You’re four weeks from the halfway point. You’re also about to enter one of the most exciting parts of your pregnancy. You should start feeling the baby move any day now.
For many women, it can be difficult to tell at first if the feeling in your belly is the baby moving, gas, or some other sensation. But soon, a pattern develops and you’ll know if that movement is a stirring little baby.
The second trimester is sometimes called “the honeymoon phase” of pregnancy. You may notice that you’re sleeping more soundly and more peacefully than you were just a few weeks before. You should also start getting used to sleeping on your side.
Your doctor may advise you to stop sleeping on your back at this time. This means using extra pillows to support your body. There are several types of specially designed pregnancy pillows you can buy to help you sleep or just provide a little extra comfort while you rest.
With more sleep comes more energy during the day. Your mood may also brighten, but don’t be surprised if you still experience the occasional mood swing. And you may miss your old clothes as you start wearing more maternity clothes.
Becoming more active is only part of what’s happening with your baby at week 16. The baby’s circulatory and urinary systems are functioning at a more advanced stage.
Your baby’s head also appears more “normal” as the eyes and ears have settled into their permanent position on the head. Your baby’s head is also becoming more erect and not angled forward as it had been for the first few months.
Your baby’s legs are also developing quickly. And if your baby is a girl, thousands of eggs are forming in her ovaries.
Babies at this stage are measured from their heads to their bottoms. This is called the crown-rump length. At 16 weeks, most babies are about 4.5 inches long and weigh about 3.5 ounces. This is about the size of an avocado. And next your baby will begin a major growth spurt.
Do you feel any movement yet? Some women start to feel their babies moving by week 16, but women who are moms for the first time often don’t feel movement until much later.
Fetal movement, also called quickening, is a great sign that your babies are exercising their developing muscles. Over time, these little pokes and jabs will turn into rolls and kicks.
Many women get past the morning sickness phase of their pregnancy around this time. This is also the time when you may become a little forgetful or have trouble concentrating.
While most of your symptoms from past weeks will not be new this week, like tender breasts, here’s a look at the symptoms you can expect to continue this week:
- brighter skin (due to increased blood flow)
- oilier or shinier skin (due to hormones)
- continued weight gain
- possible hemorrhoids
- trouble concentrating
If you find yourself growing frustrated, talk with your doctor, or a friend who may have experienced similar symptoms during her pregnancy.
The increase in blood flow throughout your body may make your face look brighter. And those increasingly active hormones may start making your skin oilier and shinier these days.
It’s sometimes referred to as the “pregnancy glow,” but you may not see these changes in such rosy terms. Try an oil-free cleanser if your face becomes too oily.
If constipation becomes troublesome, be sure to eat high-fiber foods, such as fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, beans, almonds, bran cereals, and other whole grains. Watch out for high-fat, low-fiber foods such as cheese and processed meats, which can worsen constipation.
If heartburn develops, pay close attention to the foods that may be triggers. Fried or spicy foods are often to blame. Remember that foods you once enjoyed without a problem may have to be off-limits during your pregnancy.
If you follow a healthy diet, you should figure on gaining between 12 and 15 pounds this trimester. That estimate may differ if you were overweight or underweight at the start of your pregnancy.
One other change that may occur is the occasional nosebleed or bleeding gums. Nosebleeds are usually harmless, and result when the additional blood flow in your body causes the tiny blood vessels in your nose to rupture.
To stop a nosebleed:
- Sit down, and keep your head higher than your heart.
- Don’t lean your head back as this may cause you to swallow blood.
- Pinch your nose with your thumb and index finger continuously for at least five minutes.
- Apply an ice pack on your nose to help constrict your blood vessels and stop the bleeding quickly.
Before you take any over-the-counter or prescription medications for congestion, digestion troubles, or other health issues, speak with your doctor. They can answer your questions about which medications are safe to use now.
During your next prenatal appointment, remember to tell your doctor about any other symptoms you’re experiencing.
After your morning sickness is gone, it’s a great time to focus on healthy eating and fitness.
If you're craving sweet foods, reach for fruit or yogurt instead of that candy bar. Try snacking on string cheese if you’re craving salty foods. Your body and your baby will appreciate the protein and calcium.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. Swimming and walking are great low-intensity workouts. Just remember to speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
You may also want to start researching cribs, car seats, strollers, baby monitors, and other high-ticket items for the baby. With so many options, and since many of these items will have an impact on your baby’s safety, you might be surprised by how much time this can take.
If you feel your baby move on a regular basis, but then notice you haven’t felt any movement for at least 12 hours, call your doctor. It may just be that you didn’t notice your baby’s movement, but it’s always better to play it safe.
If you haven’t felt your baby moving by this week, be patient. Many women don’t notice a flutter until 20 weeks or so.
While the risk of miscarriage is much lower in the second trimester than it was in the first, you should never ignore spotting, bleeding, or severe abdominal pain.