What's happening in week 16 of your pregnancy
Week 16 and your baby is doing some pretty amazing stuff!
At a glance
- Your baby's limbs and joints are now fully formed
- Routine tests will be done at your antenatal appointment
- It is safe to have sex if you feel like your libido has increased
How big is my baby at 16 weeks?
Your baby is around 11.6 cm long now and about the size of an orange. All their limbs and joints are now fully formed – and they’re probably enjoying giving them all a good stretch and flex! They might also have 'found' their thumb and worked out how to suck it by now, too. How cute is that?
Now that their backbone has become stronger your baby will start to straighten out their head and neck more. Their nervous system is also making connections to all their muscles so you might find your baby starts to move with a little more purpose and also now has reflexes.
Your baby's face muscles can now move, too, meaning that facial expressions are beginning to appear, although your little one doesn't as yet have any control over them.
It’s also possible that they might grab and play with their umbilical cord as they develop the ability to grip further.
Their skin is currently quite translucent, and if you could take a peek, you’d be able to see blood vessels under their skin.
Facts to know about your baby in week 16
- A four-month-old foetus will turn away if a bright light is shone on the mum's belly
- Babies yawn in the womb
- Around now, your baby's eyes start becoming sensitive to light
- Your baby is around 11.6 cm long now and about the size of an orange
- Your baby can make a fist and suck its thumb now
- Whilst your baby's eyelids are still fused shut, they can now move their eyes around
You at 16 weeks pregnant
You will have an antenatal appointment this week, your midwife will check your blood pressure and take another urine test. Midwives no longer check baby’s heartbeat at 16 weeks because it can still be difficult to locate so they wait until baby is bigger to prevent any unnecessary anxiety. The Whooping Cough vaccine is also offered to all pregnant women between 16-32 weeks of pregnancy.
Following a rise in whooping cough cases across the UK, the vaccination programme for pregnant women was introduced in 2012 and has already protected many young babies. After receiving the vaccine, your body will create protective antibodies which are passed to your unborn baby through the placenta. This will help protect your baby from the disease in the first few weeks of their life before they are old enough to get the vaccination themselves at 2 months old.
Your midwife will probably have some info for you about your next ultrasound scan, the anomaly scan. This is offered to pregnant women between 18 and 20 weeks.
Women who showed a higher risk for Down's syndrome at their earlier screening tests may also have an appointment for amniocentesis at 16 weeks.
Some mums-to-be find their libido increases at this stage of their pregnancy (some don't!) and so you might find your sex drive is on the up! There is absolutely no need to worry about your baby (unless your doctors have advised you otherwise).
In the first trimester, the rising hormones than can cause tiredness, pregnancy sickness and sensitive boobs may lower your sexual desire. Yet, as these not so fun first trimester symptoms subside you may notice an increase in your sex drive. This is because of increased vaginal lubrication and increased clitoris sensitivity due to all that extra blood flowing around you. It can even result in a more pleasurable sexual experience with your partner, so make the most of it if this perk of pregnancy strikes you, as later in the third trimester, extra weight and back ache may decrease your sexual desire again.
Facts to know about you in week 16
- Because of its high manganese content pineapple is said to help prevent stretchmarks
- Your lungs can be crowded by your growing baby meaning it can be tough to catch your breath from time to time
What to think about in week 16
There's no doubt your relationship with your partner will evolve now you are to become parents – and there's no denying that sometimes, the emotional, hormonal, and just downright exhausting symptoms of pregnancy can test even the strongest and most loving of partnerships!
Communication is often the key to smoothing troubled waters, so if you are finding your relationship is sometimes becoming a bit of a battle ground over certain issues, do try and talk things through.
Relationship counseling could be helpful if things are really building up – do remember, you are both undergoing an awful lot of changes, so don't be too hard on yourselves!
Take time to get excited about the amazing journey you are undertaking. If you haven't already, it could be a good time start looking at potential baby names. Choosing a list of your top boys and girls name can be a fun activity to do together.
You’re unlikely to have experienced it yet, but feeling your baby move is the next exciting milestone of your pregnancy experience. Don’t panic if you haven’t felt anything yet as mums-to-be commonly start to feel their baby's first movements somewhere between weeks 16 and 25 weeks of pregnancy.
As your baby grows inside you, these little movements – which many mums-to-be describe as feeling like bubbles – will become stronger as you continue through your pregnancy, and develop into kicks, punches, swooshes, flips and turns, which your partner and other family members will soon start to be able to share the experience too when they touch your belly.
Every single baby’s movement is different meaning there’s never a set number of kicks you should be feeling.
Something that could begin playing on your mind as your pregnancy continues is your maternity rights. Many women will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) when they take maternity leave, but there are options if you don’t.
Maternity Allowance is a payment made by the government to women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay and worth looking into if you don’t think you will be eligible for SMP.
There are factors that will be considered before deciding if you qualify, but all options are important to look into to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to once you are pregnant and your work life is about to change when your little one arrives.
Signs and symptoms at 16 weeks pregnant
A very common symptom in pregnancy, backache can begin to affect mums-to-be from early on in pregnancy and not just towards the end when your bump is big. It is most common in trimester two and three and this can get worse as your weight increases and your bump expands. The back pain is a result of your growing bump throwing your weight distribution out of line. It also has an effect on the curve of your lower back. It’s natural to push your shoulders back to compensate for the change, which results in back pain but there are other self-help measures you can try.
Sensitive, itchy eyes
Even if you have never had problems with your eyes, pregnancy can cause you to suffer with dry, sensitive and even itchy eyes (dry eye syndrome and it is said to be more common in your second or subsequent pregnancy). This particular pregnancy symptom, which can leave you feeling like you’ve got dust in your eyes, is especially related to a loss in male hormones (androgens). There are over the counter drops that can help ease the symptoms, but it’s important to talk to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist first.
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Watch our video below on: The fetal anomaly scan (20 weeks)
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