Pregnancy Tracker: Week 16

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 16




Week 16 means you are now 4 months pregnant

This is a time of tremendous growth as baby is now almost half as big as he was just three weeks ago, and could weigh in at about 110g, measuring 10-13cm. Imagine holding an avocado in your hands? That is about the size of your baby!

Anytime now you can expect to feel your baby move, although some women only report feeling baby at about the 20-week mark. If your placenta is positioned in front of the uterus, it may take a bit longer for you to feel movement as the spongy placenta acts as a buffer.

If this is your first pregnancy, you may be wondering what the movements will feel like. Each baby is unique and how the movements will feel will vary from person to person and will also change throughout pregnancy as baby grows.

First movements may feel like little taps or pops, and you may well think you have gas! Then suddenly you may be aware of small fluttery sensations in the pit of your tummy. This is known as ‘quickening.’

As baby gets bigger and stronger, you will feel him kicking, boxing, stretching, flipping and rolling about.

What is important at week 16?

Baby continues to grow and develop at a rapid rate, and each new week seems to bring a new development to marvel over.

About this time, baby is developing little hair follicles on the scalp. These are the only follicles that your child will ever have, as new follicles don’t form after birth. This pattern of hair growth will stay with your baby for life.

Baby’s circulatory system is now in full working order, with the little heart pumping about 24 litres of blood around the body daily.

If you could peep into your uterus, you would see your baby smiling and frowning, but these facial movements are merely random at this stage – baby has no control over them.

Your body at 16 weeks pregnant

As the second trimester progresses, you should be feeling less fatigued and gaining more energy.

The increase of blood pumping through your system results in healthy, glowing skin and shiny hair. It is also possible that you will find your libido on the increase. This is a very special time for intimacy with your partner as you are not feeling nauseous, and your bump is not yet too uncomfortable.

As your uterus grows so does your bump, and you may be at the stage where it is obvious to all that you are pregnant, or you may still sport a flat tum. Don’t compare yourself to others, as everyone is different. The size of a bump depends on many factors, like whether this is a first or subsequent pregnancy, your starting weight and shape, and whether you are having twins.

It is more important to maintain a healthy weight for your height as this lowers the risk of problems during pregnancy. You need to ensure that you keep to a healthy diet. Besides the fruit, vegetables and protein-rich foods, you should also see that you are getting enough nutrients, the most important being:

  • Essential for building bones and teeth (yours and baby’s). Calcium can be found in dairy products as well as green leafy vegetables, tofu and certain fish like sardines and pilchards, where the little bones are also consumed.
  • A lack of iron can cause extreme fatigue and could lead to anaemia, which is a shortage of red blood cells. Iron can be obtained from lean meat, spinach, and fortified cereals.
  • Folic acid (folate) aids in preventing birth defects of the brain and spine. You would have been advised to take supplements from the start of your pregnancy until about the 12th Check with your health care provider if it is advisable to continue supplements in the second trimester.

Your debilitating symptoms like chronic fatigue and morning sickness should have improved tremendously, but you will still experience some symptoms, notably:

  • Pregnancy headaches are a typical symptom and can be caused by hormonal changes, stress and dehydration, as well as lack of sleep or even caffeine withdrawal. Ensure you remain well hydrated during the day and take every opportunity for a toes-up.
  • Back pain is common and caused by the enlarging uterus putting extra strain on the lower back. During pregnancy, hormonal changes loosen and relax ligaments in your pelvic area, in preparation for labour and birth.
  • Round ligament pain. The round ligaments that support your growing uterus are thickening and stretching, resulting in sharp, stabbing pain on one or both sides of your abdomen. When this happens, try to take a little rest; it should subside quickly.

The 16-week antenatal check-up is an important one

At 16 weeks you will probably have another antenatal check-up, which could possibly include an ultrasound scan, at which you will be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat.

Also known as a sonogram, this scan helps to confirm due date by measuring the baby’s size. It also checks for the possibility of a multiple birth, slow foetal growth, as well as the positioning of the placenta to alert you to placenta previa (low-lying placenta). Baby’s genitals are fully formed but still too small and indistinct to show up on a scan.

As a matter of routine, blood pressure is checked, and a urine sample will be taken and tested for signs of sugar or protein which could be an indication of infection, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.

More interesting to parents-to-be are the tests for measuring your growing abdomen and listening to the sounds of our baby’s heartbeat.

The fundal height measures the height of the uterus and helps confirm the baby’s growth and estimated due date.

Early in your second trimester you may be offered optional screening for birth defects 

Amniocentesis (commonly called an amnio), is suggested if you are older than 35, are a first-time older mum-to-be, if you have family history concerns or if your doctor feels you are at risk for other reasons.

This test is typically performed between weeks 15 and 20. An ultrasound will be used to see inside your pregnant belly and to guide the doctor in inserting a needle into the amniotic sac to collect a sample of fluid to be assessed. Analysis can detect 99% of neural tube defects and 100% of certain genetic disorders.

This procedure is optional and carries slight risks, so it is advisable to discuss the pros and cons with your healthcare provider to enable you to make an informed decision.

Some of the first sounds that your baby can hear include your heartbeat, your digestive noises, your breathing, and even your voice.

So spend time chatting to your baby!

Talking to your baby can be a soothing and relaxing opportunity for you and your partner to start the bonding process with baby.

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