Week 16

Your baby this week

100

GRAMS IN WEIGHT

Your baby's body will already be covered in lanugo.

Your baby’s heart is becoming stronger.

Your baby will also have started developing toenails.

How big is your baby?

Your baby is now the size of an avocado: he measures roughly 11.6cm (4 and a half inches) from top to bottom and weighs around 100 grams. But he isn’t planning on staying this size for long; he will go through a rapid growth spurt over the next few weeks, doubling his weight very quickly.

How big is your baby?

Your baby is now the size of an avocado: he measures roughly 11.6cm (4 and a half inches) from top to bottom and weighs around 100 grams. But he isn’t planning on staying this size for long; he will go through a rapid growth spurt over the next few weeks, doubling his weight very quickly.

What does your baby look like?

All your baby’s limbs are now fully formed, allowing him to practise stretching them. With formed fingers and thumbs, he is also able to suck his thumb (something he may well continue once he’s out of the womb) and he may even be able to test his grip by grabbing the umbilical cord and clasping his hands together in front of him.

Your baby’s face has also been developing over the past week. His facial muscles can now move, meaning he is starting to make expressions. The philtrum (the vertical groove between the base of the nose and the upper lip) has started to form, which gives his lip its Cupid’s bow shape.

At the moment, his skin is very thin – in fact, it’s translucent. All his blood vessels are visible through his skin. He will get some padding soon, though – fat tissue will develop in the coming weeks.

Changes in your body this week

One of the nicest things about pregnancy is the famous “glow” it gives you. As the volume of blood coursing around your body increases, you may find your skin looks a lot healthier. You may also realise that your hair is looking a lot fuller recently. That’s because, thanks to pregnancy hormones, you are losing less hair and it is growing at a faster rate, giving it a lovely, thick look.

How your baby is developing

Your baby’s body will already be covered in lanugo – the soft fine hair helping to protect his skin (this will be shed before birth), but now his scalp hair pattern has begun to form. However, it will be a little while longer before he starts growing hair on top of his head.

Because your baby is getting ready to go through a growth spurt, his heart is becoming stronger and stronger.

How your baby is developing

Your baby’s body will already be covered in lanugo – the soft fine hair helping to protect his skin (this will be shed before birth), but now his scalp hair pattern has begun to form. However, it will be a little while longer before he starts growing hair on top of his head.

Because your baby is getting ready to go through a growth spurt, his heart is becoming stronger and stronger.

It’s pumping around 50 pints worth of blood around his body each day, and this is set to increase as he gets bigger. Added to this, he will also have started developing toenails, and his backbone will strengthen, allowing him to straighten his head and neck more than ever before.

Health concerns

At week 16, you may now find that you get uncomfortable if you try to lie or sleep on your back.

During the first trimester, your baby was not big enough to cause you any problems, but now that your womb is heavier, lying on your back is likely to cause your baby to press against a major vein carrying blood from your lower body to your heart. Lying on your back for a long time, such as during sleep, could possibly cause you to feel very dizzy and lightheaded. It also affects the blood flow to the foetus, potentially causing problems for your baby.

If possible, you should try (as much as possible) to sleep on your left side. This will avoid feelings of faintness and help maintain the flow of nutrients to the placenta. If you’re having trouble doing this, you could consider buying a specially designed pregnancy pillow (most of which look like big cuddly boomerangs).

You should also make the necessary changes to exercises that have you lying flat on your back. For instance, you will need to modify any yoga poses requiring the supine position. But you should only do this with the guidance of an antenatal yoga instructor.

Are there any symptoms you should be looking out for?

Despite all the excitement pregnancy brings, sometimes the anxiety of becoming a parent and the rapid changes to your body cause emotional stress, and this can eventually take its toll. Not to mention your hormones may make you susceptible to mood swings. If you’re feeling very down and suspect that you might have antenatal depression, talk to your midwife or doctor. You are certainly not alone, and there are many resources available to help you cope, such as support groups and specialist counsellors.

Remember that exercise can be a good remedy for anxiety because it releases stress-reducing endorphins, so even if your mood is particularly low, try not to neglect your exercise routine.

Safety first

Since your body is preparing you for labour, a hormone known as relaxin is being released, this vital chemical relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis. Because of this, you are more susceptible to sustaining an injury in this area.

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is the blanket term for any pain felt in the joints of the pelvis. If you’re feeling pain in your pelvis, lower back, around your hips, or thighs and it’s particularly bad, to the point where you struggle to walk or climb the stairs, then you will need to speak to your doctor. It is likely you’ll be referred to a physiotherapist.

Obviously, suffering from PGP can make certain forms of exercise very difficult, and you will need to listen to your own body to judge which activities are suitable. A physiotherapist can help you plan out an effective exercise routine to help you build up your activity levels. As the Pelvic Partnership suggests, you should “talk to your manual therapist who should be able to give you a bespoke exercise plan as part of the course of treatment”.

Important issues this week

At week 16, your mid-pregnancy scan (also known as the anomaly scan) is coming up. This is where it is sometimes possible for you to learn the sex of your baby. Your baby will have developed a lot since your first dating scan, and now it will be much easier to find out if you’re expecting a boy or a girl.

Obviously, whether or not you know the sex of your baby in advance of the birth is a big decision, and it’s up to you and your partner to decide if you would like to know the sex of the baby or leave it as a surprise. Also, check with your hospital or ultrasound unit regarding their policy as not all centres will tell parents the sex.

If you do want to know, be sure to tell the sonographer at the beginning of the scan so that they know what to look for. However, keep in mind that it won’t always be possible to tell the baby’s sex even at this stage (for instance, he could be lying in a position that makes it difficult for the sonographer to tell).

Keeping fit, staying healthy

Keeping fit with some of the approved exercises for pregnancy can be fun, but it’s important that you stay comfortable while doing them. Now that your weight has changed considerably and you have a noticeable bump, you may want to consider purchasing a belly band. It will give your abdomen the extra support it needs during exercise and can help prevent back pain.

Looking forward; planning ahead

If you already have young children, now might be a good time to get them ready for the impending arrival.

Young children are understandably very excited about another addition to the family (as you are), but it’s important that you fill them with realistic expectations. If they’re wanting to have a playmate who matches their energy from day one, then you need to give them a little guidance on what living with a new-born may be like.

To help them understand, you could share stories with them about what they were like as a new-born, and let them know that their delicate new sibling isn’t going to do much more than sleep and eat for the first few months.

Of course, if this is your first child, then you’ll be discovering all of this yourself for the first time.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.
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