Your Pregnancy, Week 16
By Dr. Jen Lincoln (Bundoo®). Edited by Dr. Kate Dudek
There are lots of reasons to enjoy week 16. You are likely to experience a surge of energy, and it won’t be too long before you finally start to feel your baby moving.
At this point in your pregnancy, as your bump is becoming more obvious and the difficult early signs of pregnancy have passed, it is a good time to consider your lifestyle. Many women start to reassess their diet, weight and daily environment at this stage, putting in measures to ensure that all are as healthy as possible.
If you have been managing to eat healthily up to now and taking your prenatal vitamins, congratulations. Whilst normally, regular snacking throughout the day is a bad habit, during pregnancy it is okay to snack occasionally, but try and ensure you stick to healthy options. It is also a time to really embrace your weight gain, provided it is happening at a steady, consistent rate. With regards to exercise, the same holds true; maintaining a moderate level of activity throughout pregnancy is the ideal scenario for your health and the health of your unborn child.
You might find that around this time, everyone around you will have a trick, or a tip, for determining your baby’s gender. You might have already heard about some of these:
- If you’re carrying low, it means you’re having a girl.
- If your feet are cold, it’s a boy.
- If you sweat more, it’s a girl.
- If the foetal heart rate is above 140 beats per minute, you’re having a girl.
- If your linea nigra (the dark line that will develop on your stomach) goes up past your belly button, it’s a boy.
- If you are constantly hungry, it’s a boy.
- If you crave citrus, it’s a girl.
Whilst you can have fun with these old wives’ tales, the truth is, there are only a few ways to be certain of your baby’s gender, and these methods rely on your doctor for confirmation. They include ultrasound, non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) blood tests, and sampling the placenta or amniotic fluid via chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 14 weeks. Although sizes can vary, your baby is probably between 10 and 13 cm long and the size of a Haas avocado. The baby will still only weigh about 85 g, but your expanding uterus will now weigh almost 260 g.
As your baby’s organs continue to develop, his or her world is beginning to open up. As well as reacting to light, it is likely that your baby can now hear your voice and other noises from outside the womb, including music. Whilst it is unlikely that even playing Mozart on repeat will guarantee a future musical prodigy, this does highlight the importance of communicating regularly with your baby. It is quite special to think that your baby will, even now, be starting to recognise the sound of their mother’s voice and identifying it as a source of protection, comfort and familiarity. There is also evidence that babies will recognise songs they heard inside the womb after they are born.
From a developmental point of view, your baby’s legs are stretching out and his or her proportions are becoming more and more ‘normal’. If you could see your baby now, you would probably be struck by the fine layer of lanugo hair covering the skin and the total absence of body fat. We tend to think of healthy babies as chubby, but by week 16 of pregnancy, all of your baby’s energy has gone into creating their fundamental body structures, including the organs and bones. Whilst the skin is present, it is still virtually transparent at this stage. As such, there has been no spare energy to generate body fat, but that will change quickly over the coming weeks and months.
This is also the time that you might start to feel your baby move. Many mothers-to-be are very excited about feeling their baby move for the first time, although it can be very difficult to identify early on, particularly for first time mothers. The early movements are known as “quickening”, and initially may just feel like wind, or a subtle fluttering in the stomach. If you have already had a baby, you may feel the movements earlier, or recognise them sooner, but don’t worry if it takes a few more weeks for you to really be certain.
"Many women wonder just how many ultrasounds they will have throughout their pregnancy, and it really depends on you and your baby."
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