During pregnancy week 18 the baby is 5 to 6 inches long and its weight is more than 5 ounces. Strong heart and muscles are built during this week and the bones become stronger and harder. A protective covering called myelin is produced which supports the nerves in the body of the baby. This myelin continues to be produced till the ninth month. By this week the genitals are formed. Lungs develop at this stage. Tiny air sacs in the lungs also form at this stage. Kidneys are working well and the baby swallows amniotic fluid and urinates. The head and the body seem to be quite in proportion now during pregnancy week 18. The facial features are clear too. The skin appears red and the body is still quite thin. Two layers are developed by the skin that is dermis and epidermis. The baby can detect light and hear sounds. The baby moves around freely as there is plenty of room now. If the baby is the boy then prostate glands develop and if it is a girl then the uterus, fallopian tubes and the vaginal canal develop.
The uterus is just at or below the navel at pregnancy week 18 and the tummy becomes visible. The uterus enlarges and exerts more pressure upwards and downwards. As the mother’s body continues to grow and expand there is a feeling of discomfort. Most women also feel quite discomfort while sleeping at night. Lying on the left side while sleeping might help prevent compression of a large vein in the body which supplies blood back to the heart. Hence it is best to lie on the side by placing a pillow behind or under the hip or upper leg to give comfort. A good pregnancy pillow might help the discomfort at night while sleeping. Increase in appetite is also common by now. Cardiovascular system also undergoes changes now. Getting light-headed, dizziness or feeling faint from time to time is possible during this time of pregnancy week 18. Increased urination is also experienced due to downward pressure that is exerted on the urinary bladder.
The diet during pregnancy week 18 and daily should be light and nutritious and which is easily digestible. The main sources of calorie rich food are fish, meat, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seafood, grains and cereals which should be included in the diet daily. Al least half a litre of milk, green vegetables and citrus fruits should be consumed daily. Iron being one of the essential components of a pregnancy diet there is a risk of negative iron balance during pregnancy. Eating lots of green, leafy vegetables and whole grains in the diet will help supplement the deficiency during pregnancy week 18. Adequate doses of vitamin C also help in a healthy birth weight and a decreased risk of premature rupture of the membranes. Vitamin C is found in orange juice as well as from a wide variety of delicious fruits like mango, papaya, and strawberries and vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, and vegetable juice. The mother should try to eat a varied, healthy diet with as much as possible.