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18 weeks pregnant: baby development and diet tips

Lots of leaps and bounds are happening in week 18, from nerve cells multiplying to the beginnings of fingerprints. Read more about this week.

3 mins to read May 12, 2021

In just one of pregnancy’s incredible facts, by this week your baby has produced most of the billions of brain cells that he will have at birth! Muscles are getting stronger too, and his movements more vigorous, so if you haven’t felt your baby dancing around yet, you should soon. It all depends on the temperament of your baby. Other developments are taking place with his hands - his fingers are developing little nails and fingerprints are starting to emerge.

It is quite unbelievable to stroke your belly and know that there is a person growing in there. And when you imagine interacting with this little person – how they will smile, what they will look like – it is quite incredible, isn’t it? Perhaps you know your child’s sex. Or maybe you are waiting until her birth to find out. Either way, it’s almost time for the second ultrasound scan at 18 weeks pregnant. This time, your doctor may be able to verify that your child is developing healthily, but also whether it is a girl or a boy. Don’t be disappointed if you would like to know but nothing can be seen yet. Your child has to be lying “correctly”, because even the most practised gynaecologist’s eye would not determine his or her gender.

Unfortunately, at 18 weeks pregnant, pregnancy can interfere with normal bowel movements. We can’t stress it enough: a diet rich in fibre, fluid, and moderate activity can help. Fresh or cooked vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, nuts, and legumes can work wonders. Drink enough (2 litres of fluid per day) to hydrate and facilitate “transit”. Also try starting your day with a glass of water or fresh orange or grapefruit juice with the pulp left in. Soak prunes overnight to soften them and enjoy for breakfast with yoghurt – they are, safe natural laxatives and can help with your lazy bowel function. And, at 18 weeks pregnant, continue the walking or other activity you have been doing throughout your pregnancy. If, despite these small tips, your worries persist, talk to your doctor. Above all, do not take over-the-counter medications without consult of your doctor.

You’ve been told to consume lots of calcium-rich foods to strengthen your bones and those of your baby but what do you do in case of lactose intolerance? At 18 weeks pregnant, you just have to be more creative to get your needs met. A lot of people with lactose intolerance can still continue to eat some cheese or yogurt (some of the lactose is removed as these foods ferment). There are also lactose-free and lactose reduced milks available in some regions. Besides dairy products, some foods have added calcium, such as some breads and juices; check the food package to be sure. Dark and leafy vegetables (including “sea vegetables” – seaweed) and dried beans are also sources of calcium.