You are 16 Weeks and 4 Days 164 days to go…
Until you feel your baby move, hearing his heartbeat is the next best way for you to bond with him.
In this 2D ultrasound, the baby’s head is to the left, with the
arms not visible, although the knee and lower leg can be seen. At this
stage, details of the brain developing under the skull are becoming much
Your baby today
At this stage of pregnancy,
your doctor may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat using a handheld
Doppler ultrasound machine. Because ultrasound waves do not travel well
in air, gel is applied to the end of the probe or “transducer” as it is
placed on your abdomen. This then detects the heartbeat and converts it
into a sound that we can hear.
It’s quite easy to
distinguish your baby’s heartbeat from your own since it beats almost
twice as fast. However, your baby’s heart rate peaked around five weeks
ago and, since then, has slowed down as the nerves controlling the
heart’s rhythm have matured.
During the second
half of pregnancy, the range of the heartbeat is between 120 and 160
beats per minute and will be responsive to many stimuli, as well as to
your baby’s activity.
… Monitoring your baby’s heartbeat at home
My partner is eager to rent a handheld Doppler so we can
listen to our baby’s heartbeat. Do you think this is a good idea?
Handheld ultrasound Doppler devices, which allow parents-to-be to
listen to the fetal heartbeat at home, are currently sold over the
counter in the US. Parents are told they can listen to their baby “in
complete safety as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy” and “any time they
want,” implying there is no limit on frequency of exposure.
has been no research into the effects of frequent scanning, which would
be more than the baby receives during prenatal care. A Doppler is not a
toy and using it in this way is an unnecessary risk.
Using your own Doppler may help reassure you if you are very anxious
about your baby’s well-being, but it is just as likely to have the
opposite effect if you can’t pick up the heartbeat. Identifying
different sounds takes practice and if you have difficulty finding the
heartbeat (this happens to midwives, too!), it could be distressing. If
you’re worried about your baby for any reason, help and advice is only a
phone call away.
used a Doppler because I am a worrier and it really gave me peace of
mind. I didn’t use it very often and only when there was a good reason
to. For example, at one stage of my pregnancy, I had an episode of
bleeding and clots. After this, I was very worried about my baby’s
health and hearing his heartbeat really helped to calm me down, so it
had benefits for the baby, too. I don’t think a Doppler is a substitute
for medical advice but it’s a useful addition.
The baby’s heart rate is not an indication of gender.
A study in the mid-1990s,
using over 10,000 measurements, dispelled the theory that the speed of a
baby’s heartbeat predicted whether it would be a boy or a girl.
You are 16 Weeks and 5 Days 163 days to go…
Ensuring you drink enough fluids is essential to good health in pregnancy, so carry your bottle of water everywhere.
The baby’s face is partially obscured by the hand in this 3D
image. Babies at this stage are small enough to fit onto the ultrasound
screen, but beyond 20 weeks it is increasingly only possible to see a
smaller part of the baby at any one time.
Your baby today
Staying hydrated in pregnancy can be a challenge.
Because of the hormonal changes taking place, some of the fluid you
take in leaks into your body tissues, rather than staying within the
It’s difficult to
recommend an exact amount of fluid that should be drunk to keep you
hydrated, since this depends on many factors, such as the foods you eat
(some naturally contain water), your size, the amount you exercise, and
the heat and humidity in the environment. Therefore, you need to listen
to your own body to determine if you’re adequately hydrated. One of the
best ways to do this is to look at your urine. If it’s clear to light
yellow, you’re adequately hydrated. If it’s bright yellow or orange,
you’re likely to be dehydrated.
Drinking plenty of water
is important. Sometimes, though, if you are nauseous, or just plain
tired of drinking water, you may want to try other options for
hydration, such as drinking juice or eating more fruit (see Fabulous fruit).
Remember that caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, are not hydrating;
caffeine has a diuretic effect, which means that you will want to
urinate more often.
In the second and
third trimester, dehydration in pregnancy can lead to premature
contractions. This is because an anti-diuretic hormone is produced to
help your body hold on to water. This hormone acts a lot like oxytocin,
the hormone that triggers labor, causing contractions. Staying hydrated
will prevent this from happening.
One great way to stay hydrated
is to eat fruit. Many fruits are very high in water, especially melons,
grapes, and strawberries. The water in fruit is very well absorbed in
your body, because it comes partnered with sugar, which helps the water
stay in your bloodstream.
fruit is highly nutritious and contains many of the vitamins and
electrolytes that your body needs to stay in balance.
Should I stop picking up my toddler while I’m pregnant?
You may be experiencing some back pain and discomfort as your
hormones begin to soften your ligaments. This means that your joints are
less stable than usual, and injury is more likely.
Lifting your toddler
will not harm your baby, but it may cause you discomfort, and you may be
more likely to lose your balance. Ask your toddler to climb onto a
chair so that you don’t need to lift from bending position. To lift from
floor level, squat down and use your legs to bear the weight. Avoid
bending, which strains your back. Encourage your toddler to get onto
your lap for a hug.