You’ve reached week 19, by now your baby will be wriggling around and you may already be able to feel those movements, your baby is now around 6 inches long and weighs 8 and a half inches. Here at NearlyBorn, we have gathered some information about the changes your body and your baby are experiencing.
By 19 weeks pregnant your baby has formed all of their organs and the features they are going to have post-birth, and the remainder of your pregnancy is about growth and refining those features. You will most likely have your 20-week ultrasound in the next week or so and will be able to see your baby again. If you haven’t had an early gender scan this is also your opportunity to find out whether you’re expecting a baby boy or girl – if you want to that is.
At week 19 your baby’s brain is now formed and is beginning to form the neural pathways that will allow for the senses to develop, this is the point where your baby will first begin to the neurological processes that will become sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell. It’s at this point in your pregnancy that your baby may begin to hear your voice and is a good time for you to begin talking to them if you aren’t already doing so.
Your baby’s body is now more proportionate to what it will be when they are born, with their arms and legs developed fully and hair beginning to grow across your baby’s scalp. Your baby is now also growing its vernix caseosa, this is a soft protective coating which helps to protect your baby, while in utero, from the amniotic fluid which otherwise would cause wrinkles. You may have seen this coating on other babies immediately post-birth, although most of it will be gone by the end of the birth process as the coating eases the birth passage for the baby. You will see more of this coating if your baby is born early and less if they are born late.
Now that you are comfortably into your second trimester your bump will begin to look more like a traditional image of a ‘baby-bump’ and for most women, the fatigue and morning sickness that has plagued them since finding out they are pregnant will have diminished or disappeared completely. Again, don’t be concerned if you are still experiencing symptoms of morning sickness as unfortunately for a minority of women this can last into the second trimester, and for some the entire pregnancy. We do recommend though that if you are unable to keep down food or water that you seek medical advice.
- Dizziness may well still be something you are experiencing, this is as a result of your growing uterus putting pressure on blood vessels, which in turn changes your circulation. While pregnant your blood pressure is also naturally lower which for people who have never experienced low blood pressure can cause dizzy spells. If you become dizzy we recommend that you pause what you are doing and sit or lie down if possible to allow your blood pressure to stabilize and blood flow to regulate. We also recommend you avoid prolonged standing where possible to improve blood flow; if you must stand for example at work, ensure that you take regular breaks to sit and allow your body to settle. When sleeping try to sleep on your side as this improves blood flow, and don’t forget to mention this to your doctor if the feelings do not subside easily or if this becomes constant.
- Cramps will possibly have moved from the low cramps in your stomach to more severe cramps in your legs, especially at night and while sleeping. To lessen the symptoms if you are experiencing this we suggest regular stretching exercises for your calves and if necessary supportive socks, while sitting and lying down, should help.
- You may also now be experiencing a little amount of pain in the skin surrounding your bump, again this is normal and is a result of the ligaments in your abdomen stretching to accommodate your baby. While all pain should be discussed with your doctor, stretching pains at this point are completely normal.
You will be able to see your baby moving a considerable amount on your mid-pregnancy ultrasound you may or may not be able to feel the movement that you can see so easily. Most women find that they can feel the first movements of their baby sometime between 16 and 22 weeks into their pregnancy and report the feeling as similar to fluttering or gas sensations. Over time the sensations will become stronger as your baby becomes stronger and will begin to feel more like the punches and kicks that they are. Often your baby will become more active when you are ready to sleep or settling down to relax which can be annoying but is again usual. For the time being these sensations will be felt by just you and your baby as they will still be too subtle for someone else to feel by putting their hand on your bump… for now, that is.
There are a lot of decisions you will be asked to make in the coming weeks, now that you are almost through your pregnancy. All of the decisions you will be making can become overwhelming so we recommend that you share your time between decision making and your favorite relaxation activity.
Now is the time to start thinking about where you want to give birth, do you want to have a home birth, a traditional hospital delivery or at a birthing center. We recommend that you book tours at any hospital or birthing center that you are considering; the most important aspect in anywhere you give birth is that you are comfortable in the environment you are in and with the people who are helping you to give birth. We advise to think of the following when deciding where to give birth:
- How will you get there?
- What is the distance from home to the place you intend to give birth?
- Are you considering a natural birth or c-section?
- Do you want your pain to be managed or to have a natural birth?
- Where do you want your baby to be following the birth, in the room with you or not?
We recommend during this time you take in as much fresh air as possible, gentle walks outside are best and allow for improved circulation and respiration as well as your overall mood from the release of endorphins while exercising.
Try to begin preparation for giving birth, have a look at books and materials available from your doctor or online to help you to understand what to expect later in your pregnancy and during the birth experience also. We find it is helpful to share this preparation with your birthing partner, in addition to any wishes you have for the birth process, this will help you to feel more relaxed throughout the entire process.
By now you may be experiencing cravings, some of them will be totally weird and only appealing to you but as long as there is nothing harmful to you or your baby it’s fine to indulge a little. If you’re craving healthy foods then go with it, but if you are craving burgers for every meal then moderation and swapping to healthier alternatives are definitely the key to maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Increase your iron intake around this stage as your body will need additional iron to produce the extra blood needed for both you and your baby and to keep your circulation healthy. Medical practitioners recommend doubling your iron intake to around 30mg per day, the best way to do this is to increase iron-rich foods, either on your main meals are when snacking. So choose your favorite and increase that as soon as you can.