your partner in on the act if you can and feel for your baby's responses.
  • Think about doing some resistance exercises with weights. This will help maintain your weight and reduce the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes. Some pregnant women get together in a group with a personal trainer and enjoy the companionship and shared interests.