Pregnancy week 18 has come – so take a deep breath mom; you're almost half way there! By the time you reach this phase your baby will have grown to nearly 14 cm long. add an additional 50 grams from the previous week and your baby will be about the same size as a very large bell pepper. It's also at this time where the sex of your baby may be determined. The question you'll have to struggle with is whether you want to know – or be surprised?
As the pregnancy term hits the 18th week, your baby has really made significant strides in the development department. Their little eyes now have discrete layers within the retina, and the majority of neurons in the brain have multiplied exponentially before and during pregnancy week 18. With the baby's teeth, enamel is beginning to develop, and just below in the throat, the larynx or “voice box” is taking shape. In many ultrasounds, imaging can see the baby beginning to make movements with their mouths – as if they are singing in the womb!
Spoiler Alert! If you don't want to know that by week 18 that your baby's sex has been determined due to their genitals being formed and in the right place – then you might want to tell the ultrasound technician! If you're having a little girl, you might be shocked to hear that she has already begun to develop eggs in her ovaries. Little boys still have a lot of development to go – but that's no surprise to any of us girls! In other parts of their bodies, the nerves are creating a protective layer of myelin – which is very critical to the function of the nervous system after they are born.
Your baby is also becoming extremely active – doing a bunch of tumbling and kicking around in their relatively tight quarters. They also typically enjoy grabbing the umbilical cord frequently now; so it's nice to know that your body has a built in toy for them to play with.
In regards to your body's development in week 18, as they say; the beat goes on. If you didn't accomplish this step in week 16, its highly probable that you're OBGYN has set up the date for your anomaly scan which is where the sonographic technician will make sure the baby’s developing organ growth is normal, and that your placenta is healthy – and located in the perfect spot. It's also customary for them to have the monitor turned away from you as they begin the scan. This is intended to allow them to focus on recording data – and not meant as a personal attack to prohibit you from seeing your baby. Once they have the measurements and data documented – they will be more than willing to share a live peak into your womb.
It's also probable that you might be able to determine the sex of your baby. It's a good idea to tell the technician whether or not you want to know the sex prior to the scan so they don't leak out any spoilers inadvertently.
Here is something interesting to consider about the development your baby has experienced in a very short period. In week 11, your baby was about 2cm long – and now is approaching 15cm in length. He or she weighed less than 25grams and is now tipping the scales at over 200 (Don’t bring his up if she’s a girl, you don’t want her to develop a complex while still developing her, well… everything!). But this is the really awesome part – your baby is growing hair. The eyebrows are nearly complete; all layers of skin are present, and the cochlea, which is known as the frequency analyzer of the ear that converts frequencies into electrical impulse that is communicated to the brain, is now working. Your baby can hear you – so let them hear their mother's voice frequently!