YOUR CHANGING LIFE
From shiny hair to nasal strips
Welcome to week 16. At this point, you're probably settling into pregnancy and starting to get used to the strange symptoms you've been experiencing, although many of the worst ones (morning sickness, frequent trips to the bathroom, aching breasts) might be gone. So what's going on with your body this early in the second trimester?
One thing you may have noticed more often is that your back hurts. As your baby bump grows, your spine curves more than usual to accommodate the extra weight, which can result in strained back muscles. You can soothe the pain by asking your partner to give you a massage (or splurge on a professional masseuse!) or taking a warm bath or shower.
Another symptom you might be experiencing is nasal congestion. Pregnancy hormones cause the body's mucous membranes to swell, which means your nose could be clogged up, irritated or even prone to nosebleeds. Saline nasal sprays or nasal strips at night can improve the situation. Other unfortunate afflictions may include constipation and shortened breath, which result from your uterus pressing on your intestines and diaphragm.
But there are some positives! For example, you might realize that you've been clipping your nails more often lately, and that your hair is growing out faster than usual. You have your hormones to thank for this (never thought you would do that, now did you?). Your skin might also be looking extra dewy and bright lately as more blood is flowing near the surface and more oil is being produced.
One more thing to be on the lookout for? Your baby's first movements! Some women, especially those who have been pregnant before, may start feeling flutters or "pops" around this time. You might think it's gas bubbles at first, but don't rule out your little one's acrobatics!
YOUR BABY THIS WEEK
From orange to avocado
During week 16, your baby is getting ready for a dramatic growth spurt over the next few weeks, which will double his or her weight and add inches to his or her height. In the meantime, your little one is currently about the size of an avocado, with that extra length attributed to the legs, which are much more developed this week.
Bones have also formed in your little one's ears, which means that he or she can probably hear your voice as you talk to your partner or sing in the shower. He or she will be able to recognize it at birth, so feel free to start chatting to your belly! Your baby's eyes are also starting to work, moving slightly from side to side and perceiving light, even though the eyelids are still sealed shut.
Your baby's skin is still wrinkly and translucent, but pretty soon more fat will accumulate underneath that will plump him or her up. If you were able to see your baby, you'd notice visible veins pulsating underneath the surface, which are transporting 25 quarts of blood per day from your baby's heart. By the 40th week, this will have increased to about 1,900!
Prepare your family and friends for the baby's arrival
Now is a good time to start getting your family and friends prepared for your little one's arrival. Of course, they've probably already entertained the idea of a baby in your arms by now, but there's still a lot to be done to make sure that they're going to be able to handle the changes that are about to occur.
Start out with your friends. Some of your gal-pals who have yet to become pregnant may have started treating you differently once you shared the news that you're expecting. For example, they may have "forgotten" to invite you out one night because they assumed you were sleeping or something, or maybe they've started to talk solely about your pregnancy and babies in general in an effort to connect to you.
Let your friends know that you're still the same person you were before – sure, you can't drink right now or go wild at the club every weekend anymore, but let them know that for the most part, you'll be able to pick up where you left off once you've settled into motherhood. Try setting up a weekly lunch date or girls' night when you and your friends can get together and hang out, then try to keep up the tradition after your baby arrives.
Once that's taken care of, it's time to help your other kids, if you have them, get ready for a new sibling. You might want to start with answering their questions about why your belly is getting so big. Of course, younger children probably don't need to know the details, but older kids might benefit from an educational book or video explaining the basics. Try to involve your children in your preparations for the new baby, too.