You're now 4 months pregnant - only 5 more months to go! It may seem like a lifetime until you finally meet your little one, but rest assured that the time will go quickly. After all, you're almost halfway there already!
You may have an antenatal check up around now. As always, your urine will be checked for glucose and protein, you'll have your blood pressure taken and the midwife will have a feel of your belly to see how Baby's growing. You may even get to hear that tiny heartbeat at your appointment, too! These appointments are generally scheduled for every 3 weeks until your third and final trimester, when they may increase to every 2 weeks.
Baby: What's Happening?
Your baby weighs in at about 3.5 ounces, and measures anywhere between 4 and 5 inches. He or she is growing rapidly and is preparing for one massive growth spurt over the coming weeks (make sure you've got a pair of maternity jeans at the ready!).
This growth spurt is when your baby finally becomes big enough that the jerky movements can really start to be felt. If your baby has gone through this growth spurt already, or if you've had a previous pregnancy, you might be able to start feeling "quickening" this week. Quickening is a term used to describe those first movements that you feel. They don't exactly feel like kicks or punches, but more like butterflies or gas! Don't worry if you don't feel anything yet, your baby might not have this growth spurt until 20 weeks or so.
The most lovely change that happens in week 16 is that your baby's ears start to function now that they've settled into their final position on the sides of the head. This means your baby will be able to hear your voice! It's thought that babies can recognise voices at birth that they've heard frequently throughout the pregnancy, so if you and your partner get into the habit of including Baby in your conversations (as weird as it may seem!) your voices could provide some much needed comfort to your infant. You may even notice that your baby moves in the womb as a reaction to your voice!
You: What's Happening?
You'll be putting on weight quite quickly now, and your belly might seem to be doubling in size overnight. If you're usually quite slim, this sudden rounding out can cause a bit of anxiety, but it's completely normal, and completely healthy, to be putting weight on. In fact, it's absolutely essential for both you and your baby. Throughout your second trimester you should aim to put on between 12 and 14 lbs.
As your baby is growing and squashing your internal organs, you could find that you're getting out of breath just doing everyday tasks such as walking to the bus stop or sorting the laundry. This can also make exercising somewhat challenging. Remember to take things easy and perhaps swap your morning jog for some antenatal yoga or an aquanatal class.
The increasing weight of your baby might start to put some pressure on your back as you struggle to stay up straight! You may notice some pain in your hips and knees, too. Unfortunately, there's no magical cure, but staying off your feet as much as possible can help. Easier said than done, right? Especially if you already have a toddler running around at home!
If you're a smoker who's still enjoying a few cigarettes each day, you might be thinking that it's pointless giving up now. Not true! Studies have found that women who quit earlier than 17 weeks of pregnancy are likely to give birth to babies of a similar weight as non-smokers, so there's still time to make a change if you want to.
While smokers who continue with the habit past 17 weeks generally have babies with lower birth weights, it's still beneficial to quit before the birth, so even if you have the intention of giving up but don't manage it this week, try again a bit later. Babies with low birth rates may need medical attention which can be a scary time. Not smoking can greatly reduce this risk.